This interactive blog seeks to stimulate discussion across the cultural sector on the very idea of measuring cultural value. Dr Claire Donovan is an academic working at DCMS to write a report on this issue, and wants to know what you think. Can the value of culture be measured by government in monetary (or other) terms, or is it ‘priceless’?
LORD DARLINGTON: What cynics you fellows are!
CECIL GRAHAM: What is a cynic?
LORD DARLINGTON: A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
CECIL GRAHAM: 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 (1893) Lady Windermere’s Fan, Act III]
Building on Phase One of this research, I am adopting a ‘cynical-sentimental’ approach that attempts to balance the need to account for spending public money with a broad vision of the public value that the cultural sector creates.
Why an interactive blog?
The aim of this interactive blog is to consult widely with the cultural sector on issues and concerns surrounding ‘measuring cultural value’, especially the public value of the arts, heritage, libraries and museums.
There will be themed discussions over the coming weeks, covering hot topics such as the very idea of measuring cultural value, the difference between public and private value, and whether different rules should apply to cultural sector funding decisions. I am sure you will let me know of other important issues this blog can discuss.
Your views will help to guide the direction of my research. I hope that this blog will provide a novel, ‘cynical-sentimental’ slant on these issues.
Topic One: On the very idea of measuring cultural value
To get the ball rolling, what are your views on the very idea of measuring cultural value? Is ‘measure’ the right word? What is ‘culture’ anyway? And what does ‘value’ mean and to whom?
DCMS has a finite budget, and not everything can be funded, so how should DMCS go about deciding what to support with public money? Is the economic case the bottom line?
Also, what measures does your organisation use? What measures do you think DCMS should use (or not use)? Is anything important being missed?
Now, over to you …
Use the comment section below to share your views on these questions or other aspects of measuring cultural value.
Dr Claire Donovan is a Reader in the Health Economics Research Group at Brunel University, London. ‘Measuring Cultural Value (Phase 2)’ is jointly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.