Understanding the economic impact of cultural heritage in European regions
The European Commission presented the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage. Erminia Sciacchitano (DG EAC) emphasised that the framework calls, among other things, for evidence-based decision-making in the cultural heritage field and enumerates a number of projects that will be carried out in order to address the issue of measuring the impact of culture and cultural heritage on the economy, society and local development. The framework also specifically mentions ESPON’s HERITAGE project on measuring the impact of material cultural heritage in selected stakeholder countries as a key study among other international efforts.
Zintis Hermansons (ESPON EGTC) provided some general insight on what ESPON is, introduced the ESPON HERITAGE project, its aims, setup and territorial coverage, and how this project links to the upcoming ESPON applied research project on the impact of cultural heritage on societal wellbeing (to be kicked off in March 2020). Christine Vanhoutte (Flanders Heritage Agency) and Christin Krohn (Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage) gave insights on the ESPON HERITAGE project’s methodology, outcomes and conclusions.
The ESPON HERITAGE project was delivered by the VVA Brussels in cooperation with a group of stakeholders. The aim of the project was to quantify the economic impact of material cultural heritage related to: archaeology, architecture, museums, libraries and archives, tourism, construction, real estate, ICT and insurance; the study covered 11 countries/regions in Europe. It was mentioned that in terms of GVA the material cultural heritage contributes 1.6% to the total business economy and 3.4% to the total services economy (NACE codes H-N and S95) in the 11 countries that were researched. It is hard to judge whether that is a lot, but this provides a basis for continuing the research as these are the first pan-European figures. In addition, it was also pointed out that in terms of sectors, tourism and construction are the biggest contributors to economic impact of material cultural heritage.
Christin Krohn (Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage) presented Norwegian experience and looked at various previous studies covering hedonic pricing models, big data to conduct value streams and testing to see what the missing would be if we were to build a satellite account. Christin pointed out that findings from the ESPON HERITAGE project are consistent with the research done in Norway.
Christine Vanhoutte (Flanders Heritage Agency) presented a conceptual framework of the Heritage Satellite Account Flanders 2018. Christine explained that this is a framework for the analysis of the direct economic impact of cultural heritage (no indirect/induced impact, no ROI) and separate from the Culture Satellite Account because natural heritage/cultural activity/heritage-related activities hardly occur in National Accounts. In terms of policy use it can be a strategic instrument that can help answer "Who is doing what?", "Who is paying?", "Who is gaining?", and "Who is working?"
Take away message
The ESPON HERITAGE study on the socio-economic value of material cultural heritage is the first study to be based on official statistics and not case studies. As such, it is a major innovation in creating tools for knowledge-based regional development policies on (material) cultural heritage.
Christine Vanhoutte, Flanders Heritage Agency: "The heritage sector would greatly benefit from a European Heritage Satellite Account, not only to collect and present comparable economic indicators, but also to have a strategic instrument to make better policy decisions."
Erminia Sciacchitano, DG EAC: "Through its statistical office, Eurostat, the European Commission will also keep improving the methodology and tools to collect data for cultural statistics."
Zintis Hermansons, ESPON EGTC: "The ESPON HERITAGE project provided an excellent platform for investigating the economics of material cultural heritage at a European level. The upcoming ESPON project on the impact of cultural heritage on well-being provides an opportunity to take the research further."
Christin Krohn, Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage: "We have reason to believe that the results of the ESPON HERITAGE project are representative for the rest of the European countries, but we need more research to confirm this."