Herefordshire's Hidden Gems

Civic Fabric

Skills, Sustainability and Strong Futures for Culture

Tuesday 19 June, 2018

Herefordshire's first national culture conference, hosted by Herefordshire's a Great Place and supported by the Elmley Foundation, was held at The Left Bank in Hereford on 19 June, 2018. Almost 200 people who work across arts, heritage and culture came together to discuss skills, sustainability and how working together can help build a strong future for culture.

This digital download has been created by the Great Place team to share the Civic Fabric 2018 presentations, filmed keynote talks, and further resources that will help people working in the cultural sector dig deeper into themes discussed on the day.


Photographs by Kieran Warburton

Films by Rural Media


Keynote addresses


Church Buildings and Communities

Maintaining a sense of place and serving the common good


"Church Buildings, of all denominations, play a big part in the story of place and community in Herefordshire. They are the depositories of our stories, places full of our vernacular art, the workshops of our local skills and craftsmanship, places of culture and spirituality and a very real and visible presence in our landscape.  However, how much longer can these buildings be sustainable in the face of so many challenges?  What would be the impact on our local communities if we lost our church buildings – not just to our spiritual life, but our social and community life? Would it matter?  This talk examines the threats and how they are being tackled at a local and national level, looking at how a range of organisations are testing new ways of working, developing new models of governance and exploring a range of new funding options. Responding to the Taylor Review as well as the current HLF Strategic Review and funding position, it looks in particular at Social Enterprise and the opportunities and challenges of adopting this approach in rural churches, and if we agree that change is necessary - how do we remove the barriers to that change and can it even be done?"

- Wendy Coombey MBE, Community, Partnership and Funding Officer, Diocese of Hereford

Wendy has worked for the Diocese of Hereford for 17 years supporting parishes to develop projects that encourage closer working between church and community.  Her work has an emphasis on improving the facilities within church buildings to encourage new activities and services based on community needs. 


Useful links


Community Ownership

Unlocking the power of community


"Across the country, communities are using important local buildings and spaces to transform the areas where they live. Community ownership creates genuine community control, strengthens the local economy, supports community-led regeneration and transforms local services.

"This is a chance to learn about community asset transfer and the opportunity it offers, the foundations to successfully run community buildings and hear about those communities who have been there and done it like the Hero Project in Coalville and Wem Town Hall in Shropshire."

- Meena Bharadwa, Development Manager, Locality

Meena has over 18 years of experience working with communities and specialising in work around asset-based community development. Whilst working for Locality, Meena has led on work with Shropshire and Derby Councils on their Community Managed Libraries programmes; supporting local communities to develop partnerships and business plans to retain and develop their local libraries as sustainable community hubs.

    Useful links

    Strength in Collaboration

    Local and national museum partnerships


    "The perspective and meaning that museums can bring to people's lives are now more essential than ever. In rural communities museums can act as a hub for a multiplicity of social activities and when these are delivered successfully museums can reflect, through events and programmes, the shared interests and concerns of the local people they serve.

    "Museums are also adaptable, and in this current culture of cuts many have demonstrated innovation in working models and partnership structures. This presentation will explore the many ways in which museums have changed and how they are looking ahead, outwards and inwards, to identify the structures, people and skills required to allow them to manage change, become stronger, and ensure they are 'future proof'."

    Maria Bojanowska, Head of National Programmes, British Museum, London.

    In her current role as Head of National Programmes at the British Museum, Maria manages the museum’s national programme in close collaboration with a broad national partnership of over 200 museums and galleries. The national programme supports a portfolio of funded touring exhibitions and loans, as well as a responsive programme of sharing expertise and innovative vocational training for museum colleagues across the UK.


    Useful links

    Civic Fabric Workshops

    A range of people working in culture around the UK ran workshops at Civic Fabric 2018, with each session designed to look more closely at skills, sustainability and practical ways we can build strong futures for arts and heritage organisations. 

    Below are presentations from all six workshops, along with useful links compiled by workshop leaders and the Herefordshire's a Great Place team.


    Trust in Culture workshop at Civic Fabric 2018

    Trust in Culture workshop at Civic Fabric 2018


    This workshop took a closer look at different models of trust/partnership across the UK museum sector, including the transition to trust status, focusing on staff, training and skills required for new modes of operation.

    The session was facilitated by Dr David Prince and Simon Pearce (Prince and Pearce Consultants), Janet Tall of Southwest Heritage Trust, Michael Spender of Wessex Museums Partnership, and Tony Butler of Derby Museums.

    Click the buttons to download the individual presentations.

    Useful links:


    This workshop, led by Meena Bharadwa, Development Manager at Locality, explored how organisations can empower local communities through carefully considering social impact.

