Handbook of Cultural and Heritage Management

2. Chapter 1 - BASIC PERCEPTS OF CULTURAL AND HERITAGE MANAGEMENT

2.3. Scope and aims

Why is the efficient management of cultural projects and cultural heritage important?

Cultural projects are usually challenging endeavours: they require a great deal of planning, local support and inspiration whereas they cannot guarantee generation of income. There are many cases of “successful” projects which were however financially difficult to support, as well as cases of altogether unsuccessful events and projects which failed because of maladjustment to the current reality. 

Cultural heritage, on the other hand, is a “non renewable” and “fragile” resource, a source of local or/and national pride and an asset whose importance can at time exceed national borders and can contribute to local and regional development. Its safeguarding for future generations is a matter of public concern.  In the 21st century limitation of financial resources, increase of recognised and protected heritage assets and the pressure for democratization of culture and the development of a sense of ownership are factors which led to the need of using more effective tools in order to achieve more with less.

Among the aims of Cultural Heritage Management is the effective protection of cultural heritage, its documentation, study, maintenance (restoration, conservation, reconstruction etc), but also its presentation to the public for whose sake it is safeguarded by specialists and academics. Furthermore, nowadays the necessity of financial viability of heritage assets and cultural projects in general imposes aspects such as sustainability and feasibility, which are incorporated in the general notion of “management”.

The following points will help us understand the importance of the notion of “management” in cultural projects and heritage protection and enhancement:

●        Efficiency: is a key word when it comes to cultural and heritage management. Cultural heritage management helps practitioners in taking informed decisions, plan adequately, make the most of all resources and set up sustainable projects. Tools such as marketing plans, business plans, strategic plans, swot analysis (see below), project management software (see below) allow us to do our work more efficiently.

At the heart of efficient heritage management lie legal frameworks. Regional, national and international laws provide the framework of protection and guide those involved in the management of and promotion of cultural heritage in achieving their goals. Every heritage manager or person involved in heritage management projects should first examine existing legislations.

●        Assessment:  An important parameter in the successful design and implementation of cultural projects is their constant evaluation. Evaluation of projects should take place at all phases from their inception to their completion. Heritage managers also engage in the assessment of the values of cultural heritage, and activities of cultural mapping in an effort to get acquainted with the assets of an area and the importance of cultural heritage, before proceeding with their management and promotion.

●        Sustainability: In recent years the concept of sustainability dominates discussion in the cultural and heritage sectors and guides decisions taken by respective managers. Whether we talk about the sustainability of cultural heritage or the role of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, it is all about thinking about the future.

        Public Engagement: Every cultural and heritage management project in order to be considered successful has to have a positive impact on local communities and to be well received by the public.  Raising awareness, reaching out for the public, engaging local communities in planning and decision making, consulting with the public should be activities embedded in all cultural and heritage projects.


 

One has to keep in mind that when management ideas are applied in the cultural and heritage sector, profit is not the end, but a means to achieve cultural sustainability. Therefore, many of the management/marketing tools presented in this textbook are tailored to the needs of non  profit cultural organisations whose income is not fixed and often their funding comes from the state or from donations.