Workshop on assessing, measuring and prioritizing heritage value in Oslo this October
On the 20th of May of this year, the Council of the European Union adopted the ‘Conclusions on cultural heritage as a strategic resource for a sustainable Europe’, which outlined their position towards cultural heritage as a social, economic and environmental benefit and their intent towards ensuring its recognition as a contributor to sustainable development.
The acknowledgement at policy level that cultural heritage has a role to lay in public life, intercultural dialogue and life-long education, as well as regeneration and tourism, is welcome. It moves the notion of heritage, and its legislation, further away from a static, crumbling obstacle to development towards something with which we interact and benefit from in numerous, varied ways.
Acknowledging the Lisbon Treaty’s mandate to protect heritage, it goes on to suggest the advantages of doing so, as “these resources are of great value to society from a cultural, environmental, social and economic point of view and thus their sustainable management constitutes a strategic choice for the 21st century”.
The notion of values is explicit and subtly pervasive in the document, which sets out to underline the value of heritage as a long-term, public benefit, its ability to ‘add value’ to other sectors beyond cultural spheres through wide collaboration and its role in diverse, dynamic societies.
Whether value is seen as intrinsic or extrinsic, and whether other kinds of values deserve a mention, such as the ways in which heritage is regarded as well as the extent of its benefit, is debateable. However, it demonstrates the political will to consider the future of heritage as part of a dynamic future and the importance of considering heritage value. Consequently, heritage value and how it is represented at policy level, is a becoming increasingly topical. The document actually calls on member states and the Commission to improve the collection and analysis of qualitative evidence and quantitative data on heritage, and invites the Commission to both pursue the analysis of economic and social impact as well as foster sustainable use and management of heritage.
In the H@V project, we are in the process of organising a workshop in Oslo this October that will bring together experts from across Europe – representing academia, policy and practice – to consider the ways in which heritage value is assessed, measured and prioritised. This will consider measuring benefit as well as how values are expressed and the different kinds of assessment.
Heritage values are known to be complex, changeable, contested and inter-connected, but finding ways to represent this is of growing importance. In order to decide what to protect, preserve or prioritize, to choose what to keep, how to interpret and what to communicate, we must assess heritage values.
This is a debate that has many elements, but we hope to foster some really interesting discussion that will contribute to these topical issues. During our preparations, we hope to build on the findings of the H@V workshop in Eindhoven next week on understanding heritage values, and also contribute towards our final workshop in Barcelona on public participation.
The team in Olso, Dr. Joel Taylor, Dr. Grete Swensen and Dr. Torgrim Sneve Guttormsen with the help of the Norwegian State Antiquary, Riksantikvaren, are developing opportunities to consider key issues, case studies and current practice in order to engage participants in this important topic. We are looking forward to welcoming them and project partners to Norway (before it gets too cold) and hearing the insights of this exciting, interdisciplinary, international group of heritage professionals.