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Culture and value

The value which any individual places on a cultural asset is unique to them, and can be influenced by a range of factors including personal preferences (Arts Council England, 2011), familial background (Miles and Sullivan, 2012), income (Scottish Government, 2018a), the geographical access nature of the locality where an asset is situated (Gilmore, 2013) and health (Historic England, 2017b). These further influence the potential level of participation with that asset or activity, and the perceived level of measurable engagement which an individual has with it (Gilmore, 2013, Scottish Government, 2018b).


English Heritage definitions of value point to four different variables, namely aesthetic, communal, evidential and historical (English Heritage, 2008, p.72). These variables are built environment-centric due to the nature within which they are discussed, however they equally apply across cultural issues and can offer a way in which to explore intangible heritage, especially when investigated within the context of creative research methods.


A picture as to the extent to which culture is valued may be determined in part by the level of funding which it attracts, high-culture traditionally attracts the greatest level of funding (Kawashima, 2010, p.339, Aszlo, 2012, Kloosterman, 2013, Miles, 2016). Vernacular culture deserves greater recognition (Edensor and Millington, 2012), with an opportunity to recognise more everyday forms of cultural participation (Trell and Hoven, 2010, Gilmore, 2017).


The implied value of a heritage asset may be assessed by its designation, for example a Category A listed building may be deemed to be of international importance. Using BS7913 principles, the degree of change which is made to a designated heritage asset can be plotted against the impact which it has, using a scale of value from very high to negligible (The British Standards Institution, 2013, p.16), which implies that change to an asset with low value may not have much of an impact, whereas the same small changes to an asset which is of international importance can have deeper impacts. This approach aligns with the adoption of an authorised heritage discourse (AHD) (Smith, 2011) as small changes to an asset of local importance may have a fundamental affect on a local population, which is why understanding the value of the asset to the area is important, and multi-modal methods can help in understanding these potential effects, taking into account social, environmental, cultural and

economic issues which may be enacted by a change (O’Brien and Lockley, 2015, Scottish Government, 2018a, p.9).