AHRC and DCMS would like to invite applications for interdisciplinary projects which will play a major role in developing and realising the DCMS Culture and Heritage Capital Programme.
DCMS is developing a formal approach to value culture and heritage assets called Culture and Heritage Capital (CHC). CHC will create publicly available statistics and guidance that allow for improved articulation of the economic, social and cultural value of the culture and heritage sectors in decision-making.
Valuation of benefits and costs plays an important role in appraisal and evaluation policies, projects and programmes. The estimates are used alongside other information, both quantitative and qualitative to create a robust evidence base for decision making.
The DCMS and AHRC-funded study, scoping study culture and heritage capital research, provided recommendations for taking forward research gaps identified in DCMS’s valuing culture and heritage capital: a framework towards informing decision making.
Following this study, we are now seeking to fund a portfolio of projects to develop the CHC programme.
The research opportunity has been separated into 7 distinct strands, each comprising a distinct research question.
Projects must address at least 1 of the 7 strands. However, the strands should not be seen as mutually exclusive projects, and we expect project teams to work cooperatively.
Proposals that address multiple strands are also welcome.
Applicants should make use of the AHRC and DCMS scoping study, valuing culture and heritage capital framework and material published by DCMS on the CHC portal to prepare applications.
There is no fixed budget limit for any individual project, but as an indicative guideline, we would not generally expect an application to exceed £450,000 full economic cost. However, projects can request a higher or lower amount provided those costs are fully justified in the application.
Applicants should note that value for money is 1 of the key assessment criteria. Projects that are proposing to address more than 1 strand would naturally need to request more significant costs.
Strand A: developing a taxonomy of cultural and heritage capital services (associated stocks and flows)
In the CHC framework, cultural and heritage assets can be thought of as the “stock”, while the services that create benefits to society are regarded as “flows”. Background pressures such as environmental damage or unsustainable use can negatively affect the services provided by an asset and the demand for those services. Effective management interventions, additional inputs and effective policies can have a positive effect.
As outlined in the AHRC and DCMS CHC scoping study, we are looking for a more precise definition of these services, stocks and flows, so we can better understand what we need to value and measure consistently across the sectors. Due to the scale and complexity of the different kinds of values and their interactions, a clear consensual way of describing diﬀerent types of values is needed to effectively address the issues and create a detailed capitals framework.
Establishing the CHC typology and taxonomy will facilitate the research of all other strands. AHRC and DCMS therefore, expect the strand A research team to work closely with all other strands.
As recommended by the AHRC and DCMS scoping study this research strand should look to define and create a taxonomy of services, stocks and flows by such interventions as:
- reviewing the classification of services, flows and stocks that are relevant to culture and heritage. This may include other capital approaches, systems approaches and impact frameworks. This would cover a broad range of literature from economic, environmental, health, educational and the arts and humanities disciplines. This review will cover tangible and intangible stocks and the causal links between services, flows and benefits, and enabling assets
- while reviewing the existing literature will inform the taxonomy from various disciplines and sources, empirical work will likely be undertaken to fill the gaps in the literature. This may involve detailed qualitative studies (for example interviews, focus groups or workshops with different stakeholder groups) to reveal the diﬀerences in how cultural value is understood and assessed from a diversity of perspectives. Due to the scale and complexity of the different kinds of values and the interactions among them, a clear consensual way of describing diﬀerent types of values within a capital framework is needed to address the issues effectively
Strand B: developing the link between methodologies that can measure why people value culture and heritage and economic techniques that can monetise value
The valuing culture and heritage capital framework set out the commonly used economic techniques to value (monetise) benefits.
These techniques have measured the non-market benefits and costs (flows) produced by culture and heritage services, which sit alongside traditional market-based methodologies such as measures of GVA and productivity. This includes:
- contingent valuation
- choice modelling
- hedonic pricing
- travel cost
- subjective wellbeing
- Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs)
DCMS’s ‘rapid evidence assessment: culture and heritage valuation studies’ reviewed the growing body of studies that have tried to value (monetise) the benefits of culture and heritage using these approaches.
