Arts value research

Questacon Woosh exhibit. Source: Visit Canberra.

Deborah Stone, Plugging the gaps in arts value research,  ArtsHub, 5 February 2015

Despite more than 500 studies, reviewers say better research is needed to convince policy-makers that strong arts activity generates happier, healthier and wealthier societies.

Arts Council England has identified more than 500 studies which together provide consolidated evidence of the value of the arts.

But a review of 90 of the strongest studies, entitled The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society found that more, and better, studies are needed to address evidence gaps and provide a robust argument for public funding of the arts.

‘We need to be smarter about making a more relevant case, more nuanced and sophisticated. The findings from this evidence review act as a catalyst for our thinking as we pursue new research to help develop a programme which paves the way in making a strong case for arts and culture,’ the reviewers concluded.

The studies analysed generated strong correlations between arts engagement and a huge range of health, educational, economic and social measures including literacy, mental health, physical recovery, social mobility and economic vitality.

But researchers struggled to show that the arts engagement was the cause of the improvements.

The reviewers acknowledge the enormous difficulty of isolating relationships between arts participation and engagement and other types of personal behaviours and life outcomes…

For more information on the evidence in the report, read ArtsHub’s story Consolidated evidence shows value of the arts.

For the full report, read The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society.