23 Nov 2023
by Heritage Open Days

A collage of eighteen photos showing people posing inside pink New Wave selfie frames.
The pink New Wave frames got plenty of use this year! (© HODs 2023 / Jack Herron / Paul Harris / All Saints North Street / Mechanics Institution Trust)

The 2023 programme

This year’s New Wave programme saw fourteen organisations produce a range of distinct, unique events together with young people. A number of this year’s cohort took inspiration from our 2023 theme of Creativity Unwrapped with cyanotype printing and local creatives’ stories in Sheffield and performances in Liverpool.

Giving young adults the opportunity to have their say in heritage events saw a range of important themes and social issues emerge – from creating neurodiverse safe spaces, celebrating pride and belonging in Sunderland and Norfolk, to encouraging upcycling in Oxford.

A crowd looking towards a theatre stage with multi-colour lighting, pride flags, and bunting decorating on the ceiling.

Celebrating Pride at the Pavilion in Norfolk. (© Gorleston Pavilion)

It also saw a wide variety of hobbies and interests illuminated at different sites, such as a deep dive into the history of gaming in Bath Assembly Rooms to a look at wellness through the lens of Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Many events featured interactive elements, with competitions and challenges up and down the country, such as an escape room in Nottingham, and creative tasks and prizes to be won in Birmingham and Yorkshire!

Getting young people involved

14 people in a classroom like room, stood against the back wall decorated with writing.
Our 2023 New Wave cohort at the Foundling Museum. (© Heritage Open Days)

A key aspect of this programme is collaborating with young people to co-create events and help create a vision of heritage for the future. More than 100 young people got involved as active decision makers helping to plan the 14 events across the programme. Their feedback shows that taking part in New Wave could help inspire future generations of heritage leaders, as:

  • 100% felt proud of what they had achieved
  • 91% have a better understanding of how the sector works and would like to continue working or volunteering in heritage
  • Almost 3/4 are now considering a career in heritage

Participant impact

Equally for sites involved, the benefit of working with young people in this way is clear:

  • 100% agreed that they enjoyed their time on the New Wave Programme
  • 100% of organisers agreed that they enjoyed working with Young Adults
  • 73% of participants agreed that being involved allowed them to step away from their ‘normal’ day-to-day and think differently
The in person training sessions were so nice and welcoming, I always looked forward to them!

Organiser participant


A lady wearing a white shirt with HODs logo, A HODs logo lanyard standing in a lobby with pink bunting running up the stairs

The Old Library, Liverpool. (© Paul Harris)

'I loved it - for me it was my first time applying for any kind of funding and my first opportunity to oversee a project! It was super welcoming and beginner-friendly, I learned things that I can definitely take forward for the future when planning more events!'

Organiser participant


Visitor impact

Over 1,000 visitors attended the 14 events across the programme. Visitor comments show that audiences enjoyed the hands-on and experience-led nature of many of the events, and many visitors mentioned that they appreciated seeing 18-25 year olds involved in organising and putting on events. Here are some examples from the programme:

Mixing with History and Wellness at Hall’s Croft

This tranquil event was a hit with visitors who enjoyed music, herbalist wisdom, flower crowns, crafts, and mocktails in a beautiful historic setting.

Three people sat on chairs outdoors playing musical instruments - a harp, a cello, and a violin.
 Music, mocktails, and more at Hall's Croft. (© Shakespeare Birthplace Trust)
Very enjoyable and unique event. Lovely to be able to access somewhere that has been mostly closed since lockdown. Enjoyable flower crown workshop, interesting herbalist demonstration and lovely atmosphere with the evening garden lights and mocktail bar. It makes me wish that more events were put on in more places around Stratford. There are some beautiful sites but access to them can be either very expensive or heavily restricted. Everyone was very friendly and it was a lot of fun. I would definitely want to attend similar events in the future.

Event visitor


Stories from the Soil

This beautiful Victorian cemetery offered a fascinating insight into some of the creatives of Sheffield’s past with cyanotype workshops to try too!

The event was really inspiring. It brought to life the stories of working class people and the temporary exhibition told those stories sensitively. Wardsend Cemetery was a really zen place, it was quiet and peaceful and the printing workshop was a real treat. I came away with something connected to the site and that I would probably frame!

Event Visitor


It was very pleasing to visit an event that was conceived and run by young people. The art workshop was interesting and easy to participate in. The information boards were easy to read, colourful and informative. Safe paths to use were highlighted by Heritage Day promotional items.

Event visitor


Liverpool Lives

The iconic Old Library in Liverpool came to life with performances by young local artists and the stories of people from the libraries past.

A small crowd sat around tables watching a performer with a guitar.
Young locals performing in the iconic Old Library. (© Paul Harris)
Delighted the event was organised and facilitated by young adults between the ages of 18 - 25. It was good to see these students given the chance to showcase their talents in front of a live audience. Plus the building itself is fab.

Event visitor


A big thank you

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s New Wave programme and creating such brilliant events. Whether by volunteering, joining the cohort, visiting an event, guest speaking, or hosting one of our training days – THANK YOU for being part of this special project!

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