What would you pass down to the next generation that is uniquely Jersey?…

This is the question that will be asked next week by Jersey Heritage at the launch of an exciting new ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (ICH) project that aims to document, celebrate and ultimately to protect the traditions, knowledge, music, stories and customs that capture the heart and soul of the Island’s rich cultural tapestry.

The launch takes place next Wednesday, 17 July and a cross-section of people from the community have been invited to hear what the project is about and how they can get involved. The suggestions put forward will eventually form an inventory of intangible heritage that could be considered for UNESCO World Intangible Heritage Status. Designation would require safeguarding measures to be put in place to keep the heritage alive for the future.

Vic Tanner Davy, Jersey Heritage’s Head of Programmes, said community engagement was vital to the success of the project. He said: “Intangible heritage is held in the things that we do and say, the knowledge we hold and the traditions we value. Our ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ project is wide-ranging and by its very nature needs as many people as possible to get involved and ensure the knowledge and customs that are most dear to Islanders are protected for future generations to learn about and enjoy. Once we have a comprehensive list that meets the criteria, we will put it out for public consultation before the final choices are submitted to UNESCO.

“We are launching the project with a group of community leaders, ranging from the religious to the sporting, Irish to Black African, business to charitable, and arts to farming. We believe their insights and suggestions are crucial to ensuring that the list reflects the vibrant diversity of Island life and hope they are inspired to share the project with their communities and to get them involved. Once this stage of the project is complete, we will be opening it up to the public in general and hoping that Islanders feel inspired to put forward their suggestions.”

The ICH project follows the UK signing of the 2003 UN Convention for the Protection of Intangible Heritage in April 2024, which requires a list of intangible heritage to be drawn up. Jersey is not yet a signatory, but the Government’s Heritage Strategy already seeks to protect the Island intangible heritage.

Jersey Heritage engaged UK experts Jonathan Karkut and Julie Scott, of Touch TD, to get the ball rolling by focusing on three examples of intangible heritage in the Island that could potentially make the final list submitted to UNESCO.

These examples are:

  • Jersey Surfing Scene (eg knowledge of waterways/ expertise in board making)
  • Jersey cow (eg notion of the breed/ breeding knowledge)
  • Coastal navigation (eg knowledge of waterways/ navigating the tides)

Information about each of these examples will be shared by Islanders at the launch. There will also be a presentation by Jonathan and Julie explaining more about intangible cultural heritage, its importance and what other countries around the world have taken steps to protect.

Following the launch, a host of targeted and drop-in workshops are planned for the autumn, marking the second phase of the project and further engagement with the community.

Picture/ interview opportunity: The official launch of the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ project takes place at Société Jersiaise Members’ Room in Pier Road on Wednesday, 17 July from 12pm-2pm.