Research projects

Art Smarts

Art smartsA bi-monthly newsletter from the Australia Council research team

Art Smarts will keep you up to date with published research, commentary and issues relevant to the arts from sources across Australia and overseas. View the current issue below or browse the archive of previous editions using the left-hand menu.

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ART SMARTS August 2014

Welcome to the August issue of Art Smarts

This edition we highlight new work on the value and impact of the arts – a topic that is as fascinating as it is contested.  We feature Alan Brown’s literature review Understanding the Value and Impacts of Cultural Experiences, an erudite overview of research on the ‘intrinsic’ value of cultural experiences.  The review covers a lot of territory and also puts the Australia Council’s Artistic Vibrancy Framework into the international context.  We have recently launched the latest plank of this framework - our Community Relevance Guide which provides ways for arts organisations to increase their impact by creating meaningful connections with communities.  A group of arts organisations in England, supported by Arts Council England, are piloting an approach to collecting and analysing public value data inspired by the work of the Department for Culture and the Arts of Western Australia. This launched last month with an online tool Culture Counts. Finally,  you might have already seen our Arts in daily life survey which was launched recently – which found that 85% of Australians think that the arts make for a richer and more meaningful life – now that is impact ! 

I hope you enjoy this edition.

Bridget Jones
Director, Research and Strategic Analysis 



Top reading

Understanding the value and impacts of cultural experiences 
Arts Council England and Wolf Brown, July 2014

Arts Council England commissioned consultants Wolf Brown to undertake a literature review to survey perspectives on the perennially difficult question of how to best measure the value and impact of cultural experience and the intrinsic benefits of the arts. The resulting report is now available for download. 

Click here for more >

Community Relevance Guide 
Australia Council for the Arts, May 2014

Community Relevance is one of the key elements of the Council’s Artistic Vibrancy framework. The Australia Council launched the online Guide in May 2014 to provide arts organisations with resources to encourage reflection and action on their connections and relevance to communities. The Guide provides questions to inspire reflection by arts organisations, as well as examples of arts organisations that are reflecting and taking action on Community Relevance across their artistic practice, activities and operations. The broader goal is to encourage a shared understanding in the arts sector for about the relevance of the arts to the wider community as vital to art as well as to organisational and sector sustainability. 

Click here for more >

Quality Metrics Pilot and Culture Counts platform
Arts Council England, May 2014

The Quality Metrics Pilot is a Manchester-based research project working with arts organisations to develop a standard set of indicators of quality across the arts and culture, measured through feedback from peers and the public and self-assessment. The pilot was inspired by the Public Value Measurement Framework developed by the Department for Culture and the Arts (DCA) of Western Australia (WA). The pilot was supported by Arts Council England who have published a research report and video on findings and lessons learnt. The next step for this project is an England-wide pilot, testing a digital platform for collecting and measuring data, Culture Counts – the same platform being tested by DCA WA. 

Click here for more on the Quality Metrics Pilot >
Click here for more on the England-wide pilot >
Click here for the Culture Counts platform website >

Arts in Daily Life: Australian participation in the arts
Australia Council for the Arts, May 2014

The Australia Council has released findings from the 2013 arts participation survey, Arts in Daily Life. This research builds on findings from the 2009 survey, More than Bums on Seats to show public perception of the arts and how arts engagement has evolved over the last four years. The nationally representative survey of 3000 Australians paints a positive picture. Some key findings include:

  • Australians believe that the arts enrich our lives.
  • Australians value Indigenous arts and there are great opportunities to grow audiences.
  • The arts are important in the lives of Australian children.
  • More Australians are engaging with the arts – especially by creating art themselves and engaging online. 
The findings provide a sound base of evidence to lead and support conversation and decision making in the sector, particularly about engagement and audience development.

Click here to read more >


Funding and policy

Digital R&D for the Arts in Scotland - Case Studies
Nesta, May 2014

The Digital Research and Development Fund for Arts and Culture, Scotland is a joint venture between NESTA and Creative Scotland, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) formed to support arts organisations and cultural institutions to develop strategies for audience engagement and to create new revenue streams using digital technologies. This series of case studies examines the digital initiatives funded by this project. One example is the Bookspotting app developed by Publishing Scotland, which tells people about Scottish books and authors linked to their location.

