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Journal ArticleDOI

Access relative to need for community conservation funding in Australia

21 Mar 2019-International Journal of Heritage Studies (Routledge)-Vol. 25, Iss: 12, pp 1302-1318
TL;DR: In a climate of scarce resources for heritage preservation, there is a need to develop principles and methodology for assessing and responding to inequity within the conservation sector as discussed by the authors, and this paper is an example.
Abstract: In a climate of scarce resources for heritage preservation, there is a need to develop principles and methodology for assessing and responding to inequity within the conservation sector. This paper...

Summary (4 min read)

Introduction

  • This study employs spatial distribution methodology as a tool in understanding resource gaps and consequent risks to the preservation of cultural material.
  • It also assists in mapping risk and inequity within the current national distribution of, and acces to, conservation services.
  • Collections which fall outside state or national custodianship, and which are located more diversely across Australia, face significant geographic, economic and professional barriers to conserving their objects.
  • With little expectation of ongoing public funding, collections in regional and remote areas must rely on sporadic grants through competitive state programs.
  • The largest source of funding for the preservation of movable heritage objects is the National Library of Australia’s Community Heritage Grants program, funded by the Australian Government.

Accessibility in conservation policy

  • Preservation and access have been linked in Australian conservation policy since the 1970s, with the 1975 Museums in Australia (Pigott Report) proposing that museums, through preserving cultural heritage, should aim to ‘arouse curiosity’, ‘educate formally and informally’, ‘extend the front-lines of knowledge’ and, lastly, ‘entertain people of all ages’ (Pigott 1975, 6).
  • Public collecting institutions also align preservation and access to make claims about public ownership, for example, the National Gallery of Victoria declares (2017, n.p.):.
  • While a strong basis has been established for increasing access in relation to objects in cultural institutions, there is a need to consider the accessibility of conservation resources outside of these institutions.
  • By continuing to conceptually, practically and spatially align conservation with cultural institutions, the risk, as Hall warned in 1999, is that the cultural productions of communities go ‘unrecorded and unanalysed’, thus diminishing cultural repertoires (13).
  • Assessing the availability of conservation knowledge, within a service industry model (Sloggett 2016), on the other hand, invites an analysis of both the spatial and aspatial determinants of accessibility, and the distribution of conservation services across community demographics.

Access relative to need

  • These factors have been defined as availability, accessibility, accommodation, affordability and acceptability (Penchansky and Thomas 1981).
  • In non-urban places, the availability or geographic distance of services is one of several social determinants of health, intersecting with factors such as education, occupation, income, early childhood development, social capital, employment, housing and environment to create health inequities (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016).
  • The public health field has adapted this model to address the needs of different populations such as Indigenous Australians, for whom the cultural acceptability of a health service is a determinant of service use (Healy and McKee 2004; Ware 2013).
  • Access relative to need may be extended from the health sector to cultural heritage and conservation.
  • Chandler and LaLonde (1998) have identified seven factors in ensuring cultural continuity for First Nations communities: self-government, land claims, education, health care, cultural facilities, police and fire services, and language.

Mapping conservation

  • Recent quantitative projects have sought to understand the spatial distribution of museums in the UK (Candlin 2017; Davies and Lima 2017), the effects of ‘museum clusters’ on tourism in urban centres such as London (Zhang et al. 2017), and the spatial analysis of museums for tourism planning in Turkey (Kervankiran, Temurcin and Yakar 2016).
  • These projects have a strong institutional focus, and do not attempt to map access to conservation services outside of museums.
  • No such study has been undertaken of the distribution of conservation services in Australia.

Methodology

  • This research identified and analysed the spatial distribution of Community Heritage Grants, employing the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA+) methodology developed by Professor Graeme Hugo at the University of Adelaide.
  • The following analysis focuses on the spatial distribution of project funding and omits aspatial factors that influence access to a service, with the exception of a category for Indigenous Australian collections and materials.
  • The 2011 Australian Statistical Geographic Standard (ASGS) Remoteness Structure was used to determine the relative remoteness of each organisation.
  • The Remoteness Structure categorisation is based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA+) developed in 2000 by the then Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC) and the National Key Centre for Social Applications of GIS .
  • Addresses for recipients were found on organisations’ websites.

Results

  • From 1994–2017, a total of 1323 projects were funded through the Community Heritage Grants program.
  • By assigning each project recipient a Remoteness Area category, and identifying projects that intend to conserve Indigenous Australian materials and collections, a statistical overview is provided of the spatial distribution of community conservation funding patterns (Table 1).

