Today the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, announced that at least £10m would be set aside to fund projects marking some of the United Kingdom’s most important anniversaries and commemorative events.
Over the next four years at least £10m of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) money will be invested to ensure that those moments which form a central part of our national history are commemorated and understood.
Events such as the Diamond Jubilee, and the Olympic and Paralympics Games showed how events can bring the nation together. This new fund reflects the fact there is enormous enthusiasm to provide more opportunities to foster the sense of community spirit and national pride that such events can inspire.
The funding will help to highlight important historical dates that will resonate with people and communities right across the UK. It reflects the British people’s appreciation of the significance of their country’s unique history and the potential for the marking of anniversaries to encourage feelings of national pride and a sense of unity.
Some of the moments on the horizon that could be supported by this initiative include: the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth in 2014; the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the 600th anniversary of Agincourt and the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015; the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, and the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth in 2016; as well as a range of significant dates relating to the 2nd World War and a decade of anniversaries in Northern Ireland.
The funding will be provided to ensure that projects of all sizes can apply for support from smaller grants of a few thousand pounds up to grants over £2m.
Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, said: “Our island story is unique. It is inspiring and educative in equal measure and there is so much to learn from our rich history. This new Anniversaries Fund will give us the opportunity to commemorate, to celebrate or simply to remember. But, more than that, it will allow us to come together as a country, to share moments of national importance, and to continue to be reminded of Britain’s place in the world.”
Historian Niall Ferguson said: “Burke said that the real social contract is between the living, the dead and the unborn. By reminding today’s Britons of key moments in our country’s history, the government is making an important effort to strengthen our contract with the past. We have a duty to remember more of our history than only those sacrifices we honour on Remembrance Day.”
Philosopher Roger Scruton said: “Our country has a long and distinguished history. We have been path-breakers in the defence of individual freedom, the rule of law and the sovereignty of Parliament; we have achieved historic victories, not least in recent times, when our civilisation was under threat; and we have endowed the world with some of its greatest artistic and literary monuments. There can be no better use of Heritage Lottery Fund money than to support those who wish to commemorate such achievements by celebrating their anniversaries, and I commend the Culture Secretary for this important initiative.”
Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of HLF, said: “Few will forget the most magical events of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including an opening ceremony that celebrated UK culture and its achievements and highlighted major moments in our history. We also had the opportunity as a nation to unite people and celebrate excellence. There are many other key times of celebration or sadness from our past and from the diverse stories of these islands that have left a similar impression. This lottery investment will ensure that these pivotal moments, places or people will not be forgotten by future generations.”