CBA Strategy: 2006–2011
CBA Roles, Aims & Goals 2006/7–2010/11
Principles & Priorities
1.1 Current strategy
The work of the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) for the years 2000/1–2005/6 has been based on the following broad strategic statement agreed by Council members on 24 February 2000:
The aim of the CBA is to promote awareness of the past and a sense of appreciation and care for the historic environment. It will achieve this by the practical means of promoting understanding and research, conservation and education and access through effective communication and participation.
In response, the organisation has focused its heavily-stretched resources in four main areas of activity:
- Education (including the Young Archaeologists’ Club)
- Public Participation and Outreach (including support of National/Regional Groups)
- Publication, Information and Communication (including support for research)
- Conservation and Advocacy (including buildings and archaeological casework)
1.2 Looking ahead
This document sets out a revised strategy for the CBA for the years 2006/7–2010/11. As a first step in the process Trustees met on 27 February and 29 April 2004, to identify the future priorities for the CBA. In particular they focused on five questions:
- The CBA’s role in an increasingly complex historic environment sector.
- The special strengths it should build upon in fulfilling that role.
- The activities to which it will need to give unchanged or increased focus.
- The activities in which it may need to reduce its investment of time and money.
- The way in which the CBA would like to be perceived in 5 and 10 years’ time.
The interim conclusions emerging from those discussions have been further debated and endorsed by both National/Regional CBA Groups and by the Council’s staff, whose opinions and comments have been incorporated within this concluding statement of the CBA’s priorities for the coming five years.
2.1 The CBA’s position in the heritage world
Trustees, National/Regional Groups and staff recognise that the heritage sector has become much more populous over the last decade. This is welcome evidence that archaeology and the historic environment of which it is an integral component are now seen as significant by many more parts of society than before. At the same time it requires a previously generalist umbrella organisation like the CBA to think more carefully about the roles for which it is best fitted in this increasingly plural world.
It is agreed that there are now other organisations as well or better placed to carry out some of the roles that the CBA previously fulfilled on its own, including the promotion of professional standards (eg IFA) and political advocacy on behalf of the historic environment (eg National Trust, Heritage Link).
In this increasingly specialised environment, the unique role of the CBA must be to build stronger bridges between the professional and voluntary parts of the sector, and to ensure that they all have access to the reliable knowledge about the historic environment that they need to fulfil their own roles in its understanding, conservation and popular enjoyment.
2.2 The CBA’s unique strengths
The core strengths on which the CBA’s future success will depend are its:
- independence of view, both from government and the heritage professions;
- breadth of view across the whole complex world of the historic environment;
- range of its geographical representation across the regions;
- integrity in terms of the quality and impartiality of its information and advice;
- access to the enthusiasm and energy of its membership and network of Groups;
- reputation for the knowledge, friendliness and helpfulness of its staff;
- willingness to work in partnership with the others.
2.3 The CBA’s areas of special focus
As a backdrop to the more detailed operational planning of the CBA’s future work programmes, the following guiding principles have been agreed, to which others may need to be added as the planning process proceeds. The CBA must:
- be clear, consistent in the principles it upholds on behalf of archaeology;
- ensure that all its advice is impartial and based on sound objective knowledge;
- not feel compelled to take the lead where it does not have to;
- speak out when it knows it represents a common voice or fundamental principle;
- develop a more supportive relationship between regional groups and the centre;
- actively support its institutional members, especially local societies and Groups;
- be willing to kick-start new initiatives, but then be prepared to set them free;
- facilitate access to research, especially through synthesis and dissemination;
- be willing to reach to audiences beyond the ‘professional’ and ‘serious amateur’;
- ensure the sustainability of its income from public and private sources;
- ensure it continues to meet the access requirements of the Charity Commission.
Having agreed that the CBA must be prepared to focus its resources to its areas of special strength, Trustees have identified a series of more specific priorities under three main headings:
Advocacy at a national level is good and important; it adds weight to the CBA’s image and is a proper function for an umbrella body representing more than 500 constituent organisatons. Proactive and reactive campaigning on behalf of archaeology and the wider historic environment should both remain core elements of the CBA’s business, but we must distinguish more carefully between the causes for which we intend to campaign and those which we leave to others better placed to take the lead.
In terms of casework, it is imperative that the CBA retains an active monitoring role so long as the archaeological interests of buildings are not otherwise being reliably addressed. It is a key principle that the CBA should do everything in its power to build bridges between the study and care of archaeology and buildings, and to encourage their universal recognition as inseparable components of the historic environment. We must nevertheless ensure that our involvement in casework remains largely, if not wholly, funded by Government and does not place unsustainable pressure on our other educational and outreach activities. Over the next five years our key priorities must be to:
- adapt quickly to the opportunities and challenges of e-planning;
- build better links between our casework and community involvement;
- continue to respond reactively to major proposals involving key issues of principle.
In terms of campaigning, the CBA must build on its past success in energising and working with others. It must also continue the trend of the last 10 years by which it has progressively focused its campaigning to themes specially relevant to its sectoral role. Themes over the next five years are likely to include:
- opportunities for greater public involvement in all aspects of archaeology;
- better-funded local government services, founded on knowledge and;
- persuading Government that archaeology matters, for both individuals and society.
