A summary of the first part of the literature review

So far, a literature review of 11,000 words (26 pages), has been produced which focuses on the cultural sector’s metrics for success and value. A range of definitions has been proposed for ‘cultural value’ which also include economic and social value. The public, artists and organisations have all described the meaning of ‘cultural value’ in different ways. The public, for example, has indicated that the primary value of culture is quality of the artistic experience, which could ‘be judged by understanding the emotional response of the audience to a piece of work and the impact it has in terms of challenging perceptions and broadening horizons’ (Bunting, 2007, p. 16). The Arts Council, in contrast, has only offered a limited view of how it understands value.

Previously, the introduction of metrics for value in the arts has had predominantly economical and political reasons. As funders are trying to save money and arts budgets are cut, it becomes ever more important to create transparent guidelines which judge the success of cultural projects and organisations. This ‘need for justification’ and its resulting cross-cultural quantitative research has been accused of promotion dualism and a market-driven economy- catching the arts organisations between a rock and a hard place.

Despite a lack of rigorous methodology and framework, researchers and practitioners have used a range of tools to measure the impact of arts such as biometric research, post-event surveying, qualitative post-event research, and longitudinal or retrospective studies. One surprisingly large field has reviewed the use of arts projects in prison, primarily relying on observations and interviews. Currently there are several research projects which are trying to understand and create cross-cultural metrics, but none have been accepted by the cultural community (yet). Additionally, several longitudinal studies are measuring long term impact and extended value.

There is little documented co-production of metrics in the cultural sector and the Arts Council itself has lamented that there are ‘too few examples of collaboration across backgrounds, organisations, disciplines and perspectives’ (Arts Council England, 2013, p. 25). It could be argued that more collaboration between practitioners and funders is needed in order to produce coherent funding guidelines. Collaboration between practitioners are more common, but have been documented in a similarly limited fashion. Apart from the Digital R & D fund , few organisations explicitly encourage collaboration with a particular emphasis on co-created success criteria. As a third category, collaboration between the practitioners and the public is more common. However, the majority of this interaction is often restricted to the organisations asking the audience for feedback, rather than involving visitors in the creation of the success metrics themselves.

The following part of the literature review will try to understand how cultural organisations engage with their audience through social media and what kind of impact this feedback (and information gathering process) has on the culture of the organisations themselves.