Artistic and cultural organisations are increasingly being required to justify the funding they receive through the direct benefits associated with their activities. This poses a challenge for the arts community as their primary drivers are not necessarily quantifiable (e.g. the delivery of high-quality artistic experiences, provoking thought or developing artistic ability). Despite significant progress in impact research, there remains a sense that the sector lacks robust methodologies for demonstrating the contribution of artistic and cultural activities to wider social and economic policy goals and the scale of their contributions.
This Social Impact study identifies and quantifies social benefits in the broader community that are generated through participation or attendance at artistic and cultural activities. These benefits are commonly referred to as instrumental impacts. They encompass different impact domains (economic, social, civic, cultural and environmental). This study is focused on social instrumental impacts. The pathways by which social impacts are realised has been captured in a predictive model that associates the social impacts with the activity (stimulus) that created it.
Recommended Evaluation Approach
Cultural value is a complex phenomenon with no current cross-disciplinary agreement on the best measurement approach. No method can fully capture the extent of the social benefits associated with culture however, the described techniques can help to elicit values for these.
More pragmatic monetary valuation approaches are supported by the current modes of policy decisionmaking and can practically be used for policy applications. Non-economic approaches can provide a good narrative to contextualise economic estimates of cultural value.
Based on an assessment of the relative advantages and disadvantages of existing measurement techniques, the approach recommended by the project team for valuing social impact into the future involves:
• The application of the generalised monetary values derived from high quality research on the impacts of arts participation and attendance on health, education and social capital
• Adjustment of the obtained monetary values by the extent to which a social outcome has been achieved for an individual through their experience of attending or participating, as measured through the standardised dimension statements relevant to health, education and social capital. These adjustments can be interpreted as the degree to which the full, monetary value is likely to have been achieved.