Being a BAME Trainee with Historic Houses
Scrolling through the varied and interesting Heritage Training Placements on offer this year through Historic England, I was excited to come across a training placement in Digital Marketing with Historic Houses. After graduating with a degree in Classics from Cambridge last summer, I taught Latin and French at a local school, which helped to develop my interests in learning and improving public access to art and culture. I soon realised that I wanted to work towards a career that would allow me to share my passions for art and heritage, while providing me with an opportunity to promote people's engagement with history and culture.
Historic Houses, although a small organisation, appeared to be doing so much to not only support the maintenance and restoration of historic homes, but to also help more people engage with these houses as living, breathing sites of history in the present day. I was therefore very pleased to learn that my application had been accepted and was very keen to contribute to the work being done by the organisation.
I felt very welcome and supported, quickly becoming a valued member of the communications team. As well as learning lots more about marketing in a heritage setting, I was introduced to all of the different departments and how they all are connected. My role involved writing, editing and uploading content for the Historic Houses website, producing and sending out emails and the Historic Houses monthly e-newsletters for house members and visiting members and managing communications across the organisation's social media platforms. I also had a main project to complete across the eight weeks, which was to assist James (Director of Marketing and Development) by creating surveys and collecting in the results from members and non-members in person, over the phone and online. It was really rewarding to have the time to have experience of seeing a project through from beginning to end to bookend my time on the placement.
A particular highlight of the placement was having the opportunity to visit some of the organisation's member houses. I found the work being done at the different houses so interesting, as each house has its own set of stories to tell and different ways of sharing them. Lots of effort is being made to explore the history behind the properties and their inhabitants in new and exciting ways, with many houses putting on exciting events, exhibitions and learning programs to encourage increased engagement and access. The enthusiasm from people working at the houses as well as visitors about history and culture showed me just how much people on the whole care about heritage and reminded me how relevant and interesting it can be for people of different generations and backgrounds, being a way to bring different people together.
This was most clear towards the end of the placement, when all of the people on placements through Historic England were invited to their offices in London to meet for the first time and share our experiences. The placements were offered to more people this year, following research revealing that in 2016-2017 only 4.3% of the Historic England work force described their ethnicity as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME). I was excited to meet other people who had been on one of the placements at other organisations and was almost surprised by how diverse and interesting our group was. These placements brought a collection of BAME young people together through our collective appreciation for heritage as well as our shared desire to have as many people to contribute to it and learn from it as possible. The projects we had all been working on were all very different and showed just how broad the heritage sector is and the career opportunities and interests within it, from research to marketing to policy.
I am now certain that I want to make a real difference in the arts and heritage sector, making up part of a (hopefully) ever growing and diversifying body of people who are working towards the preservation and celebration of cultural heritage in the UK (and beyond). I want to continue to help these stories and histories reach broader audiences for generations to come.