These techniques are used in appraisal and evaluations where Social Cost Benefits Analysis (SCBA) is required to help guide decision-making. However, very few of these studies have attempted to understand and articulate what people value, for example:
Without this understanding, we cannot be sure whether these methods are valuing all the benefits and costs of an intervention or if it is double counting benefits and costs. This will be important if we ensure that the stocks and flows within the culture and heritage framework are fully valued, so policy interventions can better target and maximise impact.
As recommended by the AHRC and DCMS scoping study, this research strand should look to improve our understanding of the value captured in economic valuation methodologies by such interventions as:
- reviewing appropriate methodologies from social science, arts and humanities, environmental science, political science and management that can be combined with economic valuation methodologies
- based on this review, undertake primary research to test a number of these techniques and how they can be combined with economic valuation techniques, using a selection of assets, to understand how effectively cultural and social value is captured by techniques that attempt to monetise the cost and benefits of cultural and heritage assets
Establishing the CHC typology and taxonomy in strand A will facilitate the development of strand B. We, therefore, expect the research team for this strand to keep itself informed on the progress of strand A.
Strand C: defining and incorporating non-use values into social cost benefit analysis and cultural and heritage capital accounting
The valuing culture and heritage capital framework recommended the need to further develop the application of non-use value with SCBA. Non-use value is often defined as bequest, altruistic and existence values from those who do not directly interact with an asset.
Further research is needed to ascertain what the non-use value means in the context of culture and heritage assets and how these values should be used in practice with SCBA and capital accounting.
As recommended by the AHRC and DCMS scoping study this research strand should look to improve our understanding of non-use value and how it can be applied in practice by such interventions as:
- conceptualising and defining non-use value within the context of culture and heritage
- undertaking quantitative experimental survey design, cognitive testing, and qualitative focus group work, to better understand and define the elements that constitute non-use value for different types of cultural and heritage assets in a ‘bottom-up’ way, informed by individual-level data
- undertaking primary research, focused on 1 or 2 assets to test what constitutes non-use value, and to undertake a monetisation of non-use value to reduce uncertainty or errors in the application of non-use value within economic valuation
Strand D: combining heritage science and economic valuation to articulate better the impact of care and sustainable usage of heritage assets
The valuing culture and heritage capital framework set out the need to combine the techniques used by heritage scientists and economists to better articulate the impact of care and sustainable usage of heritage assets.
Given the uniqueness or rarity of many culture and heritage assets, the loss or degradation of an asset can be seen as an irreversible risk, because once the object is lost the value is irrecoverable or expensive to reverse.
This means it is paramount that interventions that cause or stop irreversible damage need to be fully assessed by heritage scientists, and where interventions need to undertake SCBA, we need techniques to monetise the impact to articulate the value of care and sustainable usage of heritage assets.
Heritage science can estimate the condition of physical assets, how this condition changes over time and the impact of mitigating the degradation and damage of assets (for example by using damage functions). Economic valuation methodologies provide the techniques to value the impact on public welfare both today and in the future from these interventions. The challenge and opportunity for a capital approach is how scientific approaches can be combined with economic approaches to inform decision making through the lens of SCBA and national accounting frameworks.
As recommended by the AHRC and DCMS scoping study this research strand should look to improve our understanding and application of heritage science techniques and economic valuation methodologies by clarifying the relationship between degradation, deterioration and damage and how this translates into economic valuation techniques by such interventions as:
- developing relevant methodology from heritage science, literature outlined in the AHRC and DCMS scoping study, for example, research to understand the dose-response functions of different material types in different conditions to build a catalogue of deterioration rates for an illustrative selection of material types
- primary research to clarify the relationship between damage functions and an appropriate economic valuation methodology. Current policy interventions could guide this selection of materials, for example, DCMS and ACE’s Public Bodies Infrastructure Fund (PBIF) and the Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND)
- research should also consider assets where the issue of ‘letting go’ and the practice of ‘adaptive reuse’ are most pronounced. This will inform our understanding of how physical changes in an asset’s status interact with societal norms and the valuation of assets expressed by economic valuation techniques
Strand E: overlaps between natural capital and culture and heritage capital
The valuing culture and heritage capital framework highlighted that both culture or heritage and natural assets can be valued distinctively from each other so that natural capital and culture and heritage capital avoid double counting across the capital accounts.
