IHBC Yearbook 2021

30 Y E A R B O O K 2 0 2 1 countries. What all these cases have in common is a group of people who care. Nothing new, you think, of course they do. Why else would you get involved in a heritage project? Because it is so self-evident, I want to explore this idea of conservation (including restoration and heritage protection more generally) as a form of care. What are the ways we (don’t) care, the issues we (don’t) care about, the things we (don’t) care for, and who do we (not) care for? What if the ethics of care are the ethics of conservation? What is this care for, what does it do, who benefits from it? It might seem easy and innocent to think about care, and conservation, as inherently good – but are they? In the various case studies in OpenHeritage project we explore collaborative approaches. They take different shapes everywhere, but what’s clear is that more ‘people-centred’ heritage projects are happening all across Europe. Exploring the ‘human’ dimension in heritage can mean a variety of sometimes overlapping things. Some focus on (future) use and users, other on making a wider range of stories, memories, traditions, practices, and skills integral to the process. It is visible in the everincreasing demand for involving and engaging more people, whether that is to identify, define, (re)use, research, or restore the historic environment. It is also reflected in the changing role for heritage professionals, who are to facilitate these relations between people, and between people and heritage. This goes beyond organising engagement or skills development. In Sunderland for example, we work on a restoration project located on a former high street in the Heritage Action Zone.¹ The buildings saw underuse, vacancy and deterioration for decades. The current gradual restoration led by the TWBPT is undertaken in collaboration with various other local stakeholders, to develop new uses, create mutual benefit in doing the buildings up, and provide accessible space for a variety of users. It was clear from the beginning that developing a viable future for these dilapidated buildings would mean tending to their material, as much as it would be about stimulating, facilitating, and weaving a self-sustaining network of care around them, to ensure future maintenance and use. So, yes, the work includes the usual construction and restoration works. It also means that from the very beginning, we try to develop and facilitate collaborations with and between (future) tenant(s) and users, local organisations, small businesses, artists, neighbourhood organisations, the local college and university, local government and the wider heritage sector in Sunderland and the region. This networkbuilding and collaborative work is entangled with ensuring sustained care for these buildings. This is not just fun events and creative workshops, but a long-term and often invisible process of meetings, strategising and plotting plan a, b and c, of working through conflicts, setbacks, and successes, of figuring out and formalising financial and legal responsibilities, risks, and contracts. Some people care first and foremost for the buildings, whether that is its layers of history, bricks, or the accuracy of the restored shopfronts. Others care much more for the space that is created, and the building is valued for its ability to provide accessible space, a safe space, an event space or a community space, or a place to meet, to chat, to listen, to experience, to learn. Both care for the buildings, yet the latter are often not seen as part of the conservation process. However, aren’t heritage values, historic interest and character all part of how accessible and welcoming these spaces are? I think the answer becomes more obvious, when we ask ourselves who is – and who is not – being cared for by caring for this heritage? Who was considered in deciding which stories would be highlighted, whose needs and voices were taken into account when redesigning the space, which histories are carefully researched, and which are carelessly, or conveniently, forgotten? It can be complicated and expensive to navigate planning, heritage, and building regulations and procedures. As a result, it may seem A temporary space adjacent to the Jam Factory in Lviv, Ukraine, and (below) a jam jar from the late 1990s, one of the objects the Jam Factory team received from the people who took part in the Tell your Story project (Photos:The Jam Factory)