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The Harris redefines its Community Empowerment Guidelines

Harris front view exterior

Harris front view exterior

23 June 2022

New Community Empowerment Guidelines have recently been developed to ensure the local community remains at the heart of the Harris' work.

The Harris Community Empowerment Guidelines are primarily focused on including the local community in all aspects of the Museum, Art Gallery and Libraries work. Supporting the Harris mission of helping people to understand and appreciate art, heritage, history and science.

With a desire to be authentic in representing the diversity that is within Preston, the Harris want their community to have a voice, to be involved in the decisions that affect them and most importantly, to know they are being listened to.

Relating the Harris Community Empowerment Principles to both internal and external daily practices, the guidelines are to encourage questions on how the Harris can support local communities, and how best to communicate with them. Driving a community-led approach where individuals can present their views on how they would like to see change.

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for Culture and Arts at Preston City Council, said,

"Recognising the importance of conversation and collaboration between staff, volunteers and visitors will affect positive change within the Preston community. The principles aim to embrace the diversity in Preston and provide opportunities for Prestonians to participate in their community.

"Working in democratic ways will guarantee that the Harris reflects the community it is part of. After receiving lots of feedback over the years from local people who say that the Harris doesn't represent them - that it only represents a narrow section of people. It is time to change this. The aim is for community empowerment to become part of everything the Harris does, becoming a natural way of working."

Community Empowerment requires more inclusivity and accountability from the community throughout pivotal phases such as the planning, delivery and review stages. The guidelines will be used by staff from all teams and across all levels at the Harris, encouraging the Harris volunteers, freelance staff and external partners to embrace and champion the guidelines.

Currently, the Harris Museum, Art gallery and Library is closed until 2024 for the Harris Your Place project. During this period of closure, the Harris is working to redefine its core principles to place community empowerment at the centre of everything they do.

The Harris Museum is currently operating from other local spaces around Preston including the Guild Hall.

More information

For 127 years, the Harris has been both a cherished space for communities to come together and a home for world-class culture, exhibitions and collections. Each year, Preston's Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library welcomes and inspires more than one thousand people a day from every walk of life. It's a landmark, drawing visitors to Preston from far and wide.

But years of daily use mean Preston's beloved Grade I listed building urgently needs attention. And, as we all face tough and uncertain times, it's a free, open and welcoming space for everyone to enjoy, whatever your background or circumstances.

Harris Your Place is a £14 million project to restore and reimagine the Harris as a 21st century community, cultural and learning space. Conservation is needed to reveal hidden original architectural details and to tackle the leaking roof and damp basement which pose a threat to the Harris' collections.

In March 2021 the Harris was granted £4.5m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund - a critical piece of funding to deliver an ambitious £10.02m reimagining of the iconic Grade I listed building.

The Harris Your Place capital scheme has also been made possible thanks to a further £3.6m from Preston City Council; Lancashire County Council; the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal; Arts Council England, and public donations via the Friends of the Harris. Other key supporters include the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), the Harris Free Public Library and Museum Endowment Trust, and The Harris Charity.

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