Project type

  • Thus, total figures reflect the number of successful projects which includes combined projects.
  • Over time, the proportion of conservation type projects has reduced by two-thirds of total projects from 67% in 1994 to 23% in 2017.
  • This corresponds to a rise in significance assessments in the early 2000s following the publication of Significance – a guide to assessing the significance of cultural heritage objects and collections (Heritage Collections Council 2001).
  • The influence of these cultural policy documents is evident.

Conservation projects

  • Funding amounts range from $470 for archival storage materials for the Deaf Society of New South Wales in 2013 to $15,000 for the digitisation of audio tapes for the Lu Rees Archives at the Children’s Book Council ACT in 2012 (National Library of Australia 2012, 2013).
  • This reflects the higher cost of funding conservation and training compared to significance and preservation assessments.
  • Comparison of Community Heritage Grant distribution for conservation projects (1994– 2017), also known as Table 2.
  • The total figures presented here are higher than the conservation category totals in Table 1.
  • This is due to the disaggregation of the conservation category into four project types.

Indigenous materials and collections

  • Indigenous Australian materials and collections account for 7% (N=97) of successful projects (Table 1).
  • These included grants to support Aboriginal art centres, land councils, language and culture centres, corporations, and religious groups, as well as sub-collections of nonIndigenous organisations.
  • It is not clear from the statistics, however, what the percentage of Indigenous material that receives support is located within regionally, and how much within major urban centres.
  • By project type, the distribution of Indigenous projects is consistent with the overall distribution of CHG projects, with a slightly higher proportion of projects in the conservation category (34%, N=36).
  • Digitisation may be prioritised for its capacity to both preserve and make accessible collection materials (Ormond-Parker and Sloggett 2012), the need to overcome the ‘digital divide’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Samaras 2005, 84); and to enable ‘virtual repatriation’ in cases where institutions refuse to repatriate original materials (Nakata et al. 2008, 226).

Discussion

  • Spatial distribution of conservation services Statistical analysis of the Community Heritage Grants indicates that there is significant spatial variability in community conservation projects, with fewer projects funded in regional and remote areas of Australia compared to urban centres, and a lower proportion of conservation treatments funded in remote and very remote areas.
  • Conservation is integral to enabling and sustaining access to cultural objects over time.
  • Addressing the social determinants of health inequality must take into account the effects of cultural and linguistic continuity on the wellbeing of Indigenous and First Nations people (Colquhoun and Dockery 2012).
  • Spatial, territorial and environmental justice movements seek to spatialise issues of structural inequality to reveal the socio-spatial distribution of advantages and disadvantages.
  • These theoretical models help to situate the analysis of levels of access to conservation in a broader context, so that distributional inequalities can be seen as ‘the more visible outcome of deeper processes of spatial discrimination’ (Soja 2010, 47).

An ‘access relative to need’ approach for conservation

  • The author and activist bell hooks (2009, 23) writes of place-based communities as providing a ‘culture of belonging’.
  • Heritage objects, as the material evidence of past and living cultures, support and extend this culture and right of belonging.
  • The current spatial patterns of community conservation services in Australia reproduce a urban/rural division in which there is significantly less conservation of heritage in regional and remote areas, despite the wealth of cultural material held outside of major cities.
  • There is an empirical economical basis for the claim that greater equity produces greater efficiency (Klasen 2010).
  • Adapting the concept of ‘access relative to need’ from healthcare to conservation policy provides a multidimensional framework for exploring the impact of unequal access in the conservation industry.

Conclusion

  • This study focuses on spatial accessibility to conservation as one factor hypothesised to influence the overall state of Australia’s distributed national collection.
  • While significance assessments and training projects were evenly distributed, a higher proportion of preservation needs projects were funded in urban areas, compared to more conservation projects in remote areas.
  • By judging applications primarily on the merits of the proposal (National Library of Australia 2017b), the Community Heritage Grants program does not accommodate inherent inequity.
  • This means that spatial and aspatial factors impeding access to conservation are not mitigated in current policy and a historically inequitable system is reproduced.
  • For Indigenous Australian collections in particular, place-based conservation is needed as ‘the significance of community collections is directly related to their on-country location, and strengthened by continuing links to the people who made them, and their descendants’ (Scott 2017, 7).

