Socio-economic impact of cultural heritage. Case study: OFF Piotrkowska Łódź
The research project develops the subject matter addressed in Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe, project realised by the ICC from 2013 to 2015 (http://mck.krakow.pl/artykul/cultural-heritage-counts-for-europe-raport). One of the crucial findings of the project that investigated existing research on the impact of heritage on socio-economic environment was that a small number of initiatives of this type had been undertaken in Europe. There was postulated the need to establish a research group in order to implement evaluation research of cultural heritage on large scale to be conducted on various stages of particular projects, in order to distinguish the changes occurring in the socio-economic context of given venture. Our research project focusing on OFF Piotrkowska responds to the need to examine the impact of heritage, which was articulated in the report from our previous project. The inspiration to investigate the relations between heritage and creative industries came from a research undertaken in Germany ten years earlier. Its findings showed that cultural heritage plays an important role in the choice of location for new investment ventures, in particular in case of IT businesses as well as those with highly qualified personnel. In this context, interesting findings were also proposed by research project New Ideas Need Old Buildings, conducted by the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as by outcomes of the project Creative City Challenge. Industrial Heritage in Fostering Urban Creative Zones.
The fundamental research objective was to verify whether locating services provided by creative industries in a cultural heritage site creates a positive image of the place, and whether cultural heritage is an important factor in selecting location for creative industry business ventures. In this respect, the research focused on several specific issues investigated to provide answers to the following questions:
- what kind of factors determine the location of a creative industry business in a cultural heritage site?
- what is the significance (the role) of cultural heritage in the selection of such venue by representatives of creative industry?
- does locating creative industry services in a cultural heritage site make a positive impact on the image of the place?
The research project focused on the former cotton factory of Franciszek Ramisch, a building erected in the late 19th and early 20th century. The site is one of the epitomes of the city’s post-industrial heritage, which defines the industrial identity of the city of Łódź, an important element powerfully emphasised by contemporary strategies of revitalisation. Since 2011 the factory site has been the home to several creative industry entities. The place operates under the name OFF Piotrkowska and constitutes one of the city’s contemporary cultural and entertainment centres. The factory is located within the heart of the city – the entrance to the courtyard where the factory buildings are located leads from Piotrkowska Street, the historic city centre.
The project develops around a case study. The empirical foundation for the analysis of the socio-economic impact of cultural heritage was provided by both qualitative, as well as quantitative research. This means that we employed the so-called methodological triangulation. Methods of qualitative research were used for the analysis of attitudes and opinions of representatives of creative industries, while quantitative research methods for the diagnosis of opinions and characteristics of the customers of the services offered by creative sector entities based in OFF Piotrkowska. This methodological approach allowed us to develop a multifaceted and versatile analysis of particular issues. The research was conducted from February to April 2016.
- Research outcomes allow us to define OFF Piotrkowska as a revitalisation project and/or project of development of the creative sector; as an organised, top-down coordinated initiative whose development was determined by bottom-up initiative of the lessees.
- The decision of researched entities to locate their businesses in OFF Piotrkowska was motivated by two reasons: objective and subjective. The former are of economic nature and are related to the situation of external environment of given entity. They involve: infrastructure, preferential renting costs, and market factors related to the market position and recognisability of given venue. The latter, defined as subjective, are of a softer nature and relate to features of particular venue, the way it is being perceived and the way it functions. They involve: post-industrial identity of the place and its history, specific atmosphere of the place, its genius loci, the conditions of development favouring this kind of business venture, and social capital.
- At present, the way entities of creative sector in OFF Piotrkowska operate is determined by the following factors: a particular kind of “functional policy” formulated by the venue’s owner, coordinators of the project, and set by binding legal regulations, the context of the environment, the addressee of the entity’s services, as well as lifestyle changes, the context of social networks, and the context of the market.
- The location of creative sector services within a cultural heritage site has a positive impact on the image of the place. Indicators of this observation are attributes that make up the image of OFF Piotrowska, as listed by researched entities, as well as the tendency among the interviewed to perceive the place in terms of its creative aspects. By referring our findings to the question about the role of a cultural heritage site in social life we were able to indicate the significance of aspects such as: the place of concentration of social activities (social and business meetings and contacts), the place of consumption of services and products, the place of cultural activity, and its function as an image factor.
- The impact of cultural heritage is evident especially in the initial stage of operation of particular entities in OFF Piotrkowska (as well as the entire complex). However, locating one’s creative business in a cultural heritage site is not a factor that establishes its market position, as this is a result of particular strategies and processes of commercialisation, which are related to the entity’s adjustment to the conditions of market economy.