There are many examples where natural capital and culture and heritage capital come into close proximity and are difficult to separate; parks with monuments, historic houses with gardens and canals with industrial heritage to name a few.
Research is needed to attempt to disentangle the benefits and costs of natural capital and culture and heritage capital by such interventions as:
- pilot study to understand the interaction of cultural and natural capital services. This study would look at how to disentangle and define the different services and stocks and flows where natural and culture and heritage assets interact
- the pilot study could undertake empirical research to measure and monetise the stocks and flows of 1 or more assets where natural and cultural assets are in close proximity and where it has been difficult to disentangle their impact for SCBA and capital accounting
Strand F: triangulation of values using different valuation methods, research testing biases and ways to minimise them
The valuing culture and heritage capital framework set out the need to improve the economic valuation methodologies. The AHRC and DCMS scoping study recommended research is needed to reduce errors and biases in approaches, particularly embedding, sequencing effects, reliability over time, and actual versus hypothetical behaviour.
A further challenge is deciding which economic valuation techniques, such as contingent valuation, choice modelling, hedonic pricing, travel cost, wellbeing, QALYs, is appropriate for a specific asset or context.
As recommended by the AHRC and DCMS scoping study, this research strand should look to test validity, reliability and variation, of economic valuation techniques by testing different methods on the same asset (or assets) through such interventions as:
- empirical research by applying different economic valuation methods to the same asset to understand the reliability and validity and reasons for the divergence in their value. This will allow researchers to provide a framework on the most appropriate methods by asset type or intervention. The research could be conducted through a pilot study focusing on a select group of assets to make an assessment of value and stocks using market and non-market valuation techniques to test their validity and reliability
- empirical work would also look to test methods to reduce errors and biases in approaches, particularly embedding, sequencing effects, reliability over time, additionality, actual versus hypothetical behaviour
- research could also look at how to reduce the uncertainty and biases in benefits transfer. This could examine reducing transfer errors in both ex-ante through research design, and ex-post through adjustment and function transfer
Strand G: valuation of digital assets
Boundless Creativity a joint research project by UKRI’s AHRC, in partnership with DCMS set out how digital technologies are transforming the way the public consumes culture and the way organisations are changing their delivery models.
This was brought into sharp focus during the last few years as many cultural organisations expanded their digital offerings. However, there are very few studies that have looked at the value of digital content and assets in terms of monetising the value to the public. Therefore the CHC programme needs to also examine how digital assets fit within a capital’s approach.
This research strand should look to:
- review the existing literature on digital assets to understand how digital culture can be added to the cultural and heritage capital approach. This would need to take account of both tangible and intangible stocks and flows and examine connections between services, flows and benefits, and enabling assets. The research should also examine the differences between assets that are born digital (created only in digital form) and those that have been converted into digital assets
- research could look at 1 or 2 pilot projects, for example digital museums collections or digital performances, to develop an understanding of the value creation in terms of stocks and flows and how value may differ from physical engagement
- the study should also explore combinations of multidisciplinary techniques to develop a methodology to define how value is created with digital offers and the appropriate economic valuation technique to apply to produce estimates for SCBA and national accounting
Please note that the above information on each of the strands is designed to provide a useful context rather than to serve as an exhaustive prescription of expectations. You must apply for at least 1 of the strands, please clearly identify which strands your proposal addresses at the beginning of your case for support.
When shortlisting amongst proposals judged to be of similar overall quality, the panel, in consultation with AHRC and DCMS, will be looking to support a balanced portfolio across the strands, with the aim of funding a cohort of projects that collectively addresses all the strands.
Projects should aim to start between 24 July 2023 and 4 September 2023.
The funded projects will be required to work closely together to form a coherent programme. All projects will be required to submit a final report on their project to AHRC and DCMS setting out their research and the main findings. All projects will also be required to report regularly to a specially constituted Oversight Board which will oversee the direction of the programme overall.