Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communication

Centre for Critical Studies in Museums, Galleries and Heritage

My Castle Gateway project launches in York

July 6th, 2017

Image courtesy of My Castle Gateway

Helen Graham will be working with Phil Bixby (York Environment Forum) and the City of York Council to develop a long term public engagement strategy linked to a regeneration project in the Castle Gateway area of York.

The My Castle Gateway project builds on the ‘How should heritage decisions be made?’ project (2013-2015) and My Future York (2015-ongoing), both of which have actively experimented with participatory approaches to local decision making and place-making.

The project is designed so that anyone who wants to shape the future of the area can get actively involved. It is underpinned by positive principles: that local people’s creativity, local knowledge and energy are needed to make places. However, the My Castle Gateway approach has also been designed to address widely noted weaknesses with conventional approaches to public consultation.

Helen Graham, Associate Professor in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, said:

“The impetus for developing the My Future York project, and now working with the City of York Council on My Castle Gateway, is the problem of consultation – this was a key issue raised repeatedly as part of the ‘How should heritage decisions be made?’ project.

“Consultation is usually not designed in ways which enable people to engage with the complexity of the issues, to take into account other people’s needs or views or to take responsibility for the outcome. Consultation, therefore, has a range of negative effects and often just exacerbates cynicism, from both decision makers and members of the public.

“My Castle Gateway is designed to actively address the weaknesses in consultation through sustained long term conversations.”

The project launches this month and will begin with series of community-led public events to explore what matters in the area and what people would like to be able to do there – leading to a collaborative statement of significance and a brief with which the Council appointed master planners will then work.

My Castle Gateway is supported by the Leeds Social Science Institute and Economic and Social Research Council Impact Acceleration Fund. The ‘How should heritage decisions be made?’ project and My Future York were funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Connected Communities programme.

More information about My Castle Gateway can be found here.

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