Research captures and enhances value of UK culture and heritage

Looking down an ornate staircase

AHRC and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will support a new study to measure the value of UK culture and heritage.

The study will be conducted by the University of the Arts London (UAL).

It will help the 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.

The study will produce a report published on DCMS’s Culture and Heritage Capital (CHC) portal.

The report will outline the work and methodology and present an operational agenda, including a priority list of research areas to be further explored.

Supporting vital sectors

Market-based measures of value such as gross domestic product (GDP) are currently used to support government decision making.

These often fail though to satisfactorily calculate the contribution of the culture and heritage assets to UK society.

This much needed scoping study will:

  • help to capture the enormous value that these sectors provide
  • ensure that investment and support is directed in a way that best enables them to recover and thrive post-pandemic.

Consulting leading experts

The study brings together a cross-disciplinary team of:

  • economists
  • heritage science and archaeology researchers.

The study will be led by a humanities and design scholar Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, Senior Research Fellow at the UAL Social Design Institute.

The research team will work with an international advisory group comprising world-leading experts across the disciplines and sectors most pertinent to the study.

Supporting partners include:

  • BBC
  • National Trust
  • Creative England and Creative Scotland
  • The British Library
  • British Film Institute
  • International Scientific Committee on the Economics of Conservation.

The team will build on recent research commissioned by DCMS, Historic England and Arts Council England to inform the development of the CHC framework.

This reflects the approach set out by the HM Treasury Green Book.

Enormous value of our cultural institutions

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair, AHRC said:

We are living through a pivotal moment for our cultural and heritage industries.

The past two years have demonstrated the enormous value of our cultural institutions by giving us a chilling glimpse of a world without theatres, museums, and historic buildings.

This study will help us to capture and measure this value in a way that will help us to direct investment and shape policy to ensure stronger and more resilient cultural and heritage assets across the UK.

Key questions

Lord Mendoza, Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal, DCMS said:

The close and firm collaboration between AHRC and DCMS will continue to help push forward our important CHC programme.

I look forward to the work of this cross-disciplinary team.

They will consider the key questions to enable us to value the wide-ranging, important contributions of culture and heritage assets.

Current and future generations

Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, Principal Investigator and Senior Researcher, UAL Social Design Institute said:

Walking past a historic building, going to a theatre, engaging with an online collection or an archive, are activities which bring enjoyment to many people, individually and collectively.

Not just that, culture and heritage assets provide a sense of identity, continuity and attachment, as well as an appreciation for diversity and difference, for current and future generations.

Yet only a fraction of this value is currently being captured and measured.

It is great that DCMS and AHRC are supporting this area of research that will help to fill gaps in evidence and open up future avenues of inquiry.

Top image:  Credit: UKRI

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