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Thinking for the Future...
#1
I was saddened to read about the proposed cuts in the English Heritage budget following on from the proposed cuts in numbers of local government staff (which will surely affect heritage related posts) following on from the loss of one of of our oldest contracting units Birmingham Archaeology. I know many people are still in shock over the breadth and depth of these proposed cuts (and I don't want to intrude on anyones personal stress mountain or deflect from efforts to ameliorate the cuts) but I was wondering:

What should be our strategies for developing archaeology as a discipline and as a profession in the coming years? Are there any initiatives out there right now that hold out a glimmer of hope?

I just wanted to start the ball rolling on this debate (I think we need to have it!!) and I think it should extend to all areas and leave no stone unturned.

My own personal interest is heavily influenced as a result of coming into archaeology through the MSC schemes of the early 80s. I suspect that similar schemes may be proposed in the near future and wonder if we learnt much from the exercise last time round. I can't recall a lot of literature being produced on the subject, yet personal experience convinces me that the schemes were extremely influential. I know of a number of unit heads and senior archaeological figures in field work as well as academics who got their break in archaeology through schemes such as MSC. Many of our well established contracting units got their first major breaks through being involved with MSC schemes....

But it isn't just about work schemes that might keep units ticking over. I read Gerry Martin's article in the last IfA magazine about the possible advantages of self-employment (no comment!), and I was wondering if the planned cutbacks might push more archaeologists in that direction. Not necessarily through choice, but through the fact that there will be less 'employers' around to offer more conventional forms of employment. In which case should we be discussing varying forms of archaeological employment, perhaps in tandem with other work to supplement income.

The proposed merger between Wessex and Cotswold doesn't seem to be happening, but I wonder if anyone has explored or is exploring the options of co-operation between companies and individuals as opposed to competition. Or are our larger contracting units determined, lemming like, to dive over cliffs together?

And finally whilst BAJR might be our forum to discuss these issues, where is our mouthpiece to articulate our concerns?. I notice that whilst RESCUE have come out against the cuts, CBA, APAAG, IfA and our trade unions seem mighty quiet on the subject.....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#2
Aren't they quiet ................ and I think the larger units will cut their own throats given time................xx(
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#3
Sorry kev I haven?t a drop of simperphy for eh. I put eh somewhere below time team.

Are there any initiatives out there right now that hold out a glimmer of hope?

Unfortunately eh have not been abolished although my commiseration to anybody finding themselves Self un-Employed.

Quote:
Commissioners have determined that in the national interest we will protect:

our, especially given the cuts in local authority funding;

Note the juxtaposition of ?national interest? relying on ?local cuts?. Isn?t the eh ?planning advice services? just some dodgy London boroughs and aren?t those positions funded from the local level and if not why not. Does anyone know of any other examples? Are eh saying that they are going to take over local authority planning services?


Quote:
reduce our grants by around one third. We cannot yet go into detail about what this means but we are discussing with other organisations how to minimise the impact on the historic environment;


why cant they go into detail, why they so special. What other bloody organisations? I think that they will find that reducing grants by around one third the impact will be about a...wait for it ..aaa around about a third (its a maths thing). I don?t understand whats so important about their rights over grant giving. The national lottery were overnight experts at it and nobody blinked an eye, then there is the Aggregates levi mob, all joke outfits but you don?t have to be a statutory advisor to the government to give out grants, you just have to have a fund. I could do it, put it up for tender-what they scared of-my lack of ifa membership...what eh rely on being a RO?


Sorry if I am showing my ignorance but I think eh could take a 80% cut and we would not notice any difference in the wonderful world of archaeology. In fact I cant think what the level would be before we would notice a difference. It could give all its properties to the national trust, let the lottery carry on with its mickey mouse grants and as for eh?s so called specialists kept around just in case Silbury hill develops a hole in it, point out that the bbc quite happily excavated Silbury Hill without any statutory advisor to the puppyment. The national trust could put that work out to tender-repeats what you scared of-my lack of...
Reason: your past is my past
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#4
What would be interesting is what it would cost to get the liquidators in and close down eh. There would be the redundancy payments and the ever lasting pensions but could these be covered by selling the properties?
Reason: your past is my past
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#5
I disagree with you Uo1 (Of course!!) but you are entitled to hold an opinion on EH.

