Comment: Edinburgh’s rich heritage defines the city

Volunteers have helped restore Starbank Park to its former glory
Volunteers have helped restore Starbank Park to its former glory
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As a World Heritage Site, Edinburgh’s historic environment is a defining part of the city and its culture, writes Carl Watt.

Encompassing everything from historic and environmental sites through to museums and cultural heritage exhibitions, we have a rich heritage offering in our capital.

It could be easy to forget that behind Edinburgh’s flourishing heritage sector are many committed organisations and individuals who are faced every day with the challenge of securing funds in order to maintain and ensure the sustainability of this world class offering.

That is why on April 26 we will host “Inspiring Fundraising: A National Heritage Conference” in Edinburgh celebrating fundraising in this diverse sector.

The event will feature a range of speakers and focused workshops, challenging and inspiring attendees from heritage organisations across Scotland to share ideas and think more creatively about their fundraising methods.

Contributors to the conference based here in Edinburgh include:

Janet McArthur, Chair at Friends of Starbank Park; Adam Pinder, Head of Fundraising at the John Muir Trust; and Morven Lyon, Programme Officer at Community Shares Scotland.

Edinburgh’s heritage organisations and projects are operating are at a time when continued public sector cuts mean previous sources of funding are disappearing.

The sector often relies on the dedication of volunteers which means organisations can face difficulties when it comes to meeting fundraising targets due to lack of time, capacity or expertise.

Issues such as these show us that it has never been more vital to address how heritage organisations approach their fundraising activities.

And also to explore alternative sources of funding in order to meet targets.

Through our recent four year training programme called “Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage”, we have worked with over 800 individuals from Scottish heritage organisations, teaching them how to build the skills and capacity needed to secure future funding from a variety of sources.

The programme, delivered by Arts & Business Scotland in partnership with Archaeology Scotland, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Greenspace Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland and funded by Heritage Lottery Scotland provided 39 training events in Edinburgh alone which helped over 350 individuals.

Participating organisations in the capital included the Friends of Starbank Park, the Causey Development Trust and Edinburgh World Heritage, all of which are working hard to deliver heritage offerings for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.

The conference will be the culmination of “Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage” and will bring together some 200 delegates from all sizes of organisations, representing Scotland’s built and natural environment.

It is fitting that the conference also coincides with the European Year of Cultural Heritage, an EU initiative that aims to celebrate Europe’s diverse cultural heritage.

Edinburgh as a World Heritage Site stands tall in 2018 alongside other cities in Europe.

It is through developing skills and innovative thinking in fundraising that we can ensure we continue to build this heritage offering for decades to come.

Carl Watt is Head of Programmes at Arts & Business Scotland. The event is at The Balmoral Hotel.