The RSA Heritage Index (2020) allows the ranking of local authorities through the analysis of data around key themes: Historic Built Environment, Museums, Archives and Artefacts, Industrial Heritage, Parks and Open Spaces, Landscape and Natural Heritage, Culture and Memories, and a general category.
Cornwall is ranked at 46 for local authorities in England. It is particularly strong in the general category (9), Culture and Memories (31) and Landscape and Natural Heritage (81). Surprisingly it did not have a strong showing for Industrial Heritage (229) even though the UNESCO World Heritage status has a focus on the mining heritage (‘Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape‘); the image of the Crowns on the north Cornish coast is a reminder of the dramatic setting for some of this industrial heritage. There is marked fall in the rankings for Museums, Archives and Artefacts (from 185 to 280), but a modest increase for the Historic Built Environment (from 169 to 137).
The RSA Heritage Index (2020) allows a comparison to be made between different regions. This histogram shows the percentage of Listed Buildings and Scheduled Monuments are at risk across Lincolnshire (including the unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire). There are 42 Grade I Listed Buildings at risk, 35 Grade II*, and 9 Grade II; there are 79 Scheduled Monuments at risk.
A different view is obtained if the actual numbers are presented. This places an emphasis on the issue of protecting Scheduled Monuments.
Norwich has the highest rating in the RSA Heritage Index (2020) at number 3 for England. The rankings in all seven categories are almost identical to those for 2016. The lowest score, as might be expected for an urban location, is for Landscape and Natural Heritage.
Cambridge is placed at number 9, and like Norwich does not do so well for Landscape and Natural Heritage. Like Norwich, its rankings for the different themes are very similar to those for 2016.
Southend-on-Sea, a unitary authority, is placed at number 19. Its particular strength lies in Landscape and Natural Heritage, as well as Industrial Heritage, and Museums, Archives and Artefacts. Again, note the similarity to the rankings for 2016.
Ipswich, the highest ranking authority for Suffolk, is placed at number 87 (a fall from 2016). There is an improvement in the theme of Culture and Memories, though slight falls for Parks and Open Spaces, and the General category.
Colchester in Essex is placed at number 140. It shares a museum service with Ipswich, though does not perform as well as in the theme of Museums, Archives and Artefacts. There are improvements from 2016 in the themes of Historic Built Environment, Culture and Memories, but a slight slippage for Parks and Open Spaces.
Altogether there are 11 locations in the eastern region that are placed in the top 100 for England: four in Norfolk, three for Essex (plus Southend-on-Sea), two for Suffolk, and one for Cambridgeshire.
The RSA Heritage Index (published in 2016) has ranked the heritage assets for different local authorities in England. Norwich is the only locality in the eastern counties to feature in the Top 10: it is placed at number 9. It is ranked first in England for ‘Cultures and Memories’, fourth for ‘Historic Built Environment’, and 12th for ‘Museums, Archives and Artefacts’.
North Norfolk, and Kings Lynn and West Norfolk are placed 36th and 48th respectively.
Outside Norfolk, Cambridge is placed at number 12, and three parts of Essex are in the top 50: Southend-on-Sea (22), Maldon (40), and Castle Point (41).
Heritage Futures hosted the RSA Heritage Network event for Suffolk this evening. Around 50 guests from across the region listened to presentations on the heritage index (David Gill), museums in Suffolk (Jenna Ingamells) and the Hold (Amy Rushton). There was an extended time of discussion to consider the three RSA themes relating to:
the challenges facing heritage in our region / country
the develop of networks to support heritage
Further details about the event can be found in the press release.
The importance of heritage for the North-East of England is highlighted in the new Heritage Counts [pdf] prepared by Historic England and the Historic Environment Forum (HEF).
Heritage added £536.6 million directly in GVA; this increases to £976.6 million if indirect and induced contributions from heritage are included. Over 9,600 individuals are employed directly in heritage, and including those whose jobs are indirectly linked to heritage that figure stands at 15,700.
The importance of heritage for the East of England is highlighted in the new Heritage Counts [pdf] prepared by Historic England and the Historic Environment Forum (HEF).
Heritage added £1.3 bn directly in GVA; and £2.3 bn if indirect and induced contributions are included. 19,100 individuals are directly employed in heritage, and including those whose jobs are indirectly linked to heritage that figure stands at 31,300.
The RSA has recently launched the first iteration of the Heritage Index in association with the Heritage Lottery Fund. For the first time it has brought together a disparate range of data outputs which can be categorised according to whether they are heritage assets or heritage activities. Correlations are then made between them, with factoring for density of activity / asset, population, and weighting according to the perceived importance of the the category type. The methodology is explored within a short film, accompanying technical report, and data which can be explored through manipulation of the summary dataset in an excel file, or via the web-based visualisations which make good use of spatial data presentation techniques.
This forms part of a larger project which the RSA is working on, looking at the opportunities and challenges for ‘place development’ – of importance in a political and public services landscape of regionalisation and localism and expectation of ever greater value for money for public investment. The historic environment (to give heritage it’s policy-world moniker) is under pressure, and is regularly flagged as being under-resourced and at risk, so the Heritage Index data is a useful tool in terms of reanalysing and reconceptualising the role of heritage assets within our living environment. The work has thrown up some interesting initial findings – which at first may seem counter-intuitive, but perhaps when reflected upon, were staring us in the face. Areas with high levels of heritage assets don’t always have high levels of engagement with those assets, and areas suffering from deprivation with low density of heritage assets to access may actually have higher levels of engagement. There is of course variability across the country and the methodology can be pored over for what it does and doesn’t do – but nonetheless, it does show the potential for arguments of what heritage can potentially do within communities.
The Index also brings to the fore the use of proxy measures – useful at a time when in Scotland, discussion has come round again on whether the Scotland Performs framework indicator for heritage – the state of Category A Listed Buildings at Risk (equivalent to Grade I in England) – is suitable to act as a measure of the state of the historic environment. Proxy measures are liked and disliked in equal measure, and care must be taken with them – but it does not mean that they cannot raise interesting analytical results and dialogue – as has happened with the Index.
The publication and commitment to continue to support the development and evolution of the Index is welcome, and I’ll take this opportunity to sound like a broken record (stuck in the same groove for over a decade, since I assisted with the creation of Heritage Counts as an evolution from the Heritage Monitor produced by the English Tourism Council (now VisitEngland)), flagging the need for a heritage observatory function to pull together the large amounts of data and grey literature which can add to the evidence base for the role of the historic environment in society.
A debate was held at the RSA last week, entitled ‘Why heritage is our future‘ to explore issues associated with the Index, and enable commentary on the links between communities and their historic environment. What was noticeable throughout the debate, which was lively and interesting, was the lack of consideration of heritage organisations themselves (apart from the HLF which was represented at the debate by the Head of Research and Evaluation, Gareth Maeer). This was surprising to me – having spent much of my professional life working with the inner machinery of conservation agencies, heritage NGOs and policy analysis. Perhaps these organisations aren’t as visible or at the front of the mind of people engaging with heritage as much as we think within community settings? This is something I need to explore further.