Traditionally, the definition of assets describes any item of economic value, which is owned by an individual or organisation, especially that which could be converted to cash.
Examples are cash, securities, office equipment, real estate, a car and other property. From a financial accounting perspective, assets are divided into two classes, tangible and intangible.
Tangible assets contain various subclasses, including current assets and fixed assets. Current assets include inventory, while fixed assets include such items as buildings and equipment. Intangible assets are nonphysical resources and rights that have a value to the individual creator or organisation because they give them some kind of advantage in the market place.
Examples of intangible assets are goodwill, copyrights, trademarks, patents, software programmes. On a traditional balance sheet, assets are usually classified according to the ease with which they can be converted to cash.
These asset categories have been devised for enterprises that are trying to maximise financial profits and/or shareholder’s financial wealth. Cultural and creative practitioners often have a bigger purpose, which is to maximise their impact multi-dimensionally across the social, cultural and the economic spheres.
Recognising the limitations of these traditional financial asset categories and inspired by the Asset Based Community Development approach which focuses on assessing and building on the strengths of individuals and communities, our definition seeks to open doors to new ways of thinking about the assets held by cultural and creative practitioners.
Our belief is that by expanding the traditional definition of intangible assets to include those assets that can be described as having social and cultural value and which may or may not have economic value which can be converted to cash, will help individual cultural and creative practitioners tell better stories about the value they create and the impact they have.
The assets we are seeking to identify and define are not ‘owned’ in the traditional sense by individual cultural creative practitioners but exist as a result of being co-produced with the wider community. Their value to the individual or organisation lies principally in the fact that they offer an advantage in how effectively vision, mission and creative practice are delivered and how the impact of that effectiveness maintains and attracts new resources both financial and non-financial.
Whilst these assets are not represented on a traditional balance sheet, they can be utilised and or deployed effectively in pursuit of a sustainable livelihood.
In so doing they will not only affect the health of the traditional balance sheet, but open up understanding of the presence of the more holistic balance sheets held by cultural and creative practitioners, ones which articulate a different kind of growth of a different kind of wealth – that of the cultural and creative vitality of our communities. You can see how to develop this understanding through the Alternative Balance Sheet we are inventing.
But first of all, have a look at the Asset Map we have created and think about how many of them are relevant to your practice.
When you’ve done that, use this journaling tool to reflect on what emerged for you from that process.
Journaling is a great way to connect to a deeper sense of self-knowing and to begin acting from that place. It can help you heighten your sense of self-knowing, enable a shift in the state of your attention to a deeper level and create new awareness and new questions about ‘who you are and ‘what you want to do with the rest of your life’. You’ll find opportunities to do journaling exercises throughout this web platform.