On 16 October in the framework of the 4th CHCFE Steering Committee meeting, project partners the International Cultural Centre (ICC) from Poland and the Raymond Lemaire International Center for Conservation (RLICC) in Belgium presented their progress on mapping and analysing the multiple benefits of Europe’s cultural heritage and to discuss the project’s draft report.

Among the main findings so-far by the two teams is an indication of an important geographical imbalance in the studies and research collected. The country that has produced the most extensive research in the field of cultural heritage impact is the United Kingdom. Due to historical reasons there is also a clear difference in the interest and number of studies undertaken between Western and Central Europe with more research found in the West of Europe.

Apart from the UK, mapping of existing research in Europe (even in one of the most obvious fields of heritage impact which is the economy) proves to be a bit disappointing as a relatively large number of reports, studies and documents take heritage’s influence on the economy, society, culture and environment for granted adorning texts with superficial statements of a dogmatic character and intuitive remarks. In the field of impact on economics the most frequently researched subjects are the impact on the labour market and tourism, followed by heritage and the real estate market. However, judging by the bibliographies of the articles and reports there are only a handful of experts in Europe who deal with the economic impact and are quoted in most of these texts. The findings also reveal a significant lack of research done on cultural heritage’s impact on the development of cultural resources and historical value that have only merely been signaled in the literature; while the impact on identity, symbolic value, attractiveness and image, as well as education have been covered much more extensively.

The analysis of European research indicates that many studies tend to not only take the idea of heritage’s multiple benefits for granted, but often use this assumption as the starting point of the research instead of inquiring as a first step whether heritage has any impact and as a second, whether this impact is beneficial or detrimental. In further research, the overall aim should be to obtain a less biased approach and acquire a balanced proportion between attentions attributed to each of the four domains (economic, society, culture and environment) towards sustainable development. In the future, additional attention needs to be focused on a hybrid, collaborative research, combining quantitative and qualitative (participatory as well as non-participatory) methods, to bridge some of the existing gaps in the research.

The final report and its recommendations will be publicly presented on 12 June 2015 in Oslo on the occasion of the Europa Nostra Annual Congress 2015.

Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe PowerPoint Slides 1
Presented on 16 October 2014 in Krakow by the International Cultural Centre

Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe PowerPoint Slides 2
Presented on 16 October 2014 in Krakow by the Raymond Lemaire International Center for Conservation