Wednesday, 13 October 2010

UK: New National Reports, "Heritage Really Counts",

In the UK, this CBA press release is of interest:
This week Historic Scotland published Scotland's Historic Environment Audit 2010> and English Heritage launched Heritage Counts 2010 on behalf of the heritage sector in England. For Wales, an equivalent report was launched by Cadw in September, Valuing the Welsh Historic Environment . All three reports highlight the important contribution that investment in the historic environment makes to the economy. 'Investing in heritage doesn't just make us feel better, it makes sound economic sense'.

In Scotland, it is estimated that the historic environment contributes over £2.3 billion (2.6%) to its national gross value added and is a major employer, supporting over 60,000 full time jobs (2.5% of Scotland's employment). In Wales, it is reported that the historic environment's direct contribution to the nation's income is about £1.8 billion, mainly through tourism, and it helps support the equivalent of more than 30,000 full-time jobs.

For England, Heritage Counts illustrates the multiplier effect of investment in heritage. Every £1 invested in a heritage attraction generates £1.70 in additional economic activity; every £1 invested in historic environment regeneration creates £1.60. As a key driver of tourism, heritage also contributes to a major area of employment providing jobs directly and indirectly for c2.6 million people.

Across England and Scotland, there are also significant increases in visits to heritage sites and in membership of heritage organisations. Volunteering continues to flourish. The CBA's research into the voluntary sector in archaeology features in Heritage Counts 2010, showing there are over 2000 such groups and societies active in the UK. In England, there are an estimated 485,500 adults volunteering in the wider heritage and in Scotland over 18,500, undertaking a wide variety of tasks from participating in archaeological projects and conservation area advisory panels, to running civic societies and volunteering at heritage attractions.[...]

Obviously these figures illustrate the opposite too, if sites are looted into oblivion to satisfy an increasingly voracious no-questions-asked market (generating jobs numbered in their - low - hundreds rather than tens of thousands or millions), then the power of these sites to generate income on a local and national scale is correspondingly sharply reduced.

I also wonder how these figures are calculated (I can't avoid the impression that the results were engineered to persuade politicians that money should continue to be spent on culture in these cash-strapped times and we can never have too much culture). I wonder in particular whether spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to treasure hunters so another museum can exhibit yet one more shiny thing is really generating revenue. Will Manuel, the burger flipper from Texas really be getting on a train to Birmingham in his two-week whistlestop trip to England just because the Staffordshire treasure is there?

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