My disatisfaction with cuts in EH funding is that we will see the dissipation of many years of accumulated knowledge and expertise across the range of EH activities with no perceptible saving to the public purse. In the first instance redundancy costs will more than offset any potential savings and secondly maintenance work on EH properties and sites will still be required. One imagines that outside contractors bought in to cover the deficiences caused by EH staff reductions will charge 'premium rates', again resulting in extra costs rather than cost efficiences. As you wallow in 'schadenfreude' perhaps you might consider the implications of cuts for the sake of cuts rather than for any cost efficiences.

As we are (apparently) in a Domesday scenario regarding EH funding and staffing, I was thinking that BAJRites might come up with more positive suggestions as to the future. I mean is it time to realise that perhaps a 'national' heritage service amalgamating CADW, EH, Historic Scotland and the Northern Ireland DoE service might be one way forward? Such an amalgamation might achieve cost savings without severely impacting on the skills and professionalism of current staff. And whilst we are at it why not bring the National Trust(s) into the equation. Other countries seem to manage heritage fairly efficiently without the plethora of bodies that we have in the UK....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#6
is this what a stutory authority does for you?

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/support-us/join/

obviously being a english heritage member you should have an advantage over your average citizen smith.

i think that I can find most of that accumulated knowledge and expertise in disney world or the national trust which has its own act of parliament geared to the management of dodgy properties which we dont want to fall into the hands of the taliban or the lower classes.
Reason: your past is my past
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#7
kevin wooldridge Wrote:is it time to realise that perhaps a 'national' heritage service amalgamating CADW, EH, Historic Scotland and the Northern Ireland DoE service might be one way forward?
Well, I'd go for it but as a recent arrival, I don't 'do' national widdling contests, so I would say 'sure', wouldn't I?
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#8
British Heritage? Historic Britain (and Northern Ireland) Plc? Could maybe get Francis Pryor to helm it? Or better still Loyd 'Hawkish for the deficit' Grossman, FSA or Bill Bryson? Gave me a laugh over my lunch anyway. Tar :face-approve:
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#9
“Such an amalgamation might achieve cost savings without severely impacting on the skills and professionalism of current staff. And whilst we are at it why not bring the National idiots Trust(s) into the equation.”

kev If you think that of my shroudenfruden it isn’t a patch on the national idiots trusts'. The national trust are all over the, get rid of eh, great mass debate

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmcumeds/writev/464/048.htm

almost think that they have been reading some of my stuff

Quote:[SIZE=3]“The problem particularly affects DCMS’s Arm’s Length Bodies, since so many are established as charities, and are therefore required by law to hold adequate reserves or to raise funds from private sources for furthering their charitable purposes”
[/SIZE]

and they know their bullshit is based on

Quote:[SIZE=3]This private sector (no it blinking isnt)approach to funding arts and heritage is to some degree exemplified by the National idiots Trust’s own business model. Nearly a third (31%) of our income derives from the subscriptions of our members, with the rest of our income coming from legacies (16%), enterprises (14%), investments (9%), rents (9%), catering operations (8%), admission fees (4%) and fundraising appeals (3%).1 Just 6% of our total income is attributed to grants provided by the public sector and others, although of course we also benefit greatly from the tax advantages that come with our charitable status.
[/SIZE]


how can they claim that they have a business model
But hopefully at some point they will be shown to be no different to

