Meet our committees: Jenny Cousins
Why did you want to join an HLF committee?
I wanted to know more about how it worked. I feel strongly that people working in the sector should do these things because it's important that people who are practising remain part of the conversation about funding.
“I got to hold a real Oscar, they're a lot heavier than you think they're going to be.”
It's also good to broaden your horizons.
What do you like about it?
The sheer variety of projects, especially being in London – from small projects dealing with wildlife conservation or community heritage, to the other end of the scale – national institutions building large galleries and public parks which thousands of people will use.
Also, the opportunity to debate with other committee members: you learn a lot, and start to see things differently.
What have you learned from the role so far and how has it benefitted you?
I have a better understanding of how the funding process works, not just at HLF, but across the sector. And also in terms of development, I've had to practise my public speaking at project launch events representing HLF. Having an opportunity to do that has been really great.
“It's important that people who are practising remain part of the conversation about funding.”
I finished working at Imperial War Museums in April, and am just starting as the director of the Museum of East Anglian Life: I think it helps to have something like this on your CV.
What has most surprised or challenged you?
I was pleasantly surprised by the robustness of the process. It's comforting to see the scrutiny, fairness and enthusiasm, especially of grants officers. There is a lot of personal investment by the staff in the process and it shows.
What would you say to anyone who is thinking about joining an HLF committee?
What’s the worst that can happen?! The induction process is great – very supportive. You don’t have to be an expert in all areas and no one expects you to be.
What is your favourite HLF-supported project?
I have an MA in film history, and I was really impressed by the restoration of the Regent Street Cinema.
One exciting moment was a presentation at the V&A about acquiring the Peter Brook archive. I got to hold a real Oscar, they're a lot heavier than you think they're going to be!