RFP- RI Historic Preservation Conference Analysis/Recommendations

Proposals are due on December 1, 2021.

The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC) and
Preserve Rhode Island (PRI) seek a professional organizational consultant to produce an
analysis of and recommendations for the Rhode Island Historic Preservation Conference
(“the Conference”) in order to assess its relevance and effectiveness and to guide the
RIHPHC in how or if to offer a Conference program in the future.

The RIHPHC is the state agency for historical preservation and heritage programs. PRI is
the statewide preservation advocacy non-profit. The two organizations collaborate on
joint projects such as the Conference, which is organized by the RIHPHC, with PRI
serving as the fiscal agent.

The Conference originated in 1986 as a statewide gathering of local historic district
commissioners. Over the years, it has evolved into an annual event of more general
interest to historic preservationists and the wider public. The Conference has provided an
opportunity for Rhode Island preservationists to network, share ideas, present recent
projects, and discuss new challenges in the field. It has become one of RIHPHC’s
signature public programs.

The rapidly changing landscape of historic preservation programming is the backdrop for
this project. There are new formats (like “unconferences”) and new platforms (like virtual
conferences). An increasing number of organizations—local, national, and international--
are producing historic preservation programming for the general public. With the increase
of virtual programming amplified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, preservationists
have much more content available than they did just two years ago.
The Conference has evolved gradually, for instance adapting new technologies (such as
online registration) and new income sources (such as sponsorships). With much
deliberation and effort, RIHPHC responded to COVID-19 by cancelling the 2020
conference and presenting a virtual Conference in 2021.

Another context for this project derives from three new organizational plans for the
RIHPHC. In the past two years, the RIHPHC has produced a Strategic Plan, a State
Preservation Plan, and an element of the State Guide Plan. With “Outreach” identified as
a key goal of the agency, we have a unique opportunity to assess how the Conference can
help the agency realize its objectives.

Finally, many historic preservation organizations are taking a hard look at how the field
both reflects and perpetuates inequality in the larger culture. One of the goals in the
RIHPHC’s State Preservation Plan is “Prioritize equity and representation to ensure that
the historic resources we recognize, preserve, protect, and celebrate reflect Rhode
Island’s diverse heritage.” As a key public program of the RIHPHC, the Conference must
continue to help us meet this goal.

The full RFP is here.

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