2019 ENCATC Round Table

Brussels, Belgium

Accounting for heritage assets. Ethical, cultural policy, and management implications.

On 13 December in Brussels, ENCATC's 2019 Round Table encouraged a lively conversation and exchange on the theme of accounting for heritage assets in the public and non profit sectors. 

What are the main issues involved in the capitalization process of heritage items? What are the ethical, cultural and economic implications? What insights can we gain about the peculiarities of these heritage assets? Who is in the position to decide how to properly design and implement the related accounting setting? 

A diverse panel of experts shed light on these questions and provided a comparative perspective involving EU and non EU Countries, which was especially important in the context of the forthcoming European process of  harmonisation of the accounting principle, and practices in these sectors. At the time of the round table, the experts explained how there was still no common reporting practices for heritage assets and how these assets were considered in different countries in Europe and beyond. 

There was no doubt during the talks that cultural heritage holds economic value. The question remains how to measure cultural heritage, account for it, and not to mislead the user in the process. Three measurement bases were put forward as appropriate for heritage assets: the historical cost, the market value, and the replacement cost.  However, this raised questions around how to measure other bases such as symbolic value and "value in use".  Hosted at BOZAR, a member of ENCATC, this granted the ideal backdrop for such questions and to have an example of local cultural heritage asset management. 

Many areas for improvement were acknowledged. Work still needs to be done so that the boundaries of what items fall under the proposed definition of "heritage items" is clear.  A full recognition approach is also needed (book value from a micro/macro economic perspective) along with better guidance on the selection of the appropriate measurement basis to be developed. 

The Round Table is an initiative of ENCATC, done in partnership with the University of Salento, University of Los Andes, BOZAR, and Europa Nostra.  ENCATC is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. 

2019 ENCATC Round Table