UCL Careers
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    The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.

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    We hope you enjoy reading the Blog and will be inspired to tell us your views.

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    Karen Barnard – Director, UCL Careers

    UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London

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    Interested in working in the Cultural Heritage sector?

    By Chloe J Ackroyd, on 14 November 2017

    Read some thoughts below about getting into the sector. 

    Cultural Heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values (ICOMOS, 2002). Cultural Heritage is often expressed as either Intangible (such as traditions and language), or Tangible (such as buildings, works of art, and artefacts), and Natural (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity). Perhaps unsurprisingly then, there are a variety of career options within this vital sector.

    How do you want to engage with cultural heritage; the maintenance, protection, promotion, teaching or communication of it, selling it, researching it, writing about it, creating products related to it, or organising events associated with it?

    Freya Stannard of Arts Council England shares her thoughts of getting into this fascinating sector:
    Working in the arts, culture and heritage sector is rewarding but can be tough. Jobs in this world are incredibly popular but more wide-ranging than you might expect. If you have already decided what path you want to take, e.g. curator of contemporary art or paintings conservator, it is much easier to focus and gain relevant experience to start you on this road. You may not have decided however and that is fine as I guarantee there are interesting roles out there that you may not yet know exist. If this is the case, make sure you continue your development by being proactive and making the most out of any opportunities that come your way.

    After taking the Masters in Cultural Heritage Studies, I did not expect, or plan to be, the Manager of the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes at Arts Council England two years later. A lot of people now have Masters in the sector and it is therefore important to show employers something different. For example, whilst I was in an admin role at Tate, I took advantage of the development budget and did a Diploma in Art Profession Law and Ethics at the Institute of Art and Law outside of work hours. Taking on something in your own time, which shows your interest and dynamism, is something I certainly look for when recruiting.

     It is also worth thinking about the sector and responding to its issues in your own experiences. This shows you have a wider breadth of perspective and are therefore more desirable and employable. For example, since funding for arts and culture has declined from central government as well as local authorities, organisations have had to be enterprising and imaginative in their ways of making up the shortfall. Although I work at the Arts Council, I do not work on funding and I looked to gain my own experience elsewhere. I have been able to combine this with a personal interest in helping the local elder community in my borough and for nearly a year now, I have been a fundraising committee member for Link Age Southwark. I was able to do this by attending volunteer training and talking to one of the trustees. It is worth noting that gaining this relatable experience in a slightly different sector provides another perspective which will add to your unique skills.

    The key is to get out there and meet people. This will lead to more opportunities, experiences and knowledge of the sector which in turn will help develop and shape your career, often in ways you may not be able to predict!


    The following panelists were present at the Cultural Heritage Forum on Monday 13th November. If you missed this event, the audio will soon be available for you to listen back upon.

    Dr Jane Sidell. The Inspector of Ancient Monuments for London is a role that dates back to the 1800s, Today, Jane is the archaeologist with that incredible responsibility of protecting London’s most iconic sites. Follow this link to a short blog where Jane talks through some of her favourite objects and artefacts.

    Freya Stannard, Manager of the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes at Arts Council England. In recent years Freya has been developing her knowledge of the legal and ethical issues around ownership of art. She is currently increasing her understanding of the global art market at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

    Ruth Dewhirst, Education Assistant in the Charles Dickens Museum. A recent MA Museums and Galleries in Education graduate, Ruth supports the museum’s efforts in preserving and communicating Dicken’s cultural significance.

    Nick Bishop, Senior Heritage Consultant at Planning Consultancy Lichfields.  Nick provides heritage advice on alterations to listed buildings, and development within the settings of conservation areas, scheduled monuments and Registered Parks and Gardens.