IHBC Yearbook 2021

24 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 2 1 The Whisperer consultation: participants (bottom left) were encouraged to contemplate past, present, and future issues for the city, and to communicate their ideas a community engagement plan and a communications plan, setting out the project’s key milestones and the promotional opportunities for each of them. With greater publicity there should be greater awareness, better engagement, and more willingness to take part in consultation. The council has tried to go further rather than follow the rule book on consultation practice. Two case studies, the Gloucester Heritage Strategy and Cathedral Quarter Heritage Action Zone are examples of what can be done with a small amount of funding and capacity. GLOUCESTER HERITAGE STRATEGY The city’s ten-year heritage strategy was developed in 2019 as part of the Gloucester Great Place scheme, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England. The Great Place scheme placed a strategic focus on enhancing Gloucester’s heritage for all and sought to embed a culture of developing a holistic approach to the regeneration of the city. This would in turn seek to facilitate proactive working with developers, members, stakeholders, and partners, whether professional or residents of the city and beyond. The key to discussing the aims and challenges of the strategy was through stakeholder engagement and several consultations. Gloucester City Council working with appointed consultants and Gloucester Culture Trust decided to add to the standard consultation process of workshops, face-to-face meetings and online consultation, and try something different to be more inclusive and engaging. The Culture Trust appointed two creatives: the first of these were ‘The Fabularium’ actors who perform stories depicted through various media from acrobatic and circus skills to mask and puppetry, live music, and storytelling. The second was ‘The Whisperer’ who encouraged participants to think about the city of Gloucester in a deep and reflective manner. Both asked the same two questions relating to Gloucester’s historic buildings and areas: firstly, what would people like to see happen over the next decade? Secondly, looking more generally at the city’s strengths and weaknesses, what needed to change over the next decade? The Fabularium’s two actors, called Firm Footings and Faulty Bearings in Victorian costume engaged members of the public, targeting those under 30. The moveable act allowed the actors to approach members of the public who appeared interested in the act and willing to engage. They could move to various locations to gauge levels of engagement in di erent parts of the city centre. The survey was conducted over six one-hour sessions over two days and interviewed 69 people over the weekend. The results of the survey provided a good insight into Gloucester’s view of the term Heritage and how the public generally feels about the city. It has highlighted several key issues where the public agrees require attention, such as handling crime, anti-social behaviour, alcoholism, and the altered dynamic of public spaces at night. A need for reinvigorating public spaces that have been left to decline and become deprived in favour of areas that are considered landmarks and more popular with tourists was also identified. The Whisperer facilitated both group conversations and individual contemplation at Gloucester 55 Southgate Street, Gloucester before and after facade improvements enabled by the THI (both photos: Charlotte Bowles-Lewis)