Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: AHRC cultural value project

The Cultural Value Project looked at why the arts and culture matter, and how we capture their effects. The various components that make up cultural value were identified, and the methodologies and evidence that might be used to evaluate these components were considered.

Duration:
2012 to 2015
Partners involved:
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Arts Council England, The Audience Agency, University of Liverpool, University of Sheffield, University of York and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

The scope and what we're doing

The Cultural Value Project looked into the question of why the arts and culture matter, and how we capture their effects.

Why we're doing it

The project had two main objectives. The first was to identify the various components that make up cultural value. The second was to consider and develop the methodologies and the evidence that might be used to evaluate these components of cultural value.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Project report

Understanding the value of arts and culture – The AHRC Cultural Value Project  presents the outcomes of the project which looked at how we think about the value of the arts and culture to individuals and to society. This report sets out the often striking findings of the project’s work.

Scoping report

Following on from the project report, a 2018 project involved consultations with 200 people from the arts and culture sector, funding organisations, the voluntary sector, academia, and policy. It identified that one of the biggest and most pressing challenges in understanding cultural value is creating communities of interest and practice across these sectors.

As a result, the report recommended that a new entity be set up – the collaborative Centre for Cultural Value.

Read the Cultural Value Scoping Project Report.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Research activities

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. You can find a list of them in the project report – Understanding the value of arts and culture. This work has probed, challenged and advanced our thinking about how better to understand and capture the elusive phenomenon that is called cultural value. The authors of the report have also drawn on a wide range of literature from the UK and internationally.

The result is among the most extensive, wide-ranging and challenging of attempts to grasp the difference to individuals, society and the economy that engagement with arts and culture makes.

Centre for cultural value

Following the scoping report, the national research centre has been created, based at the University of Leeds. The core partners are The Audience Agency, University of Liverpool, University of Sheffield, University of York and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. The centre is funded by AHRC, Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation over five years.

Find out more about the Centre for Cultural Value.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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