Aims of the project
 

This project aims to test the value of a co-produced metric set and system of opinion-based data collection, including triangulation of large-scale data on how cultural organisations, their peers and the public assess the quality of work, which will allow DDD decisions to positively shape their cultural and commercial practices.

The research proposition is to provide a deeper, more critical understanding of the contexts, issues, conception and use of two main innovations of this project, i.e.

* Co-producing cultural value: researching the broader context of peer review, co-production and evaluation of cultural performance management
* Big data, better value? A critical examination of mechanisms for establishing and using big data sets in capturing cultural experiences, and driving data driven decisions / performance appraisal processes.

 

Background
 

The project is funded under the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts (ACE, AHRC and NESTA) Big Data Strand and runs from 1 September 2014 to 31 July 2015 (more information can be found at http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects/cornerhouse-et-al/).

This is a three-way collaboration between a research partner (ICP), a technology partner (Pracsys and Intelligence Agency) and a consortium of cultural organisations including: Cornerhouse and Home (Lead Partner), The Royal Exchange Theatre, Contact Theatre, The Manchester Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, Halle Concerts Society and the Imperial War Museum North.

This sector-led project aims to test the value of a co-produced metric set and system of opinion- based data collection, including triangulation of large-scale data on how cultural organisations, their peers and the public assess the quality of work, which will allow DDD decisions to positively shape their cultural and commercial practices. The project will create a standardised and aggregatable metric system which measures what the cultural sector believes are the key dimensions of quality. The project deals primarily with the measurement of intrinsic impact of arts on culture around a standardised set of definition and metrics.

The project also explores methods of combining intrinsic and instrumental impacts together in an on-line measurement framework – served to artists, stakeholders, decision-makers and the general public in real time so that it becomes essential to the everyday management of arts activity. If this goal is achieved, then the project also opens up the possibility to aggregate impacts across art forms, funding programs, geographies, time periods, or any other abstract characteristics.

The technologies applied to this project take advantage of recent advances in mobile applications and web-served databases. By gathering real-time intrinsic impact data from artists, peers and the public and combining it with traditional instrumental data on attendances, funding, box office, etc. and secondary demographics of audiences and communities of interest, it is possible to deliver comprehensive value analysis and reporting on a continuous basis. This has the potential to augment and possibly replace existing periodic application and acquittal processes for arts funding of all types.

The project, by harnessing the power of the network and technology platforms, aims to create high volume, high velocity data on the impact of our work that will have high credibility and relevance to the arts sector, our peers, publics, funders, and the policy and academic community. As part of this project, ICP has developed two strands of research enquiry that will form the scope of this post. Each strand includes a literature and evidence review, critical friends’ group and accompanying workshop, to explore the two main innovations of this project and provide a deeper, more critical understanding of the contexts and issues of their conception and use:

* Co-producing cultural value: researching the broader context of peer review, co-production and evaluation of cultural performance management
* Big data, better value? A critical examination of mechanisms for establishing and using big data sets in capturing cultural experiences, and driving data driven decisions / performance appraisal processes.

 

Research Questions
 

We are investigating a range of research questions:

November/ December: Strand 1: Co-producing cultural value
· What are the issues and problems with co-producing articulations of cultural value?
· What are the implications of triangulation, and what other examples of mixed methods might support best practice?
· What will levels of public willingness to feedback tell us about both the proposed approach and the wider public value offer of the arts in terms of engagement and connection?
· How do co-produced approaches to cultural performance management contribute to existing mechanisms of audience research and data collection?
· What can be learnt from contemporary initiatives featuring co-production and peer review in and outside the cultural sector?

January/ February: Strand 2: Big data, better value? 
· What can collection, analysis and presentation of big data offer organisations and audiences towards articulating cultural experience and its value?
· To what extent does the rhetoric of 'big data' generation produce preconceptions of validity and value among peers, organisations and audiences?
· What are the gaps in the data, and in the data's production and analysis, and how are these gaps understood and accounted for in a data-enabled appraisal of performance?
· What can the arts sector learn from other sectors’ approaches to big data generation, visualisation and analysis?

 

Partners
 

Our cultural partners are:

· Cornerhouse and Home (Lead Partner)
· The Royal Exchange Theatre
· Contact Theatre
· The Manchester Museum
· Manchester Art Gallery
· Halle Concerts Society
· Imperial War Museum North
· Whitworth Art Gallery
· Manchester Jazz Festival
· The Royal Opera House
· Chinese Arts Centre
· Octagon Theatre Bolton
· Oldham Coliseum Theatre
· Manchester Literature Festival