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1
Access relative to need for community conservation funding in Australia
Ainslee Meredith, Robyn Sloggett, Marcelle Scott
Abstract
The centralisation of major collecting institutions in urban areas has meant that, despite
increasing public engagement, the conservation industry remains inaccessible to the majority of
Australians. The ability to access services is determined by both spatial and aspatial factors.
This paper focuses on geographic barriers as one factor determining the accessibility of
conservation services in Australia. Using statistical analysis of the spatial distribution of 1323
local heritage conservation projects that have been funded by the National Library of
Australia’s Community Heritage Grants Program from 1994 to 2017 this study measures the
spatial equality of conservation in Australia. Funded projects were categorised according to the
2011 Australian Statistical Geographic Standard (ASGS) Remoteness Structure to quantify
them by degree of remoteness. Spatial distribution analysis indicates that the majority of
projects are located in major cities, with proportionately fewer projects funded in regional,
remote and very remote areas. An ‘access relative to need’ approach is proposed to counter
the current centralisation of the Australian conservation industry, however the principles and
methodology are globally relevant in accessing any geographically-determined inequity within
the conservation sector.
Key words
cultural materials conservation
conservation policy
spatial equality
access relative to need
community collections

2
Introduction
This study employs spatial distribution methodology as a tool in understanding resource gaps
and consequent risks to the preservation of cultural material. Utilising a longitudinal
assessment of data available from 1994 to 2017, the study aligns geographic modelling with
assessment of data from the Federal government grant program that delivers support for
conservation to organisations across Australia. The methodology thus described is useful in
understanding where funding is delivered, and what impacts may accrue as a result. It also
assists in mapping risk and inequity within the current national distribution of, and acces to,
conservation services.
Across the world, the conservation industry has grown as part of the development of cultural
institutions such as public museums, galleries, archives and libraries, collectively known as the
GLAM sector. In Australia, as is the predominant situation elsewhere, these institutions, which
receive public funding for their preservation of state and nationally owned cultural assets, are
in the majority of cases located in urban areas. Those with in-house conservation departments
can preserve materials on site, calibrate preservation and emergency response plans according
to local needs and risks, and embed conservation practices and protocols within the
organisation. Accordingly, state and national collections of movable heritage objects are well-
preserved: in 20152016, with an annual conservation and storage budget of over $300,000,
the State Library of Victoria ‘preserved and conserved more than 45,000 items’ and ‘assessed
and treated 185 newly acquired collections through the quarantine store’ (State Library
Victoria 2016, 12-13). Collections which fall outside state or national custodianship, and
which are located more diversely across Australia, face significant geographic, economic and
professional barriers to conserving their objects. For many such collections, there is limited
data that records object type, materials, condition, storage, custodianship, risks, and
conservation status. Although these collections form an important part of the ‘distributed
national collection’ of Australian movable heritage objects (Anderson 1997), there is no
comprehensive register of collections and objects, nor an understanding of how collections and
their needs for conservation services are spatially distributed in relation to risks.
Eighty-five years ago, Markham and Richards (1933) identified risks to regional collections in
Australia based on insufficient funding, inappropriate storage and materials, and widespread
loss and damage. These risks were reiterated by the Committee of Inquiry on Museums and
National Collections in their 1975 Museums in Australia report, and remain generally
unmitigated in a climate of increased centralisation and rural disinvestment. With little
expectation of ongoing public funding, collections in regional and remote areas must rely on
sporadic grants through competitive state programs. These include Heritage Victoria’s Living

3
Heritage Grants, the Public Record Office Victoria’s Local History Grants, New South Wales
Heritage Grant Scheme, and ArtsQueensland’s Infrastructure Fund. The largest source of
funding for the preservation of movable heritage objects is the National Library of Australia’s
Community Heritage Grants program, funded by the Australian Government. Since 1994, it
has provided over $6.5m for the preservation of publicly accessible heritage materials which
are ‘locally owned, but nationally significant’ (National Library of Australia 2017a).
Community Heritage Grants provide support to community organisations for significance
assessments of collections, preservation needs assessments of collections, conservation
activities and collection management, and training workshops. Each year, the successful
applications are promoted through the National Library of Australia’s website, thus providing a
rigorously produced and analytically useful dataset on patterns in public funding for
conservation. This information can then be utilised to effectively map the spatial distribution of
access to conservation services beyond the major collecting institutions.
Accessibility in conservation policy
Preservation and access have been linked in Australian conservation policy since the 1970s,
with the 1975 Museums in Australia (Pigott Report) proposing that museums, through
preserving cultural heritage, should aim to ‘arouse curiosity’, ‘educate formally and
informally’,extend the front-lines of knowledge’ and, lastly, ‘entertain people of all ages’
(Pigott 1975, 6). This theme is evident in more recent conservation policy, as Sloggett (2016,
119) details: ‘The Pigott Report drew on the two informing principles of access and
preservation, and the 1995 National Conservation Policy reflected this focus with five of the
ten policy statements linking access and preservation as key issues’. Public collecting
institutions also align preservation and access to make claims about public ownership, for
example, the National Gallery of Victoria declares (2017, n.p.): ‘It is a collection that is yours,
and it’s free!’; and to emphasise the ‘sense of belonging’ and other social benefits that can arise
from accessing cultural collections (Museum Victoria 2013, 3).
Internationally, access to cultural materials is also posited as a key outcome of preservation. In
2008, the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation adopted a
definition of conservation as ‘all measures and actions aimed at safeguarding tangible cultural
heritage while ensuring its accessibility to present and future generations’ (ICOM-CC 2008).
Conservation literature engaging with questions of access explores the ability of conservators
to enable object-handling in institutions through touch (Candlin 2010; Chatterjee 2010), and
the emphasises the social benefits of conservation for non-professionals (Saunders 2014).
While a strong basis has been established for increasing access in relation to objects in cultural

