Future Trends: Maximising & Measuring The Value Of Heritage

Maximising and Measuring the Value of Heritage

Future Trends Series

The Future Trends series explores different aspects of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 (UK CoC 2021). It aims to provide accessible, research-led accounts of issues related and relevant to the development of the UK City of Culture programme.

The paper Maximising and Measuring the Value of Heritage was released in December 2022.

Summary

Heritage (tangible, natural, and cultural) and Place have a mutually-symbiotic relationship, and much intangible heritage has a strong place-based association and origin.

Both heritage and place are multi-layered and change over time, physically and through people’s perceptions and values. All heritage is not, however, treated equally, and engagement and participation in heritage activity is uneven across social groups.

Maximising and Measuring the Value of Heritage (page 3)

UK Cities of Culture provide a valuable opportunity to drive place-shaping efforts and improve impacts from local heritage engagement through the involvement of host communities and the development of participatory co-produced research that employs socially-engaged practices and spatial and visualisation approaches.

The paper considers the key issues arising in relation to heritage, asking:

  • whose heritage is it anyway?
  • what is heritage?
  • how do you measure the value of heritage?

It then looks further at heritage and:

  • place-shaping
  • place-making
  • place-branding.

A case study entitled A place in history: Historic Coventry Trust and its development of Coventry’s heritage details the Historic Coventry Trust’s nationally recognised heritage development model of practice.

Examples are of Drapers’ Hall and London Road Cemetery, as places that have had specific impacts on their immediate environments, following two years of planning to choose the best possible sustainable uses for each building.

Conclusions

The paper argues that greater focus is needed on hidden and everyday heritage, and also on the experience and interpretation of designated heritage assets in order to better reflect and represent contemporary society.

There is an opportunity for local councils (who hold much spatial data), local communities (who have local knowledge), and universities (many university art and design school staff also work in practice) to enter into partnerships to improve the conduct of event impact and evaluation studies.

Acknowledgements

This Future Trends paper was written by Dr Graeme Evans – University of Arts London and Dr Geoff WillcocksHistoric Coventry Trust

These papers are published as part of the UK Cities of Culture project and commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.