Policy & research

Inclusive histories and navigating contestation: open call for evidence

As part of a new research project exploring ways to navigate contemporary debates around inclusive history, culture and identity, British Future is looking to gather insights and experiences from practitioners across the sector.

In an increasingly diverse Britain, there is growing interest in exploring how the complex histories of race and Empire have shaped the society that we share today. In particular, following the anti-racism protests of 2020, the work that institutions across the arts and culture sector have been doing on inclusive histories – to acknowledge the legacies of colonialism and transatlantic slavery, and to recognise the histories of minority groups previously hidden or not told – has come under increased scrutiny.

However, since this work involves re-examining and contesting some of the dominant perceptions of British history and identity, initiatives within the arts and culture sphere to promote inclusive history have themselves often become contested, exemplifying how questions of identity, culture and heritage are important to many of us.

These changes are happening in an era of increased polarisation around questions of identity, where they are often received differently across generations and ethnic groups, by educational status or political perspective. This is further amplified by shifting political, media and social media dynamics which influence the pace and intensity of public conversation.

This project, led by British Future, will explore how to navigate these heated debates around inclusive history, culture and identity with greater confidence. Our research will consider the strategies needed in the arts and cultural sector – as well as wider civil society – to undertake work in this field and be better equipped to understand its challenges and pitfalls.

Drawing from this work, the project will also make recommendations to UK arts funders – on the support that foundations can offer practitioners to do this work in polarised times, and on best practice for funders to develop their own strategic communications and advocacy activity related to this area.

British Future will be carrying out desk research to summarise existing policy and perspectives on engaging with inclusive histories in an arts, culture and heritage context. Through a series of interviews and roundtable discussions, we will also be hearing from stakeholders from across the arts and heritage sector, as well as public-attitudes experts and opinion formers, to gather their insights on how to engage in these debates effectively.

This research is commissioned and funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Art Fund. A summary of the research findings will be available on the funder websites at the end of the project.

Submit evidence to our project

Alongside our interviews and practitioner roundtable discussions, we are also keen to hear from others working in the UK arts and culture arena on themes of inclusive histories, who would like to engage in our research.

We currently have an open call for evidence, for practitioners working on this space to submit information about their projects on inclusive histories, and insights on how they have fielded and responded to contestation. This will remain open until Friday 8 April 2022.

If you would like to learn more about how to submit evidence to this project, please click here for the full details.

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