http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/news/Article/1030653/portrait-charity-crisis-National-Trust-Scotland/
Reason: your past is my past
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#10
In respect of EH, clearly there are going to be a number of significant negative impacts as in-house specialist advisors are made redundant. Whether this will be balanced by these then becoming freelance consultants acting in an advisory capacity to EH is one thing; whether this would be a good thing is another important question to be asking. What will be the cost? What will be the impact on the passing on of knowledge and skills? What will come of applying apparently unrelated scientific techniques into the discipline? The potential for loss of this resource is immeasurable, as cutting will require further investment just to bring us back to where we are now; in the meantime we shall have moved forward: the catch-up will be proportionately longer.
The loss of EH funding will presumably impact on Heritage Gateway, OASIS, rescue and research funding for sites. Most other European nations have largely centralised mechanisms for management of the heritage industry; the plethora of volunteer bodies we have here is discouraged to some extent by the national heritage boards. Whether this is a good thing or not is largely in the eye of the beholder. But in those countries where the national body oversees the industry you tend to have better work conditions (for example, winter and summer kit provided by employer; better statutory working conditions; and where museums are by and large not free – access to museums either as employee or as union/professional body member). The private sector will not provide these benefits without stringent national or EU laws being not only applied, but also monitored. While such a union of national (CADW, HS, NIDoE, EH) would not only offend the sensibilities of one or two BAJRites, given the current struggle for national liberation in Wales and Scotland they are hardly like to yoke themselves to such a potentially un-nationalistic project whatever the long-term benefits – although given that Dave and Sarko have taken the first step to combining the British and French services, perhaps a joint heritage body for Europe is the way forward, but with regionalisation for the various parts of the union? However, that too is, I suspect, a step too far; notwithstanding the sense of combining the National Monuments Board with the rest of the regional boards of the Atlantic Islands. However, history is long and imperialism not easily forgotten.
I myself would be in favour of an Europe-wide board – which’ll cost (ha!) – using something like the Swedish IntraSis HER system. But that in itself would require county HERs to be wound down, replaced by ‘national’ HERs, which in turn would be tied into the European network of such. Clearly, that – on the Atlantic Islands – we have only peripheral contact with the rest of Europe, apart from in the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Ages, Iron age, Roman period(what have the Romans ever done for us, eh?), Saxon and medieval periods only demonstrates that this would be yet another EU-project to take the Englishman’s hard-earned pennies as another unfair tax, some might say. However, that aside, the practical benefits of an oline fully searchable catalogue of find-spots, excavated and unexcavated sites (the former including the entire site archive as in OA/WA Heathrow viewer), historic maps and so on such as IntraSis are, I believe, not yet fully understood in terms of the analytical potential. But, as ever, whatever is done – bar the total elimination of CASs, EH and any other bodies – the only intelligent way forward is investment – both inward into these bodies, and outward into other bodies which are developing the technology to make some of the tasks which we do easier.
To conclude, and to return to your opening paragraphs. I fear the return of the YOPs and MSC programmes. The benefits were fantastic – although it is easier to remember the good people who were involved and to forget the mad, the problem drinkers, the drug-users, the unwilling forced to work for a small hike in their benefits or lose everything – but in the meantime we now have a workforce where people have invested huge sums of money to be archaeologists – which has accompanied the professionalisation of so much of modern life (including most of the charitable sector which the blessed Dave thinks can be run on volunteers) – and a sector which is struggling to prove itself professional, in which diggers are desperate to be seen as professional, as specialist indeed, as any other part of the discipline. I feel returning to the days where uninterested and unmotivated individuals are only on-site to fill in the hours is wrong; notwithstanding, as you point out it was a fantastic entrypoint for others. But now, watching briefs are a significant part of the workload, evals come through consultants and you have to deal with more than other archaeologists during the working day. If we are to show we are professional and we should be treated and paid as such, running jobs on a shoestring and using volunteers or a conscripted workforce is not the way forward. To this end, I say ‘Yes’ where the bloody hell are Prospect, Unite, IfA ALGAO and all the other relevant bodies in our and their time of need?
Your Courage Your Cheerfulness Your Resolution
Will Bring US Victory
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