On Saturday, there's a conference on Intangible Cultural Heritage in the UK: promoting and safeguarding our diverse living cultures. It's at the Museum of London Docklands, West India Quay. It's about time.
The 2003 UNESCO Convention defines Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) as: oral traditions and expressions, traditional craftsmanship, performing arts, rituals and festivals, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and social practices. So far, and quite shamefully, the UK (like North Korea) has not signed up to the convention (160 countries have). I blame those Defra civil servants and Tory MPs who abhor Morris Dancing, May Poles and cheese rolling to equal degrees.
I'm a huge fan of the idea of Intangible Cultural Heritage which I first came across in Hong Kong's New Territories at its rather wonderful museum of that name. I spend hours there. How can you have a museum devoted to the intangible, do you say? Well, quite easily, if you have culture, heritage and imagination. Maybe that's where we go wrong ...