Here are a few factors that may help to explain why the United Kingdom has produced so many studies on the impacts of cultural heritage.

  • There is a long standing tradition in the UK where non-government bodies are strongly implicated in advocacy and reform and act as a counterweight to the Government and state. The independent heritage movement was responsible for bringing the first effective Parliamentary Act  in 1913, the Ancient Monuments Act and has been active politically ever since. One can argue that in countries where heritage is more of a state responsibility, the need for evidence is not so strong. In the UK, advocates have also found that evidence can carry more weight when undertaken by a third party with academic credentials.
  • The ‘New Labour’ government elected in 1997 came in with an emphasis on evidence-based policy making which has continued ever since. In order for heritage interests to have an impact on policies when so many other interests are competing for attention, they have to have the numbers to back up their asks or justify expenditure.
  • As well as the independent heritage sector, dedicated research staff and budget within Government, arms-length bodies (bodies that operate with some degree of independence from Government) and funding bodies also collect data on many aspects of English heritage. In particular the national funding agency, the Arts & Humanities Research Council, invests in research which supports policy makers across a wide range of subject disciplines and government activities. Demonstrating impact is increasingly necessary to attract project funding from public and private sources.
  • These developments have led to the collection of good quality secondary data to use for heritage outcomes.