Cultural heritage preservation means keeping the artifacts and traditions of a community intact against factors trying to change them or wear them away. Some common examples are restoring historical buildings, passing on an ancient craft or recording traditional tales. Cultural heritage is crucial for communities. It gives them a way to look back on their history in a way that informs their present-day identity. It also provides the communities with new chances to thrive.
Many people behind cultural conservation programs prioritize staying local and helping their communities as much as possible. Often, people living in poverty or those on the outskirts of society are the ones first offered these opportunities. In this sense, heritage preservation reduces poverty and helps communities by giving people employment and education.
Cultural heritage preservation encourages as well as utilizes tourism. Heritage Tourism is one of the major ways preserving cultural heritage can reduce poverty in a community. It often boosts a community’s economy and can become one of its major industries. Many tourists visit cultural sites and partake in culturally-enriching activities while traveling and tend to stay longer at these places.
As tourism increases, so do jobs for local community members directly involved in tourist activities (such as museum guides or re-enactors) and those not associated with tourism (such as the food industry or local shops). Employers can then afford to pay their employees more as they receive more and more business. People also become encouraged to start their own businesses or move their businesses to these small communities upon seeing the economy emerge and grow. A Pakistan-based study published in February 2020 shows that increases in tourism noticeably improve a community overall. A 1% increase in tourism can enhance the GPD by 0.051%, agricultural development by 0.26%, direct foreign investment by nearly 2.65% and potentially decrease poverty by 0.51%.
Examples of Cultural Heritage Preservation
An example of a cultural heritage preservation project that has greatly helped a small, rural community is the Rural Revitalization Drama Festival. It occurs in Shixia Village in China and showcases traditional Chinese Opera. Though Shixia was an impoverished village in 2010, the tourism created by the festival has provided more jobs. It has created more opportunities for extra income, encouraged people who previously left the village to return and urged people to start businesses there. The festival has also highlighted other cultural treasures in the area that promoted even more preservation projects and tourism. By 2019, they were able to purchase the technology needed to process their own millet crops; whereas, they previously had to outsource production to other places.
These disciplines and practices are culturally important, but they also give many people the chances of employment and education. For example, in the Philippines, Escuela Taller has created education programs in different traditional disciplines, such as carpentry and metalwork. In Peru, local women were trained in creating traditional textiles in order to support themselves and their families. This project was created by Centro de Textiles Tradicionale del Cusco in 1996 with the support of JoinTrafalgar and the TreadRight Foundation.
How Heritage Preservation Reduces Poverty
Cultural heritage preservation reduces poverty and helps communities by passing down ancient, artisan crafts to new generations. Preserving cultural heritage is a way of declaring to others that the people and the communities housing these museums, historical buildings and traditions are important and worth protecting. With people empathizing with a community, it can encourage them to fight against the destruction of land or buildings. It can inspire people to donate and even start charities and nonprofits. Preserving cultural heritage reduces poverty by promoting the visibility and the empowerment of communities. It can at first seem to only be about showcasing a country’s history but it runs deeper. Cultural heritage preservation gives modern people a chance at a prosperous future.
– Mikayla Burton