IHBC Yearbook 2021

26 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 2 1 pages become more popular. With restrictions easing last summer the launch event needed to be active, outdoors, socially distanced, and social media driven. The Cathedral Quarter Project Officer came up with the idea of a 3D interactive archaeology event. The aim of Interactive Archaeology was to raise awareness of the project, and to engage local people with the history and heritage of the area through an innovative art installation. It was also intended that the event would attract people back to the high street safely (given Covid-19), with a well stewarded and managed event which would draw people in and provide improved footfall for local businesses. Gloucester is an ancient city and significant archaeological remains of the city walls, Roman buildings and even medieval churches survive beneath the city streets. The project aimed to interpret and engage people with that heritage by bringing some of these to life in three-dimensional form as pavement art. Five pieces of artwork were set out along Westgate Street, depicting different archaeological features and Westgate stories. Joe Hill (3D Joe and Max) was chosen to deliver this artwork as he states that his artwork is not complete until someone is interacting with it, by posing within it and taking photographs. An accompanying exhibition and consultation event were held in a vacant empty shop which explained more about the history of the street and offered the chance to find out about the Cathedral Quarter project. An online survey was promoted and made available for the following two weeks for local people to complete, asking for perceptions of Westgate and feedback on the types of event that they might attend, help to organise, or participate in, to inform a programme of cultural activity. Stewards gave out small cards to as many visiting groups as possible. These cards had the hashtags to use when posting images on social media and a QR code which linked through to the survey website. Social media coverage was very strong, and we had lots of visitors and survey participants as a result. We asked people for three words that they would use to describe the street. We will ask the same questions year on year and see how the results change. The results were posted on social media so that they could be seen. A word cloud was used for this as it is quite an easy visual representation of the responses. The event was well received, boosted responses to the survey and gave us the responses we needed for both baseline information and for development of our cultural programme. A video recording the event can be seen at vimeo. com/462698343. With our cultural programme we will be taking on community producers to work with local people to come up with ideas for events and activities that bring heritage to life. Again, involving local people in the early stages and developing their skills and abilities to continue with this type of work after the project closes. Cathedral Quarter HAZ has also launched a reminiscence project, ‘Westgate Stories’ in partnership with Gloucestershire Archives, the Museum of Gloucester, Gloucester Civic Trust and Gloucester Cathedral Archive. People’s knowledge and past experiences are important to us in helping to shape the project. We need that input. We need local people, and we want them to help us. Through this aspect of the project, we can engage them with the wider project aspirations and help to spread the aims and key messages of Cathedral Quarter. Hopefully, people will feel that they are contributing and helping us to deliver this project. If they are involved in this way, it is much more likely that the work done, and the awareness raised will continue after the project is completed. The vacant shop unit we used previously is being fitted out as a consultation space and will be used as a venue for drop-in sessions about the project and to pass on information, photographs, memories and stories. Having a presence on the High Street will really help with the consultation and engagement activities planned over the next three years. WHAT’S NEXT? We have learned that opportunities to consult, engage, and to gather information for evaluation are woven through all aspects of work in the historic environment. The challenge is to identify them early, make them relevant, interesting, and useful. Questions need to be carefully chosen, and the methods or media used must be suitable for the audience and the type of information we wish to gather. If feedback can be encouraged through events, or through experiences tailored to your audience, all the better. It is hoped that with the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions we can undertake engagement and consultations again face-to-face. However, in the meantime the virtual world has been embraced and, in some cases, wider audiences have been engaged. Therefore, this new technology should not be forgotten, and a mix of platforms should be continued to be used post pandemic. We are still learning in Gloucester and not everything will be successful but it’s worth a go, and always worth seeing what that person with the clipboard wants to ask you. Charlotte Bowles-Lewis is Principal Conservation Officer and Claire Dovey-Evans is Cathedral Quarter Project Officer, Gloucester City Council. A word cloud used to help people visualise responses to the Cathedral Quarter consultation