Research Engagement and ImpactFlinders linking with arts and culture to explore their real value
"How to tell their friends they saw her" - The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci being photographed in the Louvre through a crowd. Photo copyright - Image Perception.
The Australian Research Council (ARC) recently announced that Professor Julian Meyrick, Professor Robert Phiddian, Professor Richard Maltby, and Dr Tully Barnett, from Flinders’ College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, have been awarded a Linkage Project grant for a Laboratory Adelaide project investigating the public value of culture.
This follows on from Laboratory Adelaide’s preceding Linkage success in 2014 on the same research theme, building important momentum.
The 2018 – 2021 project aims to transform the way artists and cultural organisations communicate the value of what they do to governments, and how governments understand the value of culture.
"Value and how to demonstrate it lies at the heart of every major challenge facing arts and culture in Australia today," says Robert.
"In the age of big data, the trend towards reducing culture to metrics puts the cultural sector in a position where its activities are easy to misrepresent, misunderstand or dismiss. This project brings together Flinders researchers, arts industry professionals and a government arts agency to develop more effective ways of communicating culture’s value where it counts: in the annual reporting, grant application and grant acquittal documents that pass between cultural practitioners, governments and funding agencies."
The Laboratory Adelaide team were awarded $180,437 for their project Meaningfully Communicating the Value of Arts and Culture Through Innovative Reporting Frameworks that will apply humanities-based, trans-disciplinary research methods, drawing on the skills and industry connections of Flinders creative arts researchers.
In particular, it will investigate two innovative, socially responsible corporate reporting frameworks – Sustainability Reporting and Integrated Reporting – and create a dedicated framework for culture. These principles-based frameworks provide a new model for how the cultural sector can report its value honestly, holistically and effectively. They embed metrics in a more meaningful style of communication. This will lead to simpler reporting that provides room to talk about what really matters, making South Australia an exemplar nationally for the proper evaluation of arts and culture.
The partner organisations are Arts South Australia, the government’s main cultural agency, and Festivals Adelaide, the peak body for the ten major festivals that contribute so much to the state’s economy, vibrancy and civic society.
"The project is the fruition of four-years of relationship building and will contribute to further collaboration between Flinders-based creative arts researchers and South Australian cultural policy-makers," says Julian.
"It’s a shift away from rules-based assessment processes, which don’t work well for culture, to principles-based evaluation that is dynamic, stakeholder-aware and socially engaged. Over the last four years, Laboratory Adelaide has generated a significant number of new concepts that can be used to reform reporting. Given its multi-dimensional nature, the evaluation of culture has to be structured around informed dialogue between government, funding agencies and artists. This project seeks to equip, enhance and focus that dialogue."