16 C O N T E X T 1 5 7 : N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 INGVAL MAXWELL Brexit and UK research into cultural heritage Where the UK sits in determining and making available funding for its future research programme into its cultural heritage-related needs remains uncertain. Although the UK has perhaps not gained as much from European-funded cultural heritage research projects as other countries, a consider- able amount of existing relevant information and knowledge can be sourced from within the EC’s complex archive. This article seeks to review some of the developing processes by which related research projects came about and offers a few pointers as to where to start look- ing. In doing so it also alludes to the question of how the UK might go it alone after Brexit. In reviewing the collaborative cultural herit- age research activities, it is essential to recog- nise that the names of evolving opportunities, advisory groups and supported projects rely on a profuse use of acronyms, generally and contortedly extracted from their fully worded descriptors. This article is not immune. EU support for cultural heritage until 2008 Between 1986 and 2006, involving over 500 uni- versities, research centres, museums and private organisations, the European Commission (EC) supported at least 120 Europe-wide cultural heritage research projects through its various programmes. In 2009, a two-volume publi- cation Preserving Our Heritage, Improving Our Environment helpfully summarised and indexed the situation: Volume I: 20 years of EU research into cultural heritage1 provided an overview while, spanning 2000–2008, Volume II: Cultural Heritage Research: FP5, FP6 and related projects² reviewed some 100 cutting-edge studies into preserving and restor- ing historic buildings, monuments and artwork, frequently involving advanced technologies and non-destructive means. Currently spanning 26 countries with 150 member organisations, the European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP) was founded in 2004 to create an integrated stakeholder vision for Europe’s built environ- ment³. Its significance rests in its recognition by the EC as an effective means of helping define research and development priorities and requirements in its pending Framework Programmes (FP) and related intentions. Placing an emphasis on future heritage research needs, the ECTP Focus Area on Cultural Heritage (ECTP-FACH) was launched in 2004⁴, emerging as one of the then seven (and currently 38) topic-specific focus areas (FA). Looking towards 2030, the themes of the 2005 FACH Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) were integrated into the wider ECTP SRA, with its opportunity to influence future European research programme themes and topics. In determining the Priorities and Strategies to Support Cultural Heritage Research Activities within ECTP and Future FP7 activities (CHRAF), an 18-month project ran from 2006, with the results being offered in the CHRAF Report Summary⁵ and disseminated during the 2008 8th European Commission Conference on Cultural Heritage in Ljubljana. It might be fairly claimed that the ECTP FACH initiative helped create a significant awareness of cultural heritage requirements in the European research funded agenda. During the period 2007–2013, the FP7 programme emerged as the EU’s main fund- ing instrument for collaborative research and technological developments⁶. As one example, details of the 2010-initiated, €6.6 million, The town of Loket on the Ohře River, Czech Republic (Photo: European Year of Cultural Heritage)