(Mono)town: The intangible heritage of industrialisation

Participants of a summer school in Donbas walking across green meadowThe history and heritage of industrialisation can evoke conflicting emotions for local communities. While past industrial achievements can be a source of community identity and pride, the environmental impact of industrialisation and the socio-economic challenges of de-industrialisation can also negatively affect the lives of local residents.

Regeneration projects have tended to focus on adaptive re-use of industrial heritage objects – as museums, tourist attractions, galleries, and community spaces -- in an effort to revitalise economically depressed areas and strengthen local communities. Less attention, however, has been paid to the intangible heritage of industrialisation: the culture, values and relationships that exist in communities that were invested materially and symbolically in industrial production.

This project works in a sustained way with local communities, archives and museums to develop a series of participatory initiatives. It encourages community engagement with industrial history and heritage, builds local networks and capacities in the heritage industries, and fosters new forms of creativity around industrial heritage collections. Outputs from the project include:

  • exhibitions
  • theatrical performances
  • musical compositions
  • participatory artworks
  • installations.  

This project emerges from Dr Victoria Donovan’s research on industrial development, post-industrial transformation and cultural identity politics in Ukraine’s industrialised East and in post-industrial communities across the UK.

The research has been funded by:

  • the Carnegie Trust
  • Arts Council Wales
  • the Scottish Funding Council Global Challenges Research Fund for Official Development Assistance.

The project was carried out in partnership with

  • Peak: Art in the Black Mountains, South Wales
  • the Centre for Urban History of East Central Europe, Lviv, Ukraine
  • IZOLYATSIA: Platform for Cultural Initiatives, Kyiv, Ukraine.

The project has been covered in long reads in The Telegraph, BBC News, BBC Ukraine, and Radio Svoboda. Victoria Donovan has been interviewed about her research on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking and Arts and Ideas programmes.