Financing models digital cultural heritage
Financieringsmogelijkheden en -modellen voor de digitalisering van cultureel erfgoed
01/01/2009 - 30/06/2009
Has been finalized

As part of its policy preparing activities in light of digitisation, online distribution and digital archiving of cultural heritage, the Department of Culture, Youth, Sports and Media of the Flemish Community has commissioned scientific research into financing opportunities and models for digitisation in Flanders. The research was assigned to IBBT-SMIT.

The main goal of the study was to evaluate potential financing models for the expensive process of digitising cultural heritage in Flanders. An important point of departure was that digitisation has to be seen as encompassing far more than the mere conversion from analogue to digital formats: a life cycle approach is required. This digitisation life cycle can be divided into four essential phases: the pre-digitisation phase or phase of content selection, the actual (narrow sense) digitisation phase, and two post-digitisation phases, one centred on internal data management and preservation, another on distribution and access. In light of valorisation and funding issues, the distinction between both post-digitisation phases is critical.

The study looked into the opportunities and limitations of various forms of direct and indirect public funding, private support and mixed (public-private) financing. First, a broader overview of potential financing models was given: subsidies, public-private partnerships, employment programmes, content-based revenue models, etc. This overview was based on an extensive literature study and European digitisation case studies. The specific Flemish context with its digitisation progress on the one hand and its financing traditions on the other hand, also mapped through desk research, was then used to evaluate the feasibility of the financing models. A concluding expert panel discussion was conducted to evaluate the findings.

In the conclusions of the study, an integrated financing approach was brought forward, listing viable financing models for each phase of the digitisation life cycle. The conclusions indicate that sustainable financing implies a mix of funding sources, but they nonetheless stress the continuous importance of subsidies and the limited applicability of revenue models related to charging for content.

(Picture by klynslis under a Creative Commons license)