MEASURING CULTURAL VALUE
(PHASE 2)
Dr Claire Donovan, Brunel University
PRICELESS? A HOLISTIC APPROACH
TO ‘MEASURING’ CULTURAL VALUE
Dr Claire Donovan, Brunel University
The context

AHRC/ESRC Public Service Placement Fellowship in
partnership with Department of Culture, Media and
Sport

competitive research grant

based at DCMS

part of wider DCMS initiative
 Phase
One (O’Brien, 2010) concluded that the cultural
sector must use the concepts and tools of economics to
make the case for public funding
The very idea of measuring cultural value

highly contested territory

cultural value is either ...
 measureable
by assigning
monetary value, e.g.
 willingness
to pay
 choice analysis
 hedonic pricing
 or
‘intangible’ so cannot be
measured at all

two cultures of valuation:
 cynics
 sentimentalists
Two cultures of valuation
“What cynics you fellows are!”
“What is a cynic?”
“A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
“And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an
absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of a
single thing.”
- Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Act 3.
The approach

A ‘cynical-sentimental’ approach


mirrors debates in assessing research impact, especially in
humanities, creative arts and social sciences (Donovan 2008;
2011)
 resistance to economic reductionism
 ‘state of the art’ includes, and extends beyond, economic
measures
Empirical testing of measures
do these potentially add value to making policy decisions about
funding the cultural sector?
 include measures of supposedly ‘intangible’ benefits alongside
indicators drawn from cultural economics

The approach

Cross-sector credibility

Stakeholder involvement
 workshops
 the
‘Priceless?’ blog; Twitter

Stakeholder consensus

A ‘cynical-sentimental’ solution

Welcome to the measuring
cultural value debate which
began in 2003 …. I
wonder if you are trying to
reinvent the wheel?
Does the use of social media authentically represent
public engagement in the cultural value debate?
Phase Two conclusions

A holistic approach to ‘measurement’
 quantitative
(monetary)
 quantitative (non-monetary)
 qualitative indicators
 narrative approaches

Proportionality
 ‘measures’

to fit scale of enterprise and desired outcomes
Abandon ‘toolkit’
 sector
 what
guidance more valuable
‘measures’ to use and when
Next steps

Final report (Summer 2012)

Dissemination
final report online (and hard copy?)
 the ‘Priceless?’ blog
 academic conferences and seminars
 academic journal papers (with Dave O’Brien)
 SRAC
 Practitioner-oriented conferences and seminars


Can these novel approaches apply to ‘measuring’ other
areas of public investment?
Any questions?
[email protected]
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Measuring Cultural Value (phase 2)