Internationalisation and localization of heritage content

Results of the CreativeCH workshop at PIN VASTLab (Prato, Italy) on the 16th of May 2013, within the EVA Florence 2013 Conference programme. The workshop addressed challenges in communicating local/regional cultural heritage in European countries and internationally, sensitive for the distinct regional cultural characteristics.

Workshop highlights

Cultural and Creative sectors need to rely on good business models from the start of any activity:
Revenue is an essential ingredient for the future of Heritage and Creative Industries. There are tough times ahead for the Heritage sector, and public funding will be a key issue for years to come, although tighter collaboration with Creative Industries, i.e. private funding, will enable both sides to benefit from each other. Creative Industries can help making Cultural Heritage based products a profitable business, while CH institutions need to view costs as investments. Investments must be made on both parts not only in terms of funding, but also in understanding the advantages of digital content and technologies.

Access rights and copyright agreements: In order for Cultural Heritage partners to benefit from working with the Creative Industries, they will necessarily have to be more realistic about access and copyrights. It is important to set up from early on agreements between the actors involved, concerning access, public use and commercial use, metadata, derivatives, etc.

Involvement of local government bodies: Cultural Heritage is seen as a cultural and economic asset and local partnerships should be increasingly encouraged. Digital Creative Industries have the potential to generate jobs and income, enhance the quality of life and stimulate an exchange of ideas within the communities. Local governments should be aware of the possibilities that collaborating with creative and cultural industries can bring to the entire population.

Sustainable activities: The outcomes of collaboration between Cultural Heritage and Creative Industries must be self-sustaining to ensure a long lifespan of the final product. In the past decades technology has made giant leaps forward and this must be taken into account when developing new projects, whether they are intangible websites or tangible objects (just think of a floppy disk compared to iCloud for storage purposes). Maintenance and updates need to be done regularly to keep the products usable and attractive.

Good quality narration is fundamental: In order to ensure the successful outcome of any project, communication is fundamental. The better knowledge is transferred, the better our understanding will be. Unfortunately, this concept is lacking in many institutions, where knowledge is collected and researched, but not made available at a level that the general public can understand. It is sad to think that 2 out of 3 people in Europe have no historical horizon beyond their grandparent’s lifetime. Investments must be made in “edutainment”: explaining to a multicultural audience with different levels of education about their history. Innovative, entertaining, yet high-quality instruments should be used: virtual 3D reconstructions, interactive replicas or serious games (think of the quality of the imagery and historical reconstruction of “Assassin’s Creed”, for example: imagine an educational tool with the same appealing characteristics).

Citizens should be encouraged to participate: The idea people have of Cultural Heritage varies greatly and is influenced by many factors: their background, level of educational attainment, and where they live. Institutions must take these factors into consideration, as they will be able to receive indications on how to address the general public, how to communicate heritage to a broader audience adapting to their specific needs. On the other hand, citizens should be encouraged to understand how institutions work so they will better appreciate all the work that goes into making Cultural Heritage accessible.

Local people can add place-specific context: People who have grown up and live or work in a certain area can share experiences explaining what they value about particular objects, places or events. Social networking tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, TripAdvisor, to name a few, provide a place where people can spontaneously and freely express themselves, sharing their ideas and feelings, providing content. Memories of places can be preserved for future generations, who - for whatever reason – may not have the opportunity to visit the places.

“The end user is always right”: Cultural Heritage Institutions and Creative Industries, if they really wish to produce long-lasting, entertaining, high quality and money-making activities, must bear in mind a few questions: what will engage potential “customers”; what is the public interested in; what is the best way to present this information; how can local communities benefit from it? The participants become “the experts”, assisting professionals in the assessment of priorities and formats.

Summary by Stephanie Williams (PIN VAST-Lab)

Workshop content

Full report of the workshop, presentations, videos, additional content and links at:

Includes presentations by

  • Jez Collins (Centre for Media and Cultural Research, UK): Birmingham Music Archive (CHIEF Award Winner);
  • Maria Teresa Natale (Associazione culturale GoTellGo): Slow tourism and smartphones - APPasseggio APP;
  • Franco Niccolucci (PIN VastLAB): CreativeCH’s Tuscan Showcase (in Italian);
  • Daniel Pletinckx (Visual Dimension, Oudenaarde, Belgium): Cultural heritage, multimedia and beyond;
  • Mike Spearman (CMC Associates, Edinburgh, UK): Heritage & Creative Industries: Working together through new technologies.

Selected material and links