Business School experts to work on project exploring value of culture and heritage to society



Dr Rafaela Ganga and Dr Steve Nolan of Liverpool Business School will act a co-investigators on a new Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) funded research project looking to measure the value of culture and heritage to society.

One of six projects announced this month, the Liverpool-based research opportunity, Cultural heritage, people and place: understanding value via a regional case study, is led by University of Liverpool academic Dr Tamara West, with support from LJMU colleagues. The project has received £420,657 from the £3.1million fund split across the projects.

Dr Ganga will work closely with National Museums Liverpool (NML) and run community specific thematic focus groups to collect qualitative data around ideas of the social and economic value of cultural goods.

Dr Nolan will be in charge of the work package that builds on this rich source to design and run a survey that will provide the basis for a social cost benefit analysis.

Dr Nolan said: “We are very excited to be involved with this project. The extensive funding allows us to produce wide ranging and long running research which will help to develop our understanding of the important role the culture and heritage sector plays in the economic and social life of Liverpool and the wider City Region.

“National Museums Liverpool are a key player in this sector and we are delighted to be working closely with them to develop the tools that will help policymakers better understand the value that the institutions of culture and heritage create.”

Cultural heritage, people and place: understanding value via a regional case study

NML is currently undertaking a 10 year large-scale £53m Waterfront Transformation Project, encompassing an expansion of the International Slavery Museum (ISM) and associated outdoor spaces. The project seeks to “link storytelling, heritage, community and hospitality to create a rich visitor experience and will be a catalyst for social and environmental improvements in the area (…) to re-engage local communities and empower individuals to bring this significant and incredibly rich part of the waterfront back to life”.

The Waterfront Transformation Project, the associated wider waterfront development plans, and the contextual cultural assets and ecosystem of the city and the wider Liverpool City Region (LCR) constitute a relevant and timely focus for the project.

The region faces significant and ongoing social and economic challenges, with deprivation and unemployment figures high and skills, health and education levels lower than UK averages. It has an extremely rich tangible cultural heritage that includes the largest concentration of listed buildings outside of London and the recently de-listed Liverpool UNESCO world heritage site, and its intangible heritage includes musical and sporting practices, and the award of the UNESCO City of Music. The city hosted the European Capital of Culture in 2008 and the Eurovision Song contest in 2023.

An LCR mayor was elected in 2017 and combined authority plans and policies, including those for culture, are now established and are addressing city-centric cultural initiatives by refocusing on the region’s boroughs.

By exploring this local ecosystem via access to existing and emergent data and local stakeholders and communities the research will investigate how narratives of heritage and cultural value(s) are defined, captured – or overlooked - and how these understandings of value might differ across different stakeholders, diverse socio economic and ethnic groups and perspectives.


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