Measuring the value of culture: a report to the Department for Culture Media and Sport was written by Dr David O’Brien from Leeds Metropolitan University who carried out a 6-month fellowship that was jointly-funded by AHRC, ESRC and DCMS, from April to October 2010.
There has been recognition, both within central government and in parts of the publically funded cultural sector, of the need to more clearly articulate the value of culture.
As a result DCMS has established a partnership to co-ordinate a programme of work on measuring cultural value, and to provide leadership. DCMS is the lead partner, with the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), with Hasan Bakhshi (NESTA), Alan Freeman (GLA), John Davies (English Heritage), Rachel Smithies (Arts Council England) and Graham Hitchen as advisors.
The overall programme is aiming to take a role in leading a step-change in understanding and methodology regarding the measurement of the value of culture.
Measuring the value of culture: a report to the Department for Culture Media and Sport is the outcome of the first phase of this programme. The report explores the debates around cultural value, considering the meaning of culture and the reasons why valuation of culture is such a difficult task. The report considers several solutions to the problem of how to value culture, giving an overview of techniques from environmental and health economics, arts and humanities research and recent studies on subjective wellbeing. Overall the report concludes that, in the context of HM Treasury’s Green Book, the economic valuation techniques supported by the Green Book should be used by the cultural sector when articulating its value to central government.
In light of this conclusion the report makes three specific recommendations for DCMS and the sector:
DCMS, in consultation with the cultural sector, should create clear guidance on how to use the economic valuation (rather than economic impact) techniques already deployed across central government and recommended by HM Treasury.
DCMS should develop closer links with academics working in the area of cultural economics, to use existing and future studies as best practice guidance on the use of economic valuation for the cultural sector.
DCMS should use existing work in this area to explore the possibility of developing a multi-criteria analysis for cultural decisions, of the type recommended in DCLG’s Multi-criteria Analysis: a manual