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What value culture?

Woman dance

Ben Walmsley, Director of the Centre for Cultural Value, introduces our online festival of ideas

How do people define culture and its value to them, and how does that impact on our society; the way we learn, play, grow, live and interact? In this uncertain climate, does our engagement with arts, heritage, culture and screen have more value than ever before?

These are just some of the questions we will be posing this November, as we launch the Centre for Cultural Value’s free online festival of ideas from 2–13 November.

Over ten days, we will explore, discuss and debate these questions with some of the leading organisations, academics and practitioners in the sector, as well as bringing fresh voices into the conversation. We’ll invite active participation and collaboration from those working in and around the arts, cultural, heritage and screen sectors, including practitioners, researchers and policymakers.

Who are we?
The Centre for Cultural Value is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England. Our mission is to build a shared understanding of the differences that culture makes to people’s lives and to society more broadly. In our scoping events and surveys, we heard about skills gaps in evaluation and about the lack of proportionality and sharing that holds back sector learning. We also identified a strong demand for research to be made more relevant and available. So we aim to achieve our mission by making existing research into cultural value more accessible and by re-exploring who and what evaluation is for, and how it is carried out.

Why now?
Whilst debates about cultural value are as old as the hills, as a society we’re navigating our way through a global pandemic. Never has it been more important to better understand and articulate the role that arts and culture plays in our lives and to strengthen the evidence base so we can shape policy development.

The Festival
In partnership with many of the UK’s most exciting cultural practitioners and organisations, our festival of ideas marks the start of the Centre’s delivery phase. This is the first season of free events hosted by the Centre for Cultural Value and it offers an exciting opportunity for us to fully introduce ourselves and the breadth of our work to those working in the cultural sector, in cultural policy and in cultural value research.

Over the two weeks we will ignite critical conversations, debate the development of cultural policy across the UK, and host open and practical workshops. We will exchange current ideas and research related to themes such as cultural participation, digital engagement, and culture, health and wellbeing.

We hope as many of you as possible will be able to join us over the two-week programme and we very much look forward to exchanging ideas with you online.

Image: To the Beat of a Different Drum, Yorkshire Dance. Photo: David Lindsay

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