Developing a Triage System to Determine Approaches to Sustaining Intangible Cultural Heritage

By Catherine Grant.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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High-profile agencies such as UNESCO continue to underscore the urgent need to support the sustainability of intangible cultural heritage across the world, in all its forms: from languages to music, theatre to dance. That task is enormous, and within any specific region or nation, even within a community, decisions often need to be made about where to best direct the limited funding, time, and resources for sustainability efforts. Drawing on precedent from the environmental sciences, this paper suggests a ‘triage system’ to help set priorities for implementing sustainability initiatives. The tripartite model assesses (1) the nature and severity of the threat to the cultural expression in question, (2) its perceived value in the community, and (3) the solvability of the problem. The system holds potential to assist stakeholders – communities themselves, as well as bodies that allocate funding and resources for cultural maintenance and revitalisation – to determine priorities for support, in turn leading to better deployment of resources and optimal outcomes for effort.

Keywords: Cultural Heritage Management, Cultural Sustainability, Intangible Cultural Heritage

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.11-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 891.018KB).

Dr. Catherine Grant

Research Fellow, Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Catherine Grant is Research Fellow at Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre. Her doctorate (Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia), which was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal, investigated the ways in which the field of language maintenance may inform approaches to support the sustainability of endangered music genres. Her academic publications on cultural sustainability include articles in the International Journal of Intangible Heritage, the Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, and the entry ‘Music Sustainability’ in Oxford Bibliographies Online. Her monograph ‘Music Endangerment’ is to be published by Oxford University Press in 2014.