Cultural Asset Mapping

Cultural Asset Mapping (also simply ‘cultural mapping’ for those less inclined to assume everything is an ‘asset’ ripe for some form of exploitation) is an endeavour which takes many forms according the various scopes and contexts of the project which forms the underlying basis for it. At the core of cultural mapping is the sense that life is a shared aesthetic phenomenon.

In the broadest sense, a cultural map can include any human activity not strictly necessary for survival (examples include gardening, music, fine art, storytelling, cuisine, sports) across any given geographical parameters (bearing in mind that activities which have more than one hub are often best represented in more than one single map). A map might be created using Google Maps, ArcGIS or even local artists themselves (or a combination of the above).

The cultural asset mapping methodology is centred on collecting data (from individuals and organizations) through various means such as interviews and questionnaires and then analysing that data to gain an understanding of tangible and intangible local assets. It’s about describing a ‘sense of place’ unique to an area.

The most common aim of a cultural mapping project is to identify and then study people, places and associations as a means to plan a vision for the future (whether that be at the local council or national level). Frequently, cultural asset mapping uncovers a huge amount of valuable data that local decision makers were simply not aware of prior to the study. It can be hugely beneficial to deprived areas which appear to lack cultural vibrancy and importance as all locations on our planet do have cultural assets of one kind of another, whether barely known or already widely celebrated.

Using similar techniques, it is also possible to make a personal cultural map based on one human being’s cultural and emotional life, though these are usually funded by the individual themselves and are not generally part of a regional plan.

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