Talking Points, Arts Value Forum
4 min read

Talking Points, Arts Value Forum

Michael Chappell, Managing Director Culture Counts. Wednesday July 26th 2017, Canberra Theatre Centre.

  1. The arts needs an evidence-based value story. Without it, resources allocated to the arts will always be under threat.
  2. The plural of anecdote is not data. Investment decisions are ultimately made on data. 
  3. Using standard language and metrics contributes to a sector-wide view that forms the basis of a holistic value story for the arts.
  4. We are not measuring whether audiences liked an artwork or were satisfied by their experience. This doesn’t help organisations learn and grow. We are measuring impact and quality across a broad variety of areas, including innovation, challenge, risk, meaning and relevance.
  5. We are not just measuring cultural impact – there are also metrics for capturing the social, civic, economic and environmental impact of cultural activities (or any publically funded activity). This includes public opinions and data facts. All metrics sit within a broad outcomes framework, contributing to a comprehensive value story. 
  6. Evaluation is not about scorecards – it is about questioning, educating, enquiring. A strong critical culture encourages artists to push their art to new heights and increases engagement. Evaluation helps us improve – we shouldn’t be afraid of it.
  7. Evaluating gives a broad spectrum of audiences, communities and peers the opportunity to provide their thoughts and emotions after experiencing artwork. Gathering diverse opinions can open up a rich dialogue and more interesting, informed exchanges about meaning, relevance and impact. Organisations are also encouraged to carry out self and peer assessment in Culture Counts, generating multi-point subjectivity.
  8. We recommend using a mix of rigorous metrics and rich anecdotes, so that the numbers sit alongside descriptive feedback. Other data should also give context to your results (e.g. input and output data such as location, resources used, numbers of attendees/participants).
  9. We recognise that not all audiences or experiences are the same. Big data helps us learn more about our audiences and understand how and why different contexts shape experience. Examining data from diverse geographies and ethnicities means that patterns can be identified that help us learn more about the impact of culture on different parts of our communities.
    -Metadata tags are applied to all evaluations within the Culture Counts platform, classifying them by location, artform and other pieces of information that give context to the data.
    -By default, all surveys include standard demographic questions (age, gender, postcode) and many organisations also choose to include questions about identity and prior experience so they can better comprehend and classify their audiences.
  10. An evaluation strategy should be built around the key objectives of the organisation. We help organisations to choose and align metrics that best reflect their unique mission – the key things that they want to achieve from a cultural, social, sector development perspective. This helps them demonstrate where their impact is greatest, identify how they can improve, and makes reporting a much simpler process.
  11. What does the future look like? We can see a time where arts and culture takes evaluation seriously; there is a big data culture; both public and private investors understand the impact of the arts and their investments; and an environment is created for arts and culture to flourish.
About the author
Michael Chappell is a CEO at Culture Counts.