Rising stars: a Creative Partnership: Seaton Delaval Hall, the National Trust

Paul Ring, Jean Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This research redefines how collaborative creative practice and institutional partnership can be used to stimulate a change of approach that democratises conservation and heritage.

The project, a partnership with the National Trust (NT), relates to the development of a future strategy for the management of Seaton Delaval Hall, a heritage property of significant architectural and historical interest. It explored novel approaches to setting up a project team, identifying priorities and applying for funding, and sought to expand and formalise learning from a previous project at Gibside Hall.

The researchers’ involvement marked a radical shift from the NT’s traditional focus on protection and restoration to prevent loss, to occupation and use. Individuals from creative practice were appointed to management positions within the project, redefining the value of the heritage asset as a primer for creative and cultural practices and using these practices as a stimulant for community engagement. Extensive stakeholder involvement at the beginning of the project allowed the project to grow organically around areas of interest to the local and wider community.

The resulting bid broke the mould for traditional National Lottery Heritage Funding, creating open ended briefs around themes (conservation, cultural management, stories through objects and constructed space) rather than output-driven actions. Its success led to the funding of 17 creative projects for events and occurrences to run alongside (and provide a framework for) capital works, redefining the estate as a visitor experience with new and developed attraction.

The methodology for creative partnership working established through the project has helped redefine how the NT works in partnership with others, using collaborations as instigators of action. The project has allowed the organisation to rethink how they manage their estates and reshape public expectations of visits to their properties.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2021


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