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Chapter 6 Assessing the Value of the Arts

DOI: 10.23912/978-1-906884-20-8-1449

ISBN: 978-1-906884-20-8

Published: April 2011

Component type: chapter

Published in: Key Issues in the Arts and Entertainment Industry

Parent DOI: 10.23912/978-1-906884-20-8-1361



This chapter presents a general introduction to the contemporary concern of public value in relation to the arts, and particularly how this relates to the concept of social impact — an issue that has dominated the public funding agenda for the arts in the UK and beyond since the 1990s. What follows is an analysis of how the public value of the arts has been framed and assessed in recent times, and how this reflects adaptations to changes in the political climate. This analysis will be illustrated through a brief historical and conceptual overview of attempts to capture public value, followed by a review and critical evaluation of some models and frameworks that have attempted to capture the benefits of the arts. The challenges of assessing and measuring value will then be further discussed through case study on the National Theatre of Scotland’s production, Black Watch, to demonstrate the reductive nature of traditional models and point towards the need for developing more nuanced and reflexive approaches to assessing value, informed (and preferably led) by the practice of the art in question. We can call this a ‘situational’ approach to research. The chapter therefore argues for approaches informed by these principles. Drawing parallels with themes from Performance Studies, it suggests that greater account needs to be given to context and the conditions of the context, including its social formation and relations, which requires reflexivity and ethnographic analysis. The chapter concludes by reflecting on the dialectical conditions of value (as both instrumental and intrinsic), particularly emphasising the spatial dimension of practice, which emphasises that the arts are not just situated in a temporal context of ideological shifts, but are active players in the making of value as a practice of cultural production. This spatial dimension is brought into being as a practice of social relations through articulations of inter-subjective values, thereby broadening the dialogue on the subject of public value and considering the productive value of the arts as a wider practice of living.

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  • James Oliver (Author)
  • Ben Walmsley (Author)

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  • Ben Walmsley, University of Leeds (Editor)

Cite as

Oliver & Walmsley, 2011

Oliver, J. & Walmsley, B. (2011) "Chapter 6 Assessing the Value of the Arts" In: Walmsley, B. (ed) . Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers http://dx.doi.org/10.23912/978-1-906884-20-8-1449


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