Why we must measure cultural value economically
For the arts to be in receipt of public money, so it must be economically accountable for what it spends. This keynote speech delivers, in no uncertain terms, why the cultural sector must be come better at measuring its worth including its monetary value for funders, and furthermore the public.
There is perhaps no other relationship that is more fraught with tension, more hotly contested, in cultural policy than economic and cultural value. But is there is one thing that everyone agrees on, it is the need for more sophisticated public funding decisions for culture - ones that are better understood by cultural institutions and the public.
This calls for a much more rigorous attempt to value culture than has been the case to date. The Swiss economist, Bruno Frey, makes a distinction between 'economics of culture' and the 'economic approach to culture'. Economic impact is a creature of the economics of culture. It refers to the measurement of the employment, output and productivity consequences of cultural activities. Properly executed, economic impact studies are essential for economic development agencies that see culture as a locus for, or as an instrument of, economic development. Valuation is the subject of the economic approach to culture. It should be important both to cultural institutions which want to asses their return on 'investment.'