Click here for more > 

Cultural Funding by Government, Australia, 2012-13
Australian Bureau of Statistics, May 2014

This ABS report looks at cultural funding (consisting of Arts and Heritage) by governments in Australia. Total cultural funding rose by 1% in 2012-13 to just over $7 billion. Australian Government expenditure on Arts was $1,756.2m and the State and territory governments’ was $843.8m. 

The ABS Arts figures include large funding categories not included in the Australia Council definition of the arts (such as radio and television services) and do not include funding for Art Museums. By the Australia Council’s definition of the arts, 2012-13 Australian Government funding was $418.6m, which was a 2.2% decrease since 2011-12, and State and Territory government arts funding decreased by 1.4% to $915.7m.

Performing arts venues were the highest arts funding category for the state and territory governments ($270.1m), although these saw an 8.2% decrease in spending in 2012-13 after increases each year since 2009-10.  

Click here to read more >

Creating an Age of Giving: Conclusions from the Growing Giving Parliamentary Inquiry 
Charities Aid Foundation Parliamentary Inquiry on Growing Giving, June 2014

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has published the findings of its Parliamentary Inquiry on Growing Giving in the United Kingdom. The Growing Giving Inquiry looked at the culture of charitable giving in the UK over three different life stages - education, work and retirement – and makes recommendations aimed at “inspiring individuals and breaking down barriers to engagement, as well as creating opportunities, encouragement and incentives to give”. The recommendations highlight that no one institution alone can create the sustainable cultural shift required to change a downward trend in giving to charities in the UK.

Click here for more >

Review of Visual Arts – Draft Report 2014
Creative New Zealand, June 2014

Creative New Zealand is the New Zealand arts funding body and it is in the process of reviewing each area of artform practice to ensure that their roles, responsibilities and support meet changing needs. This draft report summarises how Creative New Zealand is currently supporting the development of the visual arts and their proposed approach for 2015 to 2019. Some of the changes proposed include: supporting greater levels of collaboration between institutions; increasing the leverage of existing infrastructure for visual arts; and a variety of options for the Toi Tōtara Haemata (Arts Leadership) program to increase its relevance.

Click here to read more >

Review of Craft and Object Art - Draft Report 2014  
Creative New Zealand, June 2014

This review describes the current support for craft and object art by Creative New Zealand, and proposed changes for 2015-2019. It is based on a review of the changing needs of the sector and how Creative New Zealand can support those, research with key organisations, and a focus group with key members of the sector. The review highlights a number of challenges in the future of the craft and object art sector such as the use of digital platforms and technologies and the impact on the value of hand-made solid objects; closure of specialist craft courses; and traditional skills not being passed down across generations. How the sector can make the most of opportunities and how Creative New Zealand is proposing to support the sector are discussed further in the review.

Read more here >

Civil Society National Centre for Excellence: Consultation and Engagement  
Civil Society National Centre for Excellence, June 2014

Planning is well underway for the establishment of the Civil Society National Centre for Excellence in Australia. The Centre’s stated purpose will be to ‘enhance the institutions of civil society, including through collaboration, education, training, representation and advocacy for the sector’. A stakeholder consultation period is now in its second phase. More information including a Draft Models Report is available on the Centre’s website.

Click here for more >

Philanthropic Journeys
Pilotlight, June 2014

This research report Philanthropic Journeys identifies new trends in the relationship between charities, volunteers, business and individual donors. It explores the relationship between volunteerism and the propensity to donate, and how non-profit organisations can better understand their volunteer and donor bases. Pilotlight is a UK-based strategic planning consultancy firm specialising in the charity and social enterprise sector.

Click here for more >

Meeting of Cultural Ministers website
Meeting of Cultural Ministers, May 2014

The Meeting of Cultural Ministers has launched a website which provides detailed information about the body and its working groups. Publications, communiques and media releases can be downloaded from this website. The Meeting of Cultural Ministers is the annual forum of arts and culture ministers from the federal and state governments, with the representatives from the Australian Local Government Association, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Government of New Zealand participating as observers.

Click here for more >


Management and marketing

Audience Atlas Victoria
Arts Victoria, April 2014

Audience Atlas Victoria is the most detailed and comprehensive profile of arts audiences ever undertaken in Victoria. Key findings include that Victorians spend $5.1 billion annually on cultural activities, or $421.5 million a month, of which nearly half is spent on admission. 44% of Victorians belong to an arts or cultural organisation, 60% donate their money to these and 17% volunteer their time. The Audience Atlas includes analysis of the media consumption and behaviours of different segments of the market by artform to help arts organisations to reach and broaden their audiences.

