Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

About Us

The Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee of ICOMOS-UK works to enable ICOMOS-UK to integrate Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), as defined by the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and associated Guidelines, into its wide-ranging activities relating to the understanding, safeguarding and promotion of heritage.

What We Do

Our Objectives are:

1.To create an awareness and understanding of the 2003 UNESCO Convention and ICH Guidelines among ICOMOS-UK and its membership, heritage partners engaged directly or indirectly in the understanding and safeguarding and promotion of heritage, the UK National Commission for UNESCO, the State Party and the civil society and culturally diverse communities across the UK; to work towards supporting and encouraging UK ratification of the 2003 UNESCO Convention taking account of diverse views.

2.To broadly frame ICOMOS-UK’s work in the area of ICH within the following five ICH Domains as set out in the 2003 UNESCO Convention and Guidelines and other key genres that emerge in the course of the committee’s work:

oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage

performing arts

social practices, rituals and festive events

knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe

traditional craftsmanship

The Committee recognises significant potential for fluidity of practice and for cross-fertilisation between these domains; it will also consider the relevance to its work of other areas of arts and heritage practice that emerge in the future.

3.To encourage good practice in the management of ICH through advice, education and training undertaken jointly with other relevant ICOMOS-UK Committees and/or heritage partners engaged in promoting and safeguarding ICH.

4.To develop a forum for dynamic discussions and debates on issues relating to ICH in the UK and feedback from the international committee as appropriate.

5.To maintain close links with the ICOMOS’s International Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage and its work and guidance on the identification, protection, interpretation, and management of the intangible cultural associations attributed to monuments and sites.

The Committee gains strength from:

  1. ICOMOS-UK’s commitment to ICH in its work and through a dedicated Committee focusing on ICH
  2. The professional expertise and experiences of the Committee members 
  3. Links with Civil Society through the diverse community arts and heritage network across the UK and other relevant voluntary sector network 
  4. Links with ICOMOS-UK’s ICH membership and other relevant arts and heritage professionals and practitioners
  5. Partnership with wide ranging heritage sectors/organisations including museums and galleries, archives, libraries sectors
  6. Links with key state agencies and international organisations including Arts Councils, central and local governments, DCMS and the UK National Commission for UNESCO; DIFID; British Council etc.  
  7. Working with and on behalf of bearer communities (including groups and individuals)


Clara Arokiasamy, OBE, Chair, President of ICOMOS-UK Founder and chair and provides lead on ICH. Expertise includes: a strategic overview of ICH in the UK and abroad; ICH and Diaspora Communities and diverse heritages in the UK; Community Engagement

Finbarr Whooley, Vice Chair, Museum of London Director of Content, Deputises for the Chair of Committee. Expertise includes: Museum Collections and ICH

Dr Ataa Alsaloum, Architect and a Lecturer in Architecture and Urban Heritage, the University of Liverpool                      

Dr Jo Buchanan, Independent Consultant. Expertise includes: Festivals, World Heritage Sites and ICH, ICH and Cornwall 

Dr Janice Cheddie, Independent Arts/Heritage Consultant. Expertise includes: Archives, Decolonisation, community heritage 

Michael Cooke, Arts Council England, Relationship Manager SE England. Expertise includes: Arts and Heritage Sector, Museums and heritage funding 

Brandi Hall-Crossgrove, Chair, Combe Down Heritage Society. Expertise includes: Historian and World Heritage Specialist, Emerging Professionals

Katy Spicer, CEO, English Folk Dance and Song Society. Expertise includes: Folk Dance and songs; Arts organisation leadership

Susan Denyer, Secretary, ICOMOS-UK, Advisor to the Committee

About the ICH Committee and the UK Government’s Decision to ratify the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Since it was set up in 2012, ICOMOS-UK’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee has worked tirelessly to get the UK Government to ratify the 2003 Convention.  ICOMOS-UK gives voice to all genres of intangible cultural heritage nationally. It also promotes their indivisible association with tangible objects, buildings and landscapes and sites.

The ICH Committee’s work in championing the promotion of intangible values leading to the Government’s announcement has been a long journey and has comprised seminal and exemplar conferences, projects and roundtable meetings. ICOMOS-UK’s round table meeting on ratification in December 2021 was key to identifying a range of models of ratification for the UK and included the “lift not list” model mentioned in DCMS’s consultation document. We have also established an ICH national forum. 

See also:

ICH Committee Events