An economic valuation of access to cultural institutions: museums, theatres, and cinemas

Wiśniewska,A., Budziński, W., Czajkowski, M (2020) Journal of Cultural Economics 44(4), 563-587

Cultural institutions are the main beneficiaries of public funds for culture. However, cultural policies suffer from 'adhocism' in the administration of institutions, which are often publicly owned and receive little recognition of the benefits that society gains from their use. The aim of this study is to provide the measurement of the use value of access to cultural institutions. Based on the observed individual attendances and their costs, a two-stage budgeting model is employed to estimate the change in consumer surplus related to the loss of access to cinemas, museums, and theatres in Warsaw, Poland. It is the first non-market valuation of cinemas in the existing literature. The inclusion of institutions' entire markets helps to overcome the bias caused by the embedding effect and the availability of substitutes, which affects many single-site valuations. The estimated use values are compared with the subsidies received by the three groups of cultural institutions. Results reveal substantial benefits provided by cinemas, although cinemas are nearly excluded from the circulation of public support. The estimated use value is enough to justify subsidies for both highly subsidised sectors of museums and theatres. The estimation of use values serves as a starting point for the evaluation of the use of public resources.


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