Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (arts 128)

1 We are grateful for this opportunity to explain why the National Lottery should be available to fund arts and heritage projects in the UK's Overseas Territories.

2 The Overseas Territories and the British citizens who live in them have difficulty raising funds for vital projects. Most have tiny populations in relation to their rich built and natural heritage; they often also lack locally some of the skills needed to frame and carry out projects which have great importance for the UK's heritage and its international obligations. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, UNESCO's World Heritage Convention, the Agreement for the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP).

3 "Silent Summer" (Cambridge University Press, 2010) is an authoritative study of the wildlife of the UK and Ireland, including the overseas territories. Apart from the 23 endemic bird species in the territories, the study noted that "a majority of the world population of many species of seabirds (including about half the world’s breeding albatrosses) depend on UKOTs in the South Atlantic. The UKOTs hold substantial areas of sensitive ecosystems, including making the UK one of the world’s most important coral nations."

4 The remoter territories - Pitcairn, British Indian Ocean Territory, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, Ascension, the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands – cover a small land area (16,713 km2) but a huge ocean area (total EEZ/ EFZ of 5m km2 – compared with the UK's EEZ of 764 thousand km2). However the total population of these territories is only some eight thousand; and many of the most important islands for biodiversity have no resident citizens and are extremely difficult to access. So, for the National Lottery to exclude the UKOTs is like making an arts and heritage provision which rules out all projects in Great Britain's offshore islands – no St Kilda, no Scilly Isles, no Lundy, no Anglesey, no Isle of Wight, no Neolithic Orkney, no musical Shetland, no Hebrides. For an island nation proud of its maritime heritage across the globe and with that heritage still vibrant in the overseas territories, the current position needs to change.

5 A major problem is that their status as British sovereign territories means most international sources of funding are not open to them - or only with difficulty and with support from the UK government. However, many UK funding sources are also closed - because they are not "in" the UK. They are British but overseas, out of sight and out of mind - until a natural or political disaster: the Montserrat volcano or the Falklands War.

6 The prime source of UK funding for heritage projects is currently closed to the UKOTs. This is not because of the legislation under which the National Lottery was set up, but simply as a policy decision by its board. It is time for this restriction to be removed.

7 Such funding as does exist is tiny. The Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP), jointly funded by the FCO and DfID, has a budget of only £1 million per year. It is designed for small-scale projects and it does not apply to the arts, the built environment, or terrestrial or marine archaeology. However, the National Lottery is ideal for larger projects, including those that can protect the integrity of World Heritage Sites, where the average expenditure in the metropolitan UK has been nearly half-a-million pounds per project.

8 National Lottery tickets are not sold in the UKOTs. While this might be possible in some, the crucial reform needed is to allow UK organizations and individuals to bid (sometimes with partners in the UKOTs) for funding for projects to be carried out in one or more UKOTs. The UK's own heritage will be a beneficiary since these are all British sovereign territories, subject to oversight by HMG, especially in respect of international treaty obligations. Ministers are answerable for them, in Parliament and internationally.

9 Access to the National Lottery for projects in the overseas territories would have great benefits for policy and outcomes. UK civil society could work with government to tell an inspiring story in the UK and internationally about Britain's care for its heritage. A topical example is the RSPB's proposed restoration of the raised coral reef habitat of the Henderson Island World Heritage Site. The National Lottery is just right for helping complete the funding for a project that will provide benefits for many generations.


· The UKOTs contain a rich built and natural heritage, from the Georgian gem of Jamestown to the Bounty Bible, historic wrecks such as HMS Roebuck, many globally threatened endemic species and the testimony - in St Helena and in Caribbean territories - to Britain's role both in the slave trade and in its suppression. Much will be lost without access to adequate funding.

· Access to the National Lottery matters not just for funding, but for access to UK conservation skills and policy guidance. [Even though Bermuda has its own rich human resources, in putting together a bid to the World Heritage. Committee, Bermuda needed to draw on  invaluable help by a UK consultant with experience of such bids.  Bermuda paid, but many poorer territories would not have the resources to do so.]

· Especially valuable would be support for archives, museum work, local natural history collections and oral history.

· As Britain treats its overseas territories and their people, so will it be judged, at home and abroad.. Our record is poor. Reform giving projects in the territories access to  the National Lottery would make a huge difference.

· Several UKOTs currently have no resident citizens (South Georgia, British Indian Ocean Territory) and are wholly run by UK-based organizations; others have such small populations that it is unrealistic to expect them to be able to fund serious heritage projects (Pitcairn, Tristan).

· The UKOTs already have three World Heritage sites : Henderson Island (Pitcairn), Gough Island (Tristan) and The Historic Town of St George (Bermuda -site of the oldest parliament in the Western Hemisphere), with the World Heritage value also widely recognised of  South Georgia and of the Chagos Archipelago. 

· In 2007 Britain commemorated the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Overseas Territories in the Caribbean were unable to participate as they did not have funding or access to UK funding. The Heritage Lottery Fund provided £20 million to events, exhibitions etc in the UK but provided no support for the OTs. The Turks and Caicos Islands Museum is leading a project to uncover the Trouvadore, a slave ship that wrecked there in 1841. The survivors increased the population of TCI by 7%, a direct result of the 1807 abolition of the slave trade Act and the 1834 Emancipation Act. Due to lack of resources TCI's National Museum was unable to participate in the 2007 events. This was a travesty for TCI and for UK communities that would have benefitted from TCI involvement.

September 2010