the national website of Interpretation Canada


  IC is the national voice for interpretation in Canada.
We advocate for recognition of our profession and defend it when threatened.

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Benefits of Interpretation

by Sue Ellen Fast

The benefits of interpretation and education services can be understood from several perspectives.
These services are provided for their utility value (e.g. encouraging support for an organization’s programs or reducing visitor impacts) and to meet community service obligations to inform the public about its heritage assets.

Heritage interpretation contributes to an organization’s mandate and goals as they relate to:

1. foster proper use
2. minimize impacts to fragile resources
3. develop advocates and support for site
4. minimize visitor/neighbourhood conflicts
5. reduce the need for regulation and rescue
6. encourage sympathetic management of neighboring properties
7. reduce enforcement required (e.g., party-calming presence)
8. build support for capital projects, solicit donations, or revenue stream
Beyond Site or Area:
1. foster conservation ethic
2. preserve and pass along our collective memory
3. produce citizens who value natural and/or cultural heritage generally
4. develop advocates and support for the values under management
5. foster sustainability (e.g., addressing global warming, consumer patterns, consideration for future generations)
1. be visible presence in the community, including mass media
2. improve image of agency
3. inform about purpose and nature of agency activities
4. develop advocates and support for agency activities
5. foster public participation in management
6. broader range of people who use or participate in agency initiatives
1. provide visitors with needed information
2. provide a better understanding of what to expect
3. provide enjoyment
4. provide recreation
5. invite visitors to develop their knowledge, understanding or skills
6. provide visitors an opportunity to share their knowledge or skills
7. visitors feel welcomed, respected and supported in their learning
8. inspire and add perspective to their lives
9. reduce visitor safety incidents
10. provide explanation of current resource management practices
Tourism Industry:
1. attract visitors to area or region
2. facilitate economic development through new jobs and businesses
3. allow industry operators to develop new products around interpretation
4. meet the increasing demand for educational visitor experiences
5. provide experiences that ensure positive word-of-mouth advertising and/or repeat visitation
6. provide as substitute experience for places that are fragile and/or difficult to visit, e.g., caves, sacred sites; and/or topics that are impossible to experience directly, e.g., disease, history
Local Community:
1. identify and/or celebrate locally significant places and stories
2. foster active citizens contributing to community vitality and sense of place by holding them up as examples
3. re-establish healthy relationship between nature and culture
4. contribute to community sustainability and/or development
5. promote exploration, questioning, new experiences and/or life-long learning
6. foster healthy child development (such as per Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods")
7. assist citizens in realizing other health goals
8. assist citizens in realizing other social goals
Democracy and Citizenship:
1. celebrate or commemorate, aimed at deepening bonds of belonging and identity
2. contribute to shared citizenship, pride and understanding
3. cultivate self-awareness to transmit a legacy to future generations