3.2 Public Participation
Two of the CBA’s greatest strengths are the breadth of its membership beyond the professional core of the heritage sector, and its outstanding reputation for encouraging the active participation of both children and adults in archaeology. Encouraging access for all is a key priority of both government and the heritage sector as a whole, and must therefore continue to underpin all of the CBA’s educational and outreach work.
As a facilitator of others, especially those in the voluntary sector, the CBA must over the next five years focus its energies on six priorities:
- understanding people’s needs (both as individuals and in terms of CBA Groups);
- promoting best practice (especially through celebrating exemplary local activity);
- encouraging closer partnerships (between schools, universities, volunteers and professionals);
- helping CBA Groups to encourage greater participation in archaeology, especially amongst 16–25 year olds;
- forging closer links between archaeology and historic buildings (especially in the context of a reformed system of historic environment protection)
- developing the CBA’s brand for the benefit of those who can harness its power
In terms of its in-house activities, the CBA needs to concentrate on:
- increasing the number and outreach of Young Archaeologists’ Club branches;
- using National Archaeology Days and meetings to attract new adult participants;
- using British Archaeology to engage and inform a much wider popular audience;
- ensuring that future CBA research projects maximise their outreach potential.
In addressing these priorities, Trustees have identified four additional guiding principles:
- Public outreach is the CBA’s core territory, and we will strive to unlock the wider educative and social value of archaeology and the historic environment.
- The CBA’s educational role must remain distinct from that of other providers, especially those whose offering is tied to specific portfolios of historic properties.
- The quality of archaeological presentation in the media must be championed through the promotion of a better balance between knowledge and entertainment.
- Popular participation has the potential to unlock new sources of income, but individual funding opportunities must not be allowed to skew the CBA’s over-riding responsibility to deliver broad public benefit.
3.3 Support Services
One of the CBA’s most important strengths is its inclusivity and its reputation for helpful friendliness linked to knowledgability. Another is the range and penetration of the support services that it provides to the voluntary and professional arms of the sector. All of these are valued, and none are seen as easily disposable – although continuing to fulfil them all at present levels may be a significant challenge unless additional capacity can be obtained, either in the form of new funding or in the switching of resources from other areas of activity.
Trustees have not attempted to rank the services currently provided, nor are they able to judge the relative levels of investment that each will need over the next five years if it is to meet the needs of its audience. They have, however, agreed that the services currently fall into three main categories:
Research-linked services (paid for out of ear-marked grants and thus self-funding) which provide specialist information, primarily to professional and academic users comprise:
- British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography;
- proposed database of current archaeological research;
- paper-based and digital publication of CBA research reports;
General information services (paid for out of core CBA funds) which provide advice and guidance to CBA Groups and members, and increasingly to the wider circle of non-members whose awakening interest the CBA is seeking to arouse.
Specialist services to sectoral groups (paid out of a combination of core CBA funds and special-purpose funding), which currently include:
- CBA National/Regional Groups;
- Young Archaeologists’ Club (child protection and health and safety advice);
- insurance schemes (a unique and specially valued service);
- small grants;
- practical handbooks;
- webserver links;
- recruitment and training of volunteers
- campaign support.
4 5-Year Vision
As well as arguing the need for a clear framework of operational priorities for the organisation, Trustees believe that the new strategic plan needs to set out a more general vision of what the organisation should seek to have achieved in five years’ time. The following are some initial aspirations that need to be further refined and quantified in successive annual operational planning documents, and thereafter adopted by Trustees as formal measures and indicators of success.
4.1 How will we be seen?
- as an effective champion of the public interest in archaeology;
- as an authoritative adviser to whom government will wish to turn;
- as the leading authority in the field of archaeological education;
- as the natural hub of an electronic information service for the sector.
4.2 What will we have achieved?
- CBA’s existing member organisations provided with the support they want;
- CBA playing a more focused and effective role in the world of e-planning;
- Government persuaded that archaeology matters for ordinary people;
- a large new popular audience captured through British Archaeology;
- the CBA’s web-site recognised as the source of news and information;
- the YAC and National Archaeology Days programmes each increased in size;
- complex in-house research projects working in closer partnership with others.
4.3 How will we be funded?
- our current funding from the British Academy and English Heritage maintained;
- our overall dependency on BA and EH reduced through new streams of revenue;
- our membership income increased by an agreed percentage above inflation;
- our capital and running-cost reserves increased to an agreed sum each year.
5 Next Steps
In handing over this high-level statement of the Council’s strategic priorities to the CBA’s executive Director and senior staff, Trustees have identified two concluding principles which they believe should underpin the plan:
- While continuing to serve its existing members and stakeholders, the CBA should give priority to reaching out to the huge popular Time Team audience that currently remains outside the world of mainstream archaeology.
- Over the next 5 years, the CBA needs to develop the confidence to grow and expand, but before doing so it must consolidate its existing structure and concentrate its resources on what it does best.
- Support Us