4
institutions, there is a need to consider the accessibility of conservation resources outside of
these institutions. By continuing to conceptually, practically and spatially align conservation
with cultural institutions, the risk, as Hall warned in 1999, is that the cultural productions of
communities go ‘unrecorded and unanalysed’, thus diminishing cultural repertoires (13).
Assessing the availability of conservation knowledge, within a service industry model (Sloggett
2016), on the other hand, invites an analysis of both the spatial and aspatial determinants of
accessibility, and the distribution of conservation services across community demographics.
Access relative to need
Access to key services such as health, education and justice is determined by a variety of factors
which affect entry into or use of a system. These factors have been defined as availability,
accessibility, accommodation, affordability and acceptability (Penchansky and Thomas 1981).
In non-urban places, the availability or geographic distance of services is one of several social
determinants of health, intersecting with factors such as education, occupation, income, early
childhood development, social capital, employment, housing and environment to create health
inequities (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016). The public health field has
adapted this model to address the needs of different populations such as Indigenous Australians,
for whom the cultural acceptability of a health service is a determinant of service use (Healy
and McKee 2004; Ware 2013). To improve the accessibility of health services and mitigate the
effects of spatial inequality, movements for ‘territorial justice’ attempt to address these linked
social factors (Humphreys and Dixon 2004). This is translated into an ‘access relative to need’
policy approach and geospatial index by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2014)
to address inequities in service provision and health outcomes for Indigenous Australians.
Access relative to need may be extended from the health sector to cultural heritage and
conservation. Chandler and LaLonde (1998) have identified seven factors in ensuring cultural
continuity for First Nations communities: self-government, land claims, education, health
care, cultural facilities, police and fire services, and language. The authors identify language
use as having significant predictive power of health and wellbeing for First Nations
communities in Canada (Hallett, Chandler, and LaLonde 2007). The combination of these
‘protective’ factors has been correlated with lower youth suicide rates in Canada, indicating
that ‘individual and cultural continuity are strongly linked’ through the mechanism of cultural
preservation (Chandler and LaLonde 2008, 72). While a causal link between access to cultural
heritage and health outcomes is yet to be established, the potential for conservation to
strengthen societies, by supporting cultural continuity through the preservation of material and
intangible culture, deserves greater attention.

5
Mapping conservation
Recent quantitative projects have sought to understand the spatial distribution of museums in
the UK (Candlin 2017; Davies and Lima 2017), the effects of ‘museum clusters’ on tourism in
urban centres such as London (Zhang et al. 2017), and the spatial analysis of museums for
tourism planning in Turkey (Kervankiran, Temurcin and Yakar 2016). However, these
projects have a strong institutional focus, and do not attempt to map access to conservation
services outside of museums. No such study has been undertaken of the distribution of
conservation services in Australia. A spatial analysis is, therefore, warranted to measure the
geographic accessibility of the system, and to lay the groundwork for future studies of aspatial
factors influencing access to conservation. The work of mapping access will continue into the
mapping of risk, as it is likely that places with low access to conservation services will be at a
greater risk of loss or destruction of heritage due to environmental, social and cultural factors.

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"Access relative to need for communi..." refers background in this paper

  • ...The economic value of access to heritage has been extensively documented (Throsby 2001)....

    [...]

  • ...The social benefits include a connection with others and sense of identity (Throsby 2000), and ‘place attachment’ in built and environmental heritage (Low 2002)....

    [...]

Frequently Asked Questions (1)
Q1. What contributions have the authors mentioned in the paper "Access relative to need for community conservation funding in australia" ?

This paper focuses on geographic barriers as one factor determining the accessibility of conservation services in Australia. Using statistical analysis of the spatial distribution of 1323 local heritage conservation projects that have been funded by the National Library of Australia ’ s Community Heritage Grants Program from 1994 to 2017 this study measures the spatial equality of conservation in Australia. Spatial distribution analysis indicates that the majority of projects are located in major cities, with proportionately fewer projects funded in regional, remote and very remote areas.