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Applications are now open for the 2023 Community Heritage Grants (CHG) program. The CHG program offers cash grants of up to $20,000 to community organisations. The grants support organisations to preserve and manage collections that have Australian cultural and historical significance.
‘We continually see the benefits of the CHG grant program, as small, volunteer-run organisations work with professional assessors to better understand their collection and are then well placed to implement practical measures to care for the collections they look after,’ said Fiona Clarke, Assistant Director, Collaboration Branch.
Since 1994, the CHG program has provided over $8.4 million in funding to more than 1,600 projects nationally.
Last year, $420,097 was shared between 57 regional and community groups, including Tranby Aboriginal Co-operative Limited, Trafalgar Holden Museum, Queensland Braille Writing Association, Flinders Palaeontology, Mawson's Huts Foundation, Australian Academy of Science and the Ngurratjuta/Pmara Ntjarra Aboriginal Corporation and many others.
Historical societies, regional museums, archives and galleries are invited to apply, including Indigenous and multicultural organisations. The grants enable groups to work with consultants to undertake significance assessments and preservation needs assessments and based on these reports, deliver preservation and conservation, collection management, and digitisation activities. Funding is also available for training workshops.
‘Our message to new applicants – the most competitive applications are those that are well planned and convey the strengths of their collection and commitment of their organisation. We encourage applicants to read the guidelines and then speak to our CHG team at an early stage about their proposal’, Ms Clarke said.
General applications close midnight (AEST) on Monday 8 May 2023. Previous CHG program recipients have an extended deadline, with applications closing on Thursday 1 June 2023.
To find out more and apply visit nla.gov.au/chg.
CHG is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts; National Library of Australia; the National Archives of Australia; the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Museum of Australia.
Examples of funded projects
Miss Porter’s House – National Trust (NSW)
Miss Porters House is a National Trust (NSW) house museum, located in the heart of Newcastle, NSW, with a rich collection reflecting domestic life in the pre-1950s era. Built by Herbert Porter whose family ran a business in Hunter Street immediately behind, the house was occupied by the family from 1910 to 1997. From 1919 onwards, when Herbert died in the influenza epidemic, the occupants of the house were all women – Herbert’s wife Florence and her two daughters, Ella and Hazel. The only National Trust property in Newcastle, Miss Porter’s House, and all its contents, was bequeathed to the Trust by Miss Hazel Porter and is now cared for by a volunteer Management Committee of the National Trust.
The collections reflect the lifestyle of the Misses Porter and their mother and are remarkable for their comprehensive nature and for the light they shed on how this household managed to live in frugal comfort by their hard work and good management. The textile and craft collections – including fine examples of dressmaking, knitting, embroidery and stencilled fabric – are highly significant and testify to the skill and creativity of the Porter family. The documentary heritage collections provide evidence of meticulous recordkeeping across all areas of life – from family history to household management and to records of the pastimes that the family enjoyed.
Community Heritage Grants has supported this mainly volunteer-managed organisation undertake two important projects – a significance assessment, completed in 2021, and a preservation needs assessment, which is currently underway. The significance assessment has already proven to be extremely useful.
All of our volunteers were very excited about the opportunity the grant provided for the house and its contents to be assessed by an external expert. We arranged for a welcome dinner for the consultants on their first night in Newcastle. This was a great way to meet each other and to talk informally about the assessment process and to give an overview of the house and some of the stories of the Porter family. Importantly, this was also an opportunity for the volunteers to be able to talk of their involvement with the house, in some cases over many years.
The assessment process was conducted over 2 days with different volunteers involved… We knew that Miss Porter’s House was special in many ways but the feedback [from the significance assessment] was even more exciting than we had hoped.
National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum is a self-funded, largely volunteer run organisation dedicated to the preservation and presentation of railway history. The historic archive section of the Museum covers railways throughout Australia more broadly, and the display pavilions house over 120 items of railway rolling stock related to South Australian Railways, Commonwealth Railways, and private operators, on all 3 major railway gauges in use throughout Australia's history.
The National Railway Museum, based at Port Adelaide, secured a grant in the CHG 2021 Round to work with a qualified historian to undertake a significance assessment of their collection.
We found the CHG process to be simple and user-friendly. The grant is deliberately set up so that organisations start with applying to fund a significance assessment (if they do not have a current one) as significance assessments are vital for effective collection management.
This significance assessment can then form the basis of collection operations and can also highlight items in the collection that are more significant than originally believed. It provides a single document that outlines, for current workers and for new ones, why the collection is valuable and what meaning it holds for a range of audiences and groups.
By focusing on what is significant, organisations ensure that they are utilising their resources appropriately. The greater understanding of the collection through the significance assessment can assist workers in grasping why the organisation focusses on particular items, and why the preservation of collections is so important. I would strongly encourage other organisations to consider applying, it is a rewarding process that helps streamline collection management and reinvigorate those working with the collections.
Images for media use are available for download via Dropbox.
Mirelle O'Mara, Media Liaison, National Library of Australia
M: 0401 226 697