Click here for more >

Environmental sustainability and leadership in the arts sector
Julie’s Bicycle and BOP, July 2014

Julie’s Bicycle surveyed UK arts leaders on their attitudes and actions towards environmental sustainability. The research finds that although there is a high degree of engagement with the issue within the sector, a value-action gap remains.

Download the report here >

Data that matters: three metrics to grow audience relationships 
National Arts Marketing Project, June 2014

Arts consultant Jill Robinson has published an article for Americans for the Arts’ National Arts Marketing Project on the metrics employed in measuring audience engagement. Whilst Robinson applauds the growing appreciation of the importance of data within the arts sector, she encourages arts organisations to ‘stop studying everything’, and suggests three key metrics in appraising their relationships with audiences. 

Click here for more >

Book review - Funemployed: Life as an Artist in Australia by Justin Heazlewood 
Sydney Morning Herald, June 2014

Owen Richardson has reviewed Funemployed: Life as an Artist in Australia by Justin Heazlewood for the Sydney Morning Herald. Heazlewood’s book explores the challenges of working as an artist in Australia today – challenges that are emotional, financial and professional in nature. Heazlewood’s book is based on personal experience, as well as extensive discussion with practising artists. Richardson summarises its core message as ‘don’t be naïve’ – pointing to the book’s counsel that aspiring artists should be aware of the reality that they have chosen a hard path, but that accordingly, there is all the more reward in navigating it successfully. 

Click here for more >

New modes of arts participation and the limits of cultural indicators for local government
Poetics, Volume 43, April 2014
This is a paid article. 

This article looks at whether it is useful to develop standardised measurement systems for tracking local government achievement of cultural goals. It looks at four cases of how Australian local governments define and measure arts participation within their cultural policies and plans. It finds that the definition of participation varies greatly across the municipalities, in ways that reflect their context-specific needs. A standardised definition of participation and system of measurement would risk losing the context-relevant information Councils need. 

Click here for more > 

Research and evaluation

Art Facts: Overview
Australia Council for the Arts, July 2014 

Art Facts Overview was launched this month as the latest addition to the Australia Council’s Art Facts project, which has already profiled Music and Visual Arts.

The interactive website bring together facts, figures and research from across the sector into one place to provide a detailed overview of the key trends, issue and opportunities for the arts. 

It allows users to discover a range of interesting facts by exploring the Art Facts ecosystem of creation, industry, participation, global and industry support

With the ability to share findings, leave comments, like content and play the new quiz, the Art Facts website provides an easy way to digest key arts sector statistics.

Click here for more >

Talking Points: A Snapshot of Contemporary Visual Arts 2013-14
Phip Murray, Commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts, May 2014

Talking Points is a profile of the contemporary visual arts sector in Australia. The research is based on in-depth interviews with almost 100 visual artists, curators, presenters, philanthropists, gallerists and buyers of contemporary art, provides an overview of current issues, opportunities and challenges in the sector, and maps key developments over the last decade. The Australia Council commissioned this qualitative research report alongside analysis of existing quantitative data and information presented through Artfacts: Visual Arts.

Click here for more >

Australian National Accounts: Non-Profit Institutions Satellite Account, 2012-13
Australia Bureau of Statistics, June 2014

The ABS has released the Non Profit Institutions (NPI) Satellite Account for Australia, 2012-13. This publication provides information on size, structure and economic contribution of NPIs and allows comparison to the previous 2006-07 NPI satellite account. 

In 2012-13, there were over 11,000 culture and recreation NPIs and on a national accounts basis these NPIs made the third largest contribution to Gross Value Added (13.2%), equivalent to $7.26 billion. The largest NPIs (in GVA terms) are in Education and Research, and Social Services.

The accounts also provide data on employment, income and assets split by market and non-market NPIs.

Click here for more >

Size and Scope of the Live Performance Industry
Live Performance Australia, April 2014

The second Size and Scope of the Live Performance Industry report has been released by Live Performance Australia (LPA). The study combines the results of the 2012 LPA Ticket Attendance and Revenue Survey with an estimation approach, to calculate the industry’s economic contribution in terms of gross output, value add and full time equivalent employment. 

It shows that the Live Performance Industry generated revenues of $2.55 billion during 2012 and directly supports the employment of almost 19,000 full time equivalent (FTE) positions. The largest category within the industry was contemporary music, accounting for 35% of the revenues.

The industry value add (total