    The session asked attendees to consider what defines effective social impact as well as why it matters and to whom, from stakeholders to staff. It was also a chance to consider impacts in their local community and appropriate methods of evaluation.

    Click the button to download the workshop presentation.

    Useful links

    Community Churches workshop at Civic Fabric 2018

    Community Churches workshop at Civic Fabric 2018


    This workshop was an opportunity to hear from two community churches in Herefordshire that have adopted different governance models; changing the ways they relate to their local communities.

    At Peterchurch in the Golden Valley, the Hub@St Peters has reshaped itself and redefined its purpose as a community hub, while St Michael and All Angels in Brampton Abbots is currently exploring new kinds of operating structure that will promote local enterprise, including an artisanal bakery. 

    The session was led by Wendy Coombey from the Diocese of Hereford, Sara Coleridge, Project Coordinator for The Hub@St Peters, Sam Hine, Project Manager for the Daily Bread and Director of Communities Can, and Jo Pilkington, Director of Brampton Abbotts Church Regeneration Group.

    Click the button to download the workshop presentation.

    Useful links:


    This workshop was a chance to find out more about how to attract and support great volunteers across the cultural sector. There was a focus on offering great experiences; from increasing the capacity and confidence of hardworking teams, to offering further development opportunities - and insight about what happens when things go wrong.

    The session was led by Ellie Jones and Ana Vaughan of the National Trust's Berrington Hall estate in Herefordshire.

    Click the button to download the workshop presentation.

    Useful links:


    This workshop offered practical advice, explaining how using the stories of your past to inform your future bids enables you to create a stronger and more successful Activity Plan for funders such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. It also looked at some best practice examples of Activity Plans.

    The session was led by Sarah Hollingdale of Hereford Cathedral.

    Click to download the workshop presentation:

    Useful links:


    In this hour-long session Maria Bojanowska, of the British Museum, and Tony Butler, of Derby Museums, talked about trusteeship and introduced the hallmarks of what makes a good partnership - from creating a level playing field at the start to having a clear understanding of each partners' purpose. Participants also talked about good examples of partnership, and how to encourage and support effective partnership working across cultural organisations. 

    Useful links:



    We asked everyone who attended Civic Fabric 2018 what they wanted to get from the culture conference, and whether the event met their expectations. We also asked what we (Herefordshire's a Great Place project) could do more of, and what delegates wanted to talk about at future events.

    Here's a sample of what this year's conference attendees said:

    What are your objectives for the day? 

    • 'To hear about good practice, to hear inspiring stories about making heritage and culture more accessible to local communities, then take away and apply them.
    • 'To support forward movement for creative cultural matters in Herefordshire leading to economic stability'
    • 'To network and float ideas'

    What other themes or topics would you like to discuss at future events?

    • 'Resilience among volunteers'
    • 'Making community initiatives survive after the departure of the original team'
    • 'The role of parish and town councils in encouraging and supporting cultural initiatives'

    What could the Herefordshire's Great Place project do more of?

    • 'Provide more information on how freelancers can get involved'
    • 'I’d love to see more to support young/junior professionals'
    • 'This event was a great start, now let’s talk about class, gender balance, diversity, youth'

    If you attended Civic Fabric and you're happy for us to share your name and email address with fellow delegates, please opt in here. Your details will be shared only with those who attended the conference.

    To sign up for the monthly Herefordshire's a Great Place newsletter, click here.


    Civic Fabric 2018 was kindly supported by the Elmley Foundation.

    It was the first in a series of Pride of Place conferences being supported by the Foundation and organised by Herefordshire's a Great Place.


    "The Elmley Foundation has long believed that skills, knowledge, ideas and networks are as important to arts and cultural development as money.  It is very much in this spirit that we are delighted to be able to support the Pride of Place conference series as part of Herefordshire’s a Great Place. We are greatly encouraged to see the importance that Great Place attaches to workforce development, cross-sector partnership, and maintaining a positive and energetic attitude at times of significant change in the cultural sector."

    - John de la Cour, director of The Elmley Foundation (pictured)

    HaGP Civic Fabric 2018 - photographs by Kieran Warburton (30).jpg


    Herefordshire's a Great Place is a three-year cultural development project co-funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, with support from Historic England. It is being delivered by Rural Media on behalf of the Herefordshire Cultural Partnership. 

    Great Place is running three grant schemes, including Hidden Gems - a brand new scheme for Herefordshire that asks organisations to nominate 'hidden gems' of heritage and work with artists, communities, heritage experts and digital specialists to raise the gem's profile. Four grants of between £6,000 and £12,000 are available in 2018. The deadline for applications is August 12. Hidden Gems will run again in 2019. You can find more infomation, guidelines and the application form on this site (see homepage).

    You can read more about Herefordshire's a Great Place project at: