Beyond bulldust, benchmarks and numbers: what matters in Australian culture

Arts Cultural industries Evaluation Arts funding Value capture Performance monitoring Public value Australia

This is an edited extract from the new book What Matters? Talking Value in Australian Culture. It is a longer read, at just under 2500 words.

When did culture become a number? When did the books, paintings, poems, plays, songs, films, games, art installations, clothes, and all the myriad objects that fill our lives and which we consider cultural, become a matter of statistical measurement?

When did the value of culture become solely a matter of the quantifiable benefits it provides, and the latter become subject to input–output analysis in what government budgets refer to as “the cultural function”? When did experience become data?

Perhaps a more important question is why did it happen, and why does it keep happening? Also, how does it happen? Culture is innate to being human. Thick books have been written describing culture’s myriad expressions and meanings. Culture has been around for as long as humanity itself. And the question of its value is not new.

Read the full article on The Conversation.

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