News

Written on 19 Nov 2021

New project to help policymakers account for the value of culture and heritage in decision-making

Culture and heritage assets can provide enjoyment to many people and provide a sense of identity, as well as an appreciation for diversity and difference. Yet only a fraction of this value is currently being captured and measured in a way that could influence government policy. New research will help to fill gaps in evidence and suggest future avenues of inquiry.

The Bennett Institute is participating in new research looking at how to measure the value to the public of the UK’s culture and heritage, to help government provide the tools to the sector to evidence decision-making and funding bids where cost benefit analysis and value for money enquiry is needed.

Bennett Professor of Public Policy Diane Coyle will work on the scoping study with a cross-disciplinary team of economists and heritage science and archaeology researchers to be led by Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, UAL Social Design Institute, and other researchers including Dr Sadie Watson and Dr Emma Dwyer from MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology), Prof Patrizia Riganti, University of Glasgow, and Ricky Lawton, the consultancy Symetrica-Jacobs.

The team has been awarded the AHRC and DCMS Scoping Culture and Heritage Capital research grant, requiring them to identify gaps in existing evidence and scope future areas of inquiry to further develop DCMS’s Culture and Heritage Capital (CHC) framework, which sets the foundations for capturing the value of culture and heritage to individuals and society. The team will build on recent research commissioned by DCMS, Historic England and Arts Council England to inform the development of the CHC framework reflecting the approach set out by the HM Treasury Green Book.

Professor Diane Coyle says:

“Currently it’s hard to measure the value of culture and heritage on public wellbeing, community, employment, education and the general economy. Work already published in a Bennett Institute Townscapes report shows that parks, libraries and high streets can give people a place to exercise, meet and learn which are important for improving community resilience and a sense of local identity. Many cultural heritage sites are free for viewing or using so it’s difficult to place a value on them. 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.”

Market-based measures of value such as GDP are currently used to support government decision-making, but fail to satisfactorily calculate the contribution of the culture and heritage assets to UK society.

The research team will work with an international Advisory Group comprising world-leading experts across the disciplines and sectors most pertinent to the scoping study including cultural and environmental economics. Supporting partners include BBC, National Trust, Derby Museums, Creative Scotland, Creative England and the Creative Industries Federation, British Library, Crafts Council, BFI, Nesta’s Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) and International Scientific Committee on the Economics of Conservation (ISCEC).

The study will produce a report published on DCMS’s Culture and Heritage Capital portal (gov.uk) outlining the work and methodology and presenting an operational agenda to support the implementation of the CHC framework, including a priority list of research areas to be further explored.


Image: Imaginary characters costumes, Manga theme Show at British Museum Friday Lates ©  Alastair Fyfe, courtesy of UAL