HERIWELL: Cultural Heritage as a Source of Societal Well-being in European Regions


HERIWELL has been carried out from Spring 2020 to late Summer 2022 by a consortium consisting of the following partners, all of which are recognised as non-profit bodies and look back on decades of European collaboration and joint research experiences:

  • Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale (IRS) – Project Leader –, founded in 1973, based in Milan
    (with Associazione ACUME as a sub-contractor)
  • The ERICarts Network and Institute,founded in 1993, based in Bonn and Cologne
  • Associazione Economia della Cultura (AEC), founded in 1986, based in Rome.

Authors of the project reports are:

Manuela Samek Lodovici (project manager), Cristina Vasilescu (deputy project manager), Serena Drufuca, Erica Melloni, Emma Paladino, Monica Patrizio, Flavia Pesce, Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale (Italy)

Andreas Wiesand, Victoria Ateca-Amestoy, ERICarts (Germany/Spain)

Pietro Valentino, Fabio Bacchini, Associazione Per Economia Della Cultura (Italy)

Flavia Barca, ACUME – subcontractor (Italy)

Victoria Ateca-Amestoy (ES); Nancy von Breska Ficović (BE); Erica Melloni / Ludovico Solima. (IT); Dieter Haselbach (DE); Katarzyna Jagodzińska / Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga / Jacek Purchla (PL); Andrew Ormston (IE); Pavla Petrová (CZ) and Gro B. Ween (NO) have been the authors of HERIWELL case studies.



This research project ishas been carried out for the ESPON EGTC, based in Luxembourg. The ESPON European Grouping on Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) has been established according to European law and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


The main objective of HERIWELL has been to develop of a pan-European methodology and territorial analysis of impacts of cultural heritage that can be associated with societal well-being, including but not limited to quality of life (e.g. educational benefits), social inclusion, material conditions and other aspects. The research covers material, intangible, digital and mixed cultural heritage and the impacts have been associated with:

  •  The presence of material cultural heritage (stock of buildings and other objects);
  •  Use of the material and intangible cultural heritage (including participation in related activities);
  •  Digitalisation of cultural heritage;
  •  EU-funded investments in cultural heritage;
  •  Activities (policies and measures, including participatory ones) aimed at increasing positive impacts of cultural heritage and diminishing potentially negative influences.

At the outset, the objectives of the study have been synthesised into six preliminary research questions.

  1. How can the societal impact of cultural heritage be defined? To which societal domains does cultural heritage contribute? How significant is this contribution?
  2. How to measure the societal impact of cultural heritage? How to express it in quantitative terms, considering reliability and validity, at the territorial level?
  3. What disparities exist between societal impacts of cultural heritage in different types of territories and for different groups of stakeholders (particularly as regards residents, tourists, minorities and migrants, but potentially also arts and heritage professionals)? And how to narrow these disparities?
  4. How to compare impacts of cultural heritage across different European regions?
  5. What are the impacts of EU funded heritage investments on societal well-being in cities and regions?
  6. To what extent can the digitalisation of cultural heritage and related offers influence well-being in terms of education, knowledge, etc.?

The main outcome of HERIWELL is a methodological framework, defining the most important societal domains in which impacts of cultural heritage can be observed, and providing evidence of such impacts. In addition, a quantification of impacts during  last decades has been possible by establishing comparable socio-economic indicators and using different sources of information, taking into account the results of the 2019 ESPON Targeted Analysis. As well, cases of contested and severely neglected heritage were taken into account during the research, inter alia via representative populations surveys carried out in 8 countries.

The classification of cultural heritage impacts on societal well-being follows a Theory of Change approach and comprises three dimensions:

  1. Quality of Life (including e.g. education/skills and the use of ICT for cultural purposes; health; cultural participation and satisfaction; environmental quality);
  2. Social Cohesion (e.g. equal opportunities and integration; heritage accessibility and governance; community participation, volunteering and charitable giving; trust);
  3.  Material Conditions (e.g. infrastructures; heritage-related income / jobs; cost of living and housing).

The geographical scope of HERIWELL encompasses all 32 European countries participating in the ESPON Programme, but the search for evidence beyond the national level has been particularly important.

Potential impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis have been considered as much as possible and led to modifications of the methodology originally planned for the project (e.g. representative population surveys have been added).

The Inception Report (Conceptual Framework) can be downloaded here. The Final Report with numerous Annexes can be found on https://www.espon.eu/HERIWELL


Over 40 thematic or country experts and other specialists from across Europe have been involved in the project, many of them associated with our Network, including as researchers in former ERICarts projects. Here a list of country experts: 
Sari Asikainen following Ritva Mitchell - FI; Victoria Ateca-Amestoy - ES; Catherine Ballé – FR; Giuliana Barbaro-Sant – MT; Nancy von Breska Ficović – BE; Kalliopi Chainoglou – EL and CY; Annalisa Cicerchia – IT; Idalina Conde – PT; Carmen Croitoru – RO; Oliver Göbel – DE and LU; Dieter Haselbach – CH and LI; Andreas Hennius – SE; Peter Inkei – HU; Erna Kaaber – IS; Petya Koleva – BG; Per Mangset – NO; Andrew Ormston – IE and UK; Jacek Purchla – PL; Veronika Ratzenböck – AT; Zuzana Révészová – SK; Ragnar Siil – EE; Cas Smithuijsen – NL; Baiba Tjarve – LT and LV; Jaroslava Tomanova – CZ; Aleksandra Uzelac – HR.
Carla Bodo, Ana Villaroya Planas, Bruno Dente and Elliot Stern acted as quality reviewers.