Intangible Cultural Heritage and Communities: how can ICH strengthen the role of communities in managing their heritage?

Australia ICOMOS Webinar Series 2021

Intangible Cultural Heritage and Communities: how can ICH strengthen the role of communities in managing their heritage?

How can communities shape and strengthen their role in heritage? What tools or practices would assist in encouraging involvement?

This webinar was the first of Australia ICOMOS Webinar series, and its focus was Australian and international experiences, projects and case studies that show community engagement in action.  What worked well? What were the challenges? What tools assisted in the identification, conservation or management of ICH by communities? 

This webinar of Australia ICOMOS NSC on Intangible Cultural Heritage took place on Wed 26 May 2021.

It was supported by Australia ICOMOS as part of new annual program of webinars to engage with members and the public to share our experiences.  

The Australia ICOMOS National Scientific Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage (NSC-ICH) aims to provide a focus for professional development, building awareness and advancing practice in relation to the intangible cultural heritage associated with places and environments, both natural and cultural.


Storytelling as a tactic in local heritage advocacy: A case study of ‘Save our Sirius’ and ‘Save the Place’.

Freya Keam discussed the findings of her Masters thesis which explored the use and effectiveness of storytelling as a community advocacy tactic for the protection of places of intangible value. Heritage places of social significance, such as pubs, theatres, and other community meeting places, are left vulnerable to demolition or inappropriate development. When this occurs, it is often the community who must quickly mount and case for its protection.

Please access Freya’s presentation here.

The site of the former Ballarat Children’s Home, Ballarat Orphanage and Ballarat District Orphan Asylum

Catherine McLay shared her experiences including the missteps, successes and learnings in leading a project at the City of Ballarat to integrate heritage interpretation into the redevelopment of the former Ballarat Orphanage and Children’s Home. A group of ex-residents were at the centre of deciding how their stories will be told on site and perhaps surprisingly, the planning scheme was one of the most influential factors in ensuring this happened.

Experience and Challenges in Managing the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Craft Production in “Ethnic” Communities: Case Study of Ganzhou, China

Yawen Xu described the experience and challenges in sustaining the intangible cultural heritage (ICH)  of traditional craftsmanship in Ganzhou’s Hakka communities. She will provide a brief overview of how craft production and craftsmanship transmission are conducted in contemporary Ganzhou Hakka communities, with a focus on how the Chinese government, both at the national and local levels, encourages local communities to participate in the ICH of craft-related practice.

Please access Yawen’s presentation here.

Access the event recording here:


Freya Keam, VIC

Freya Keam is a graduate of the Dual Award Masters of Cultural Heritage and World Heritage Studies from Deakin University and Brandenburg Technical University. She currently the Heritage Advocacy Advisor at the National Trust of Australia (Victoria), supporting campaigns for the protection, recognition, and celebration of the state’s cultural, natural, social, and Indigenous heritage.  Freya is a committee member of the Emerging Professionals of Cultural Heritage (EPoCH), a member of Australia ICOMOS, and the recipient of a High Commendation in the 2020 Australia ICOMOS Presidents Award. 

Catherine McLay, VIC

Catherine is an historian with expertise in the areas of collection management, interpretation, heritage planning and intangible cultural heritage. Catherine applies this multidisciplinary knowledge in her current role as Project Officer at the City of Ballarat. Here she manages and contributes to community-driven projects implementing the Historic Urban Landscape (‘HUL’) approach to managing heritage across the municipality, as part of UNESCO’s HUL pilot program. 

Yawen Xu, WA

Yawen Xu is a PhD candidate, casual teaching staff, and research assistant in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia (UWA). In 2021, her doctoral thesis examination has passed and she is estimated to obtain a PhD degree at UWA in July. Her doctoral study on heritage craft production in China explores how best to balance the sustainable development of profit-driven modern craft industries with the long-term conservation of the ancient and significant Chinese ICH linked to craft production. Her interests concern craft production, ICH management, cultural transmission and heritage tourism.

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