‘Cultural value’ is shaping up to become the issue to keep us cultural policy people busy for the foreseable future. After all, the very existence of a set of cultural policies is predicated on the notion of cultural value, and the belief in the social importance of its preservation and nurturing.
Yet, although how to articulate value is a central concern for cultural organisations in receipt of public funding (especially in times of austerity and the resulting funding cuts), the sector finds it difficult to have a serious and honest discussion on the issue. As a result, the value of the arts and culture tends to be discussed primarily in terms of economic value. Whilst, on the one hand, the predominance of economic valuation as a preferred decision making technique is the result of pressures coming from government – and the Treasury in particular – there is no doubt that the sector itself finds it hard to talk about the value of what they do without the recourse to economic arguments, and researchers too seem struggle with the value challenge.
The end result of this situation is that the public debate on the value of the arts and culture has been intellectually colonised by the discipline of economics, at the expense of the humanities and social sciences. This blog is part of a larger collaborative effort to reclaim the value debate from the ‘econocrats’ who operate on the basis of ‘the belief that there exist fundamental economic tests or yardsticks according to which policy decisions can and should be made’ (Self 1975, 5).
By bringing insights from both the humanities and social sciences, this blog will attempt to revitalise the cultural value debate, which is set to remain the biggest challenge for both cultural professional and policy researchers in the foreseeable future.
You can participate in the cultural value debate through this blog, by adding your comments to post or contributing a guest blog, or joining the discussion on twitter: The #culturalvalue Initiative has its own twitter account: @culturalvalue1. Follow and tweet us!
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You can find more information on The #culturalvalue Initiative on the ‘About’ page of this site.