In October, AHI members gathered to explore how heritage interpretation can adapt, embrace, and connect in an age of change.
The highlight of our 2022 calendar was undoubtedly the fantastic conference we held on 12-14 October at the Hilton Garden Inn in Snowdonia National Park, Wales. It felt like a gleaming jewel of brightness, set within the heavy arc of another uncertain year. Aptly named The Connection/ Y Cysylltiad, we joined together and celebrated our first in-person conference since the merriment of pre-pandemic times.
The conference was opened with a beautiful keynote from Andrew White, Wales Director of the National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF). He shared how an open definition of heritage has helped communities build meaningful connections in Wales and across the UK. Drawing on rich case studies, he shared principles and examples of working with young people and hard-to-reach communities.
Site visits included the spectacular Great Orme and Penrhyn Castle, industrial Blaenau Ffestiniog, the Deep Mine Tour of Llechwedd Quarry, and a walking tour around Dolgarrog on the Rural Conwy Sacred Trails route.
A rich palette of parallel sessions preceded and followed. Workshops and presentations included Cadw’s 15-minute Heritage which gave members of the public a way to interpret heritage on their doorsteps, there were exciting games workshops by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Upstart Theatre, a micro-workshop to interpret wildlife of The Great Orme by VisitMôr, Bath Preservation Trust shared ways to re-interpret colonial heritage at Beckford’s Tower through community engagement, and Wrexham Museum and Haley Sharpe Design presented how they developed A (football) Museum of Two Halves.
We also explored how the AHI Code of Ethics can support interpreters to embrace challenges with safety and professional confidence. With over 20 presentations and workshops, packed into three days, plus site visits, the programme provided a sense of intrigue for every interpreter.
The conference also offered a springboard to launch the bi-annual AHI Engaging People Awards which will be held next year in Lincoln. The team introduced the eight award categories for project nominations, plus individual awards for Young Interpreter and Outstanding Contribution to Interpretation. It’s exciting to see award nominations rolling in and you can still nominate a person or project. Find the details here and check eligibility: https://ahi.org.uk/awards/entry/
True to its theme, it was wonderful to connect with so many interpreters after so long. We were inspired by the rich interpretive stories shared by our presenters, the energy and enthusiasm of our delegates, the impeccable scene set by the hotel and its staff, and the spectacular landscape of Snowdonia and its Welsh heritage.
We are very grateful to Core for being our main Conference sponsors. We were proud to provide five early career interpreters living or working in Wales support to attend or stay at the conference with bursaries from Haley Sharpe, ATS Heritage, NGX, Barker Langham, and Heritage Insider. We also want to thank our conference team who created this stellar event.
Beth Môrafon is the AHI Chair and VisitMôr Director. She can be contacted at: [email protected].
To cite this article: Môrafon, Beth (2022) ‘Stories from the AHI conference’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 4-2022, pg.25