Published on 13 October 2022
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Scoping Culture and Heritage Capital study launches with research funding call

New collaborative research sets out how to capture and measure the value of culture and heritage assets to make them more visible in the context of policy decision-making.

A report scoping how the value of arts, culture and heritage can be articulated and measured through the use of a capitals model publishes today on the government’s Culture and Heritage Capital (CHC) portal. It is accompanied by a funding call for new research informed by the project’s recommendations.

The Scoping Culture and Heritage Capital study was commissioned jointly in November 2021 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), to steer a research initiative to guide decision-making on policy and funding in the culture and heritage sectors and overcome gaps in the current evidence base. Looking beyond market value or present condition of a culture or heritage asset, a capitals model accounts for the stream of future benefits, including market and non-market, with recognition of the future embedded in the valuation process.

Scoping Culture and Heritage Capital was led by Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, Senior Research Fellow at UAL, in partnership with cultural sector partners and policymakers, and collaborating with a team of researchers spanning arts and humanities, heritage science and economics: Prof Diane Coyle, University of Cambridge; Dr Sadie Watson and Dr Emma Dwyer from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA); Prof Patrizia Riganti and Dr Yang Wang University of Glasgow, Dr Ricky Lawton, Simetrica-Jacobs and Dr Mafalda Dâmaso (UAL).

The report sets out key considerations in the development and implementation of a CHC model and recommendations for ongoing research, refinement of methods and capacity and capability building across disciplines and sectors. The recommendations inform the funding call issued by the AHRC and DCMS to support more work to establish the CHC agenda.

The project recognises the complexity and importance of valuing the arts, culture and heritage, contributing to building a collaborative foundation for making the value of arts, culture and heritage more visible across different sectors and disciplines. The long-term aim of the report and wider CHC programme is to make the value of arts, culture and heritage an integral part of the UK’s capital wealth accounts, essential to understanding prosperity and wellbeing, now and in the future.

Prof Diane Coyle, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge said: “The results of the study will provide a useful starting point for policymakers in understanding the value of funding a public good that can easily be overlooked at times of budget cutbacks. As in the Bennett Institute’s Wealth Economy work, we look at culture and heritage assets and use the accounting framework, first used for natural capital and currently being introduced around the world as a way of accounting for a wider portfolio of a nation’s assets, beyond just financial and produced. The important feature of incorporating capitals into the statistics that shape how economic success is understood and measured is that this embeds consideration for the future and sustainability.”

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council said: “The importance of arts, culture and heritage in enriching our lives and improving our wellbeing feels evident; but to develop and change policy which directs funding to help these sectors to thrive, we need to develop methods to assess their value and economic impact. This study provides a robust evidence base on which we can build a more resilient, sustainable and prosperous cultural sector in the future.” 

Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, Senior Research Fellow at UAL Social Design Institute said: “The starting point for this study was that there is no consistent approach to valuing cultural assets that is compatible with other methods used by government, inclusive of multiple perspectives and sensitive to the considerations of sustainability and intergenerational fairness. The CHC model provides a good way forward, provided it is developed through interdisciplinary collaboration involving arts and humanities, heritage science, economics and other relevant fields, as well as the cultural sector and policymakers. We welcome the funding call and commitment from the AHRC and DCMS to support this agenda.”

Read report: Scoping culture and heritage capital report [leads to webpage on]

Image: Lewis Bush – MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication, UAL.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s).

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