Even as we start to emerge from the pandemic, the short-term challenges and impact of Covid-19 are evident. Heritage organisations have needed to close or severely reduce their availability to their communities. For sites that were able to open temporarily or have opened outdoor spaces, the restrictions they have had to maintain have meant visitor numbers have been severely reduced. This has understandably caused a revenue shortfall which has had a direct impact on the conservation and maintenance of sites and collections, as well as the ability to deliver development projects across the sector.

While these are hard times for our industry, it has also led to notable points of resilience and creativity worth celebrating.

Haley Sharpe Design (hsd) has been at the forefront of publicly-funded heritage projects throughout its 40-year history, working with clients across the UK seeking to bid for various heritage and cultural funding sources.

Through its work in developing museums, visitor centres, historic house & landscape interventions, and delivering interpretation at places of worship across the UK and Europe, hsd has become well-attuned to the specific rigor and challenges required to ensure publicly-developed projects are completed on-time, on-budget and in a way that ensures both long-term resilience and prolonged community impact of our clients’ organisations.

As both designers and strategic planners, the company is committed to supporting clients to find innovative ways to engage with audiences online, as well as successfully evaluating and using outdoor interpretative opportunities – particularly as the summer season approaches.

During the pandemic, the National Lottery Heritage Fund made immediate adjustments to better help heritage organisations develop projects and build capacity to secure their future, preparing them for the long-term economic recovery the sector faces.

There is now a balance between the traditional outcomes and values Heritage Fund will look for when they fund a project, alongside new attention on developmental attributes that target organisational resilience such as jobs and skills training, accessibility and inclusion, health and well-being, and the wider economic impact.

Moving forward, there will also be a much larger onus on projects to provide thorough, sustainable business planning in their bids. This will include clear and grounded evaluation of aspects such audience development, organisational and financial planning and risk assessment to ensure all funded projects add to the sustainability and long-term viability of the organisations leading them.

This will additionally have a direct impact on projects that have been temporarily halted during the pandemic, as well as new projects looking to seek new streams of funding. As a result, it will be important for ongoing projects to evolve in dynamic and sometimes unexpected ways in order to meet the new objectives of public funders. Consultation with users and non-users is vital to better understand the changing needs of audiences, and to ensure that proposals are in tune with local and regional priorities.

hsd has consistently approached heritage development with a multi-disciplinary emphasis. As its clients adjust to the new realities of the sector and the changing needs and expectations of public funding bodies, the firm has found this integrated approach particularly beneficial as it evolves and adjusts ongoing projects to prioritise sustainable business planning and ongoing audience development.

hsd’s design strategists are backed by project management and heritage consultancy experts who understand the specific nuances of complex heritage development. The company also has early-stage planners and thinkers whose work underpins the later inputs of its creative studio – ensuring that all masterplans and design proposals are formed by a consideration of strategic audience development and are grounded in long-term organisational and financial resilience.

Further details about hsd’s current projects and services can be found here.

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