With our new Catalyst Cymru: Resilient Heritage project now accepting applications, WCVA’s Catalyst Project Manager Alison Pritchard wonders what heritage means to us.
It’s fair to say that when you think of heritage, the first thing that comes to mind is probably some sort of castle or historic building (especially in Wales where there are more castles per square mile than in any other country in Europe).
In light of our brand-new project Catalyst Cymru: Resilient Heritage kicking off this year, I asked my new WCVA colleagues how they understood Welsh heritage and what it meant to them.
Firstly, there’s the more ‘touristy’ side to Welsh Heritage; its award-winning beaches, mountains, almost mountains, estuaries – there’s an area of outstanding natural beauty around every corner (and maybe even some rare wildlife to boot).
Not forgetting the famous churches, abbeys (and ruined abbeys), castles (and ruined castles), and long history with ties to the Tudor dynasty, Owain Glyndwr, the Iron Ring…it’s no wonder tourists flock to Wales every year.
While the tourists will leave with a knowledge of our landscape, they hopefully also get a glimpse into Wales’ rich cultural identity.
The annual Eisteddfod (which we had great fun at this year – did you see us?) draws thousands from across the world to celebrate Welsh culture and language.
The Eisteddfod is also a battleground for famous Welsh choirs – granted the battle is sometimes between the choirs and the audience – and Wales does love a singalong at every opportunity.
Finally, Wales’ culinary delights have touched the hearts of people across the globe (quite profoundly in some cases) along with its poets, actors and artists.
Of course, there’s the lesser known histories of the people that have come to Wales through the centuries, and helped to shape modern Wales, including but not limited to;
- The Italian community developing in Newport and Glamorgan (as was) in the 18th century
- The evolution of Tiger Bay and Butetown into a bustling hub of different backgrounds and ethnicities
- The influence of Liverpool on North Wales.
Making a difference
And last but certainly not least, when people in Wales want something to change, they don’t waste any time in getting together and making it happen.
Look at groups like the Newport Rising Chartists, and the miners in the 84-85 miners’ strikes… or organisations like the Tredegar Medical Aid Society who created a new way for people to support each other’s health and became a model for today’s NHS.
And this is still evident in the hundreds of charities, community groups, and clubs that we support every day.
‘Very small on our own’
But what does the above tell us? Clearly heritage is not one thing – it means different things to different people.
One of our colleagues shared this definition:
‘To me, understanding ‘heritage’ means understanding that people have been in the exact places you’re in for absolutely ages, and future people will have their own problems and insignificant issues and in the grand scheme of things, we are really very small on our own.’
About Catalyst Cymru
Catalyst Cymru is open to voluntary sector organisations in Wales working with heritage. The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, who define heritage as the following:
- Historic buildings and monuments
- Nature and Landscapes (historic gardens, wildlife, woodland)
- Industrial, maritime and transport
- Museums, libraries, archives and collections
- Intangible heritage (such as the preservation of memories, or oral history projects)
- Community Heritage
If your organisation’s primary charitable activities fall under any of the above, you could benefit from participating in any of the Catalyst Cymru: Resilient Heritage activities.