DCMS Announces Business Model for Deciding Cultural Funding | New


After years of preparation, DCMS has created economic guidelines for valuing culture that it believes will guide future funding decisions.

Research based on the Treasury Cost and Benefit Analysis Model aims to help evaluate policies, programs and projects, as well as to inform future legislation and regulations for the sector, conservation decisions and investment in cultural assets and priority interventions.

The monetary value of particular cultural and heritage activities was also calculated and taken into account in several surprising reports published on Thursday.

ArtsProfessional will analyze and share the findings of the reports over the coming weeks. Send an email to [email protected] to share your perspective.

Studies on public willingness to pay for culture and heritage assess the value of a visit to a regional gallery at £ 5, a month of access to the UK film archives at £ 3 and the historic character of a street local main at £ 7.80.

While the flagship report, Promoting culture and the heritage capital: a framework to inform decision-making, notes that economic value should not be the only consideration, he says that an ongoing research program “will provide approved methods for use across government and the private sector, which will help officials develop transparent, objective, consistent and evidence-based advice for decision-making “.


Over the next few years, funders and recipients in the cultural sector will be able to use them to guide their investment decisions, according to DCMS.

This could signal a dramatic shift in the way funders determine the value of cultural organizations and how organizations in turn represent theirs: DCMS, Historic England, the British Film Institute (BFI) and the Arts Council England ( ACE) promote the framework as a way to make a stronger case for investing.

ACE chief executive Darren Henley said the funder “will work with our cultural organizations to use these tools as they continue to play their role in helping the country recover from the pandemic.”

The timing of the reports is particularly surprising given the new optimism in the sector that the government more easily recognizes and defends the social and welfare benefits of culture after the closures.

Cultural Recovery Commissioner Neil Mendoza said they “will make an important contribution to how we measure the value of culture and heritage”.

“We need to make sustainable and evidence-based decisions so that we can preserve cultural places and sites while allowing people to enjoy them,” Mendoza added.

Natural capital

The Culture and Capital Heritage program emulates “natural capital”, the framework used to calculate the value of drinking water and green spaces.

This approach will be important for understanding how the benefits derived from a cultural asset or activity affect the entire cultural ecosystem, suggests the key report.

“Currently, there is no agreed approach to measure this contribution, which means that the value of cultural and heritage capital is often underestimated.”

DCMS will initially focus on enhancing assets such as collections, places and artistic content, with a view to broadening the scope of its research at a later stage.

Those more difficult to estimate in monetary terms – intellectual property, soft power, traditions, customs and folklore – will not be included at this time.

The report states that the value of cultural property can be estimated by “predicting” its benefits throughout its lifespan.

The benefits of an asset depend on its ability to provide goods and services, which can be influenced by its condition, history or design, among other factors.

“Defining these characteristics is more difficult for culture and heritage than for other forms of capital, as services are often derived from how a person interprets or feels an asset,” the report says.

The quality of maintenance of heritage assets is expected to be a “key characteristic” in assessing their value.

A long time to come

The merits and pitfalls of assessing the value of culture through an economic lens have long been debated.

The idea that an economic rationale could strengthen the case for funding the arts has grown in popularity over the past decade, with many professional organizations now producing annual reports that tout their contributions to the economy.

Creative industries economist Hasan Bakshi and colleagues called for better economic tools to measure the value of the arts in their 2010 report, Measuring Intrinsic Value – How To Stop Worrying And Love The Economy. In the same year, the Treasury asked DCMS to prove that it represented good value for money in the same way as other departments.

In 2013, then Culture Secretary Maria Miller spoke of understanding the economic potential of the arts as key to advocating for funding. Organizations were urged to provide the government with more and better data to prove their worth.

The tools for doing this have evolved since then through partnerships between academics and the arts. Several institutes now exist for this purpose, including the Center for Cultural Value at the University of Leeds.

But precise ways to measure the full contribution of the sector remain difficult to find. Economic impact is not the same as economic value: as the DCMS report notes, “GDP is an incomplete measure of public welfare and value”.

The DCMS report says it will not provide the industry with assessment tools until there is “robust” evidence to support their use.

What does the rest matter?

The report states that “we must look beyond market prices” as free entry to some sites and the ability to enjoy culture without consuming it complicates efforts to capture the value of culture.

So what else can organizations refer to to demonstrate their value to funders?

DCMS says evidence shows that people derive significant benefit from the mere existence of cultural and heritage sites.

“Individuals can gain value by visiting a property such as a monument, admiring it from afar, reading it on the Internet, or simply knowing that they have the opportunity to visit it,” the report said.

The public appreciates the contributions of these assets to local identity, or knowing that continued access is available for family, friends and future generations.

Another non-monetary value can be calculated by studying the public’s willingness to pay or travel to access a service, “subjective well-being”, which takes into account the relationship between well-being and income, and quality-adjusted life years (QALY), a common measure for health interventions.

The Culture and Heritage Capital Program aims to provide culture-specific advice to the Treasury and a database on the values ​​of various cultural assets

“This will allow organizations to use similar asset valuations to value their own assets,” the report says.

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