Centre for Cultural Value
We are building an understanding of the shared differences that arts, culture, heritage and screen make to people’s lives and to society. We want cultural policy and practice to be based on rigorous research and evalulation of what works and what needs to change.
In 2012 the Arts and Humanities Research Council launched the Cultural Value Project, led by Professor Geoffrey Crossick. The project took a fresh look at the subject of cultural value. It explored the question of why the arts and culture matter, and how we capture the effects that they have. Some 70 original pieces of work collectively make up the Cultural Value Project – a mixture of new research, critical reviews of the literature and specialist workshops. This work has probed, challenged and advanced our thinking about how better to understand and capture the value of culture.
The project and its subsequent report, Understanding the Value of Arts & Culture by Geoffrey Crossick and Patrycja Kaszynska, opened up a fresh approach to thinking about the value of culture. It highlighted the imperative to reposition first-hand, individual experience of arts and culture at the heart of enquiry into cultural value.
So, when we evaluate the work of the cultural sector perhaps we should not be concentrating on economic impact but rather the capacity for the individual to be economically innovative and creative. Perhaps not concentrating on urban regeneration driven by large new cultural buildings but rather the way small-scale arts assets and activities might help communities and neighbourhoods. And for health, not just concentrating on clinical arts therapies but also the link between arts engagement and supporting recovery from physical and mental illness. Something that has now been adopted by many organisations within the sector.
For all these reasons, thinking about cultural value needs to give far more attention to the way people experience their engagement with arts and culture, to be grounded in what it means to produce or consume arts and culture.
A second Cultural Value report in 2018, by Patrycja Kaszynska, identified that one of the biggest and most pressing challenges in understanding cultural value is creating communities of interest and practice across sectors. As a result, the report recommended that a new entity – a collaborative Centre for Cultural Value – was set up.