In 1994, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was established in Britain to support the national cultural heritage by investing in projects that would have a long-term influence on people’s communities and the localities they live in. Since then the Fund has allocated over 6 billion pounds of sterling for the implementation of more than 40,000 projects.
The HLF’s latest big investment was research carried out by Britain Thinks. Sociologists have ascertained what people in 12 British districts think about the local cultural heritage and the Fund’s previous projects. The project involved 4,000 people. Here are some conclusions that were reached: 93% of respondents believe their local cultural heritage is of great significance to the country. Additionally, cultural heritage positively influences the quality of local life. For instance, 80% of people say that local attractions beautify their place of residence. Moreover, 81% of respondents are sure that cultural heritage is of enormous personal importance to them.
The research also explains why this is so. People see advantages of cultural heritage that influence the quality of their life. Thus, respondents believe that cultural heritage:
• supports self-esteem and pride, and promotes social cohesion
• adds to the visual attractiveness of the locality
• provides opportunities for recreation, especially for families
• supports the local economy by attracting tourists and creating new jobs
During the research, sociologists discovered another interesting fact: they found out that how people relate to cultural heritage might be twofold. The first approach might be called business-oriented: people consider a cultural project from the standpoint of its practical use (for example, as support for the local economy).
In the second case, people are very emotional about cultural heritage. Emotional connections provoke a deep, personal response and tell people something really important about themselves, their family or their community. Thanks to this emotional connection, cultural heritage may become a roadmap that can help people better orient themselves in the world. It can teach them to draw strength from their local identity, take pride in their culture and feel like they are part of a whole.
More information on the research may be found here: