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July 5, 2007

Lingering on leisure

I wrote in May about a convening at The Getty Center in Los Angeles, focusing on trends in leisure time and their implications for cultural organizations. In addition to the weblog conversation spinning off from the convening, the event hosts (Getty Leadership Institute and National Arts Strategies) have just posted a summary of the event (which I wrote, with their review and input).

Here's a teaser from the report (available for download in PDF format):

Within these facts, trends, and insights, the conference participants narrowed their focus to the nonprofit and public "cultural industries" - a small but significant sector intended to foster, produce, present, and preserve the expressive and interpretive lives of human society. They defined an industry infrastructure often heavy on the "hardware" of cultural experience -- facilities, objects, technical production spaces -- but thin on the human and financial resources required to make full and adaptive use of that hardware. They expressed a general sense of growing disconnect between professional, established cultural organizations and the lives of their communities. And many wondered out loud whether our perceptions of decline in cultural participation were due to a flawed boundary to our analysis.

Read the rest at your leisure (if you have any).

Posted by ataylor at 1:22 PM | Comments (4)

July 6, 2007

Measuring multiple impacts

Most now recognize that economic impact studies of arts and culture are useful in arguments for public funds, but extraordinarily narrow and flawed in building understanding of actual impact. The Impacts08 project in Liverpool is working to add breadth and rigor to the measurement process, and the range of variables to be assessed.

The five-year study is tracking a full range of variables prior to, during, and after Liverpool's yearlong designation as European Capital of Culture in 2008. The designation by the European Union is an opportunity for a region to showcase its cultural life, and reframe its international brand as a cultural center.

By benchmarking before the event, and measuring the same indicators in the years during and after, the study hopes both to evaluate the broader impact of such cultural effort, and refine the toolset for other communities to do the same. The project's baseline and benchmark reports were posted in March. Among the measures and "indicator clusters" are six main categories (described in detail here):

  • Economic Impacts and Processes
  • The City's Cultural System
  • Cultural Access and Participation
  • Identity, Image and Place
  • Physical Infrastructure and Sustainability of the City
  • The Philosophy and Management of the Process

Here's hoping the researchers and policy-makers involved can broaden our larger conversation beyond traditional economics.

Thanks to Colin for the link.

Posted by ataylor at 8:59 AM | Comments (2)

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