Cultural heritage is a vital part of communities, giving them a sense of identity and well-being. It is also an economic asset and a tourist attraction. Yet, despite these benefits, it is often overlooked and undervalued. This is especially true in places where there has been conflict or natural disaster. As a result, there is a risk that these treasured artifacts and traditions may be lost or forgotten. This is why Blue Shield works to prevent the loss of cultural heritage to communities, recognising that it is a fundamental part of their wellbeing.
The term “cultural heritage” is quite broad and can refer to many different types of objects, practices and beliefs. It can encompass both tangible and intangible heritage, and includes both historical-artistic artefacts as well as their environments, known as the cultural landscape. It can even extend to the ideas, values and symbols that form a community’s culture. In addition, it is important to note that these cultural heritage assets are constantly changing and can be influenced by society’s perception of them (Vecco, 2010).
For example, a work of art may have been created centuries ago but can still be considered part of the country’s cultural heritage today. This is because art, literature and music can cross cultural boundaries and influence each other, even when separated by time and space. Similarly, buildings can be influenced by other cultures as they evolve over time. This can be seen in the way that African homes were influenced by the neoclassical architecture of American plantations when built in Liberia, or how Japanese prints were incorporated into Pablo Picasso’s paintings.
Cultural heritage preservation is a complex process that requires the support of both the private and public sectors. It involves balancing the interests of those who own or care for heritage with the protection of it, and is a crucial issue in areas where there is conflict or natural disaster. For example, the ownership of a monument might be disputed in the aftermath of a civil war or an earthquake. However, it is possible to protect cultural heritage by ensuring that it remains available to the public through education and tourism.
Whether it is restoring an old building or passing on an ancient craft, cultural heritage preservation is about preserving and celebrating a community’s history. This helps to give future generations a chance to look back on their past and learn from it. It also gives them a new chance to thrive.
In the United States, there are a number of organizations that are responsible for protecting cultural heritage. They include cultural and arts centers that present, promote and provide training in community-oriented arts and cultural activities (16 percent); festival organizations that organize or sponsor public events such as fairs, Fourth of July celebrations, Pioneer Days, Martin Luther King parades and other annual pageants, processions and celebrations (18 percent); and ethnic, cultural, and folk organizations that use expressive forms to encourage understanding of ethnic, racial, regional, linguistic, or religious groups or traditions (61 percent). Most of these cultural heritage organizations are small, with most having budgets of less than $100,000.