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UK government launches research into value of culture, heritage

The UK government has launched an “ambitious” new programme of research aimed at helping the sector make a stronger case for public and private investment in culture and heritage assets.

The report ‘Valuing Culture and Heritage Capital: A Framework Towards Informing Decision Making’ published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) sets out how it will support the evidence base behind investments and how to better demonstrate their value to society. It said that while culture and heritage has many benefits, currently there is no agreed approach to measuring this contribution which means that the value of culture and heritage capital is often understated.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “There is no doubt about the vast contribution culture and heritage make in all our lives: whether enjoying public artwork at a local gallery, visiting the library or enjoying the grounds of a historic house.

“I am pleased that this new research will help us to better quantify the value and benefit that these important local institutions bring and will help us to protect them for future generations.”

Research by Arts Council England (ACE) shows that people value each visit to a regional gallery at around £5, while Historic England has shown that households on average value the historic character of their local high street at around £7.80 per year.

According to DCMS, the evidence will help organisations to support the case for funding to invest in projects such as expanding an art collection, developing a music festival or continuing the maintenance of a historic train line. However, the tools that will be developed can be used by anyone who wants to demonstrate the value of their cultural and heritage investment.

Darren Henley, chief executive of ACE said: “I’m lucky enough to see for myself every day how public investment in culture changes people’s lives for the better. It’s important that we gather the data to show how, why and where this happens.

“Today’s new publications will help museums, libraries and performance venues demonstrate their impact in villages, towns and cities across the country. We’ll be working with our cultural organisations to use these tools as they continue to play their part in helping the nation recover from the pandemic.”

Image: Mikehume / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Edited for size