Valuing Cultural Heritage

Valuing Cultural Heritage

Applying Environmental Valuation Techniques to Historic Buildings, Monuments and Artifacts

Edited by Ståle Navrud and Richard C. Ready

What value do we place on our cultural heritage, and to what extent should we preserve historic and culturally important sites and artefacts from the ravages of weather, pollution, development and use by the general public? This innovative book attempts to answer these important questions by exploring how non-market valuation techniques – used extensively in environmental economics – can be applied to cultural heritage. The book includes twelve comprehensive case studies that estimate public values for a diverse set of cultural goods, including English cathedrals, Bulgarian monasteries, rock paintings in Canada, statues in the US, and a medieval city in Africa.

Chapter 1: Why Value Cultural Heritage?

Richard C. Ready and Ståle Navrud

Subjects: environment, environmental sociology, politics and public policy, public policy


Richard C. Ready and Ståle Navrud The readers of this book will be well aware of the challenges facing our built cultural heritage. Agencies and organizations whose mission it is to protect and preserve historic and culturally important buildings, monuments, and artifacts from the ravages of weather, pollution, development, and even use by the general public must compete for needed resources with other social goals. Should we raise taxes to increase spending on cultural heritage, or should we divert resources away from some other worthy cause such as education, health care, or aid to the poor? What is the proper level of expenditure on cultural heritage? Given limited resources, priorities must be set among competing preservation and restoration goals. Given the myriad different types of cultural heritage and the myriad pressing problems, which problems should be addressed first? At the same time, some question the proper role of government in providing cultural heritage goods. Should preservation and restoration efforts be supported by tax revenues, or should cultural heritage goods be selfsupporting, either through user fees or donations and subscriptions? These challenges and questions are remarkably similar to those faced in another area of public policy—environmental policy. In that arena as well there are issues of what resources to dedicate to protecting and enhancing environmental quality, which aspects of environmental quality to spend those resources on, who should provide those resources, and how. The field of Environmental Economics has developed to address these issues, and provides a consistent, coherent...

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