Strand A; Developing a taxonomy for culture and heritage capital

Lead Research Organisation: Historic Bldgs & Mnts Commis for England
Department Name: Policy & Evidence


The main objective is to develop a taxonomy of culture and heritage capital (CHC) that articulates the multiple benefits and values generated by culture and heritage (C&H)in a way that enables us to give weight to C&H in wider economic appraisal and decision-making. It will enable decision-makers to "better understand what we need to value and measure consistently across the sectors" (AHRC DCMS call, 2022). The taxonomy will be grounded in robust theory and evidence from the arts and humanities, economics and natural sciences. An extensive qualitative research programme will also locate it in the lived experiences and practices of C&H by checking, challenging, refining and socialising the findings.

The Culture and Heritage Consortium is led by an economist and includes academics, policy practitioners and consultants from the arts and humanities, natural sciences and social sciences including economics. A panel of experts in the arts, natural capital, policy, heritage science and economics will provide support and challenge, whilst network organisations will help the research team collaborate with the arts, culture and heritage sectors. Throughout the project, coordination and communications experts will collate and share accessible content for different audiences.

The research will build a stock, services, benefits and values framework for C&H based on 6 work packages (WP). WP1 will draw from existing taxonomies in other sectors/industries, producing a best practice guide and a framework(s) for the CHC taxonomy. WP2 will review existing classification systems and taxonomies of stocks, services and values currently used by the C&H sectors to develop a draft taxonomy. WP3 will test that emerging taxonomy framework against literature and develop it further. WP4 uses deliberative and participatory research methods to inform, check and challenge the findings. WP5 will synthesise the outputs of the research, WP 6 covers project management.

Strand A of the AHRC/DCMS research call is a pivotal framework for all research Strands in this call. We propose a staged and iterative approach that will deliver provisional outputs at an early stage which will be thoroughly tested and refined as the research matures over 30 months. A programme of communications with all strands is built into this proposal with the assumption that there will be a need for collaboration and communication with Strand B of this call.

Our project is innovative and experimental and it is an international first. It addresses the disconnection between economics and C&H by synthesising evidence from economics, arts and humanities, natural sciences and broader social sciences. It will extend scholarly knowledge and make new connections across disciplines. The proposed taxonomy will deliver cutting-edge research that is grounded in academic rigour and tested, challenged and co-designed with stakeholders to ensure the research can be operationalised and used to support better decisions and outcomes for C&H. It will provide a proof of concept that will widen the outputs and address interconnectivity challenges beyond the scope of this study.

A wide range of impacts are expected: IM1 Improved understanding and access to evidence about how the benefits from C&H are realised to inform strategic cases in the HM Treasury 5 Cases Model for example. IM2 Provides a systematic approach for CHC valuation to ensure high quality more robust evidence that reflects values known in C&H literature. IM3 Engages the sector in an economic debate to unpack commonalities and de-mystify aspects of economics to encourage greater engagement and ownership on an economic platform. IM4 The taxonomy will support better design of valuation studies by improving the knowledge about how the benefits from C&H emerge. IM5 The CHC taxonomy will support the development of more holistic evaluation and monitoring frameworks for C&H.


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