Creating space for collective learning

Performers on a stage looking up at multiple spotlights
09 May 2024

Evaluation reports in the cultural sector can be packed full of learning. Emma McDowell explores how we might unearth this existing knowledge.

Joining the dots for better cultural policy

Light installation in Leeds
14 Feb 2024

As Anna Kime begins working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority, she explores how integrated data and evaluation can aid decision making and ensure the UK’s cultural and creative sectors continue to be world-leading. 

Has beauty become a dirty word?

14 Dec 2023

Artist Sarah Hunter, physicist Rox Middleton and philosopher Lucy Tomlinson spotlight what they learnt from spending a year exploring the cultural value of beauty. 

Data used to measure degree value is 'unfair' to arts graduates

A costume being fitted to a model
24 Jul 2024

A report examining the value of creative graduates has called for the government to overhaul the metrics it uses to analyse higher education outcomes.

Croydon: 'Culture is now firmly on the agenda'

Photo of launch team for This is Croydon
17 Jul 2024

Stephanie Wilson and Honey Gabriel reflect on Croydon's year as London Borough of Culture 2023 and look ahead to the borough’s cultural future.

Fail, fail again, fail better

Launch of Failspace
12 Jun 2024

Failure is part of life. We all know this, creative folk perhaps better than most, says Katie Villa. But how can we learn to fail well?

ACE: Sharing concerns won't harm NPO funding chances

Image or ACE webpage with headline Resources and reporting
31 Jan 2024

In last week’s edition of Arts Professional, a group of Chief Executives of National Portfolio Organisations expressed their frustrations to Arts Council England about increasingly onerous reporting requirements. Here is ACE's response. 

Sector support charities merge after loss of ACE funding

Audience in theatre. Image depicts backs of heads and stage in background
23 Nov 2023

The Audience Agency and Culture24, who were both part of ACE's National Portfolio until they lost funding in April this year, have joined forces.

What’s the value of digital arts and culture?

06 Nov 2023

If we can find a shared language and inclusive approach to evaluating digital arts and culture, we can tell a better story about the difference it’s making, write Rosanna Chianta and John White.

EXCLUSIVE: ACE drops reporting requirements over data platform glitches

The Illuminate online portal
13 Sep 2023

Amid sector concerns about new data platform Illuminate, Arts Council England says NPOs will not need to provide box office or audience survey data until next year.

Making evaluation valuable

An actor stands in front of a tent surrounded by water
12 Sep 2023

As the Centre for Cultural Value launches a free online evaluation course, Dawn Cameron explains how evaluation can help organisations understand the real value of what they do, not just what others want to hear.

Projects receive £3.1m to measure value of culture

12 Sep 2023

Six projects that aim to evaluate the value of culture and heritage to society have been announced as part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Culture and Heritage Capital Programme.

Founded in 2021, the programme assesses the social and economic benefits of culture and heritage weighed against their costs with the aim of providing the government with guidance on how to spend taxpayers’ money.

The latest projects include a case study for local and regional culture-led initiatives and levelling up focusing on National Museums Liverpool Waterfront Transformation, led by the University of Liverpool, which will receive £420,657.

Another study led by the University of Portsmouth will receive £359,015 to assess the economic and cultural value of digital culture and heritage assets.

Each of the six projects will receive between £359,015 and £528,825 financed by a £3.1m research funding round from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and DCMS.

The project leaders will collaborate with stakeholders, including Historic England, National Museums Liverpool and the National Trust.

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson said it’s important to measure the benefits of arts and culture to people's lives “to make the most effective decisions to maximise their potential – especially where taxpayers’ money is being invested.”

AHRC Executive Chair Professor Christopher Smith said, “The culture and heritage sectors are a vital part of our economy, but we do not have a clear or agreed set of criteria for measuring all their relevant benefits, including the undoubted impacts of intangible benefits. This has a significant impact on policymaking.

“This project will help give us a better basis on which to evaluate the contribution of culture and heritage to society."

Cultural encounters of the empathic kind

My Leeds 2023 Neighbourhood Hosts programme. People stood on a balcony waving and smiling.
12 Jul 2023

Driven by funder requirements and sector expectations, evaluation can feel top-down. Stephen Welsh argues for a more people-centred approach which is empathetic, inclusive and unassuming.

Concern over 'lack of representation' in creative health research

Young women are taking part in an art session together
31 May 2023

Study into value of culture in relation to health and wellbeing warns of 'concerning gap' in evidence base.

Lewisham, London's Borough of Culture engaged majority of local schools

04 Apr 2023

Lewisham starts work on a cultural strategy following successful stint as London Borough of Culture focused on young people, community and cultural activism.

AHRC announces new hosts for Creative PEC

King's Walk on Newcastle University's campus, looking towards the Arches with the Student Union building on the left
09 Mar 2023

Centre producing research and policy recommendations on arts, culture and the creative industries will be split across two hubs in England, one in the North and one in the South.

Birmingham 2022 Festival 'delivered on inclusivity', study finds

31 Jan 2023

Evaluation report finds festival made inclusive practice integral to its programme, despite previous claims it had shut out creatives from an ethnic minority background.

Why we need to use the F word in evaluation

“Failures” are important. A cartoon depicts two people speaking. One says, “According to their report everything is awesome.” The other replies, “Yeah that worries me too.”
26 Jan 2023

Talking of failure can feel uncomfortable and we often avoid it when carrying out evaluation. But, as Susanne Burns argues, being open about failure can be key to learning. 

Evaluating large-scale cultural events

A group of young people dancing outside in front of a building as part of Birmingham 2022
18 Jan 2023

With the evaluation findings from Birmingham 2022 published this week, and those from Coventry City of Culture forthcoming, Katy Raines and Jonothan Neelands have been reflecting on what’s been learned and what it means for the sector.

Why better data is vital for future-proofing the cultural sector

Light projection
23 Nov 2022

Why do we struggle to convey the cultural sector’s significant impact? There’s no easy answer but an obvious solution lies in harnessing quantitative and qualitative data, argues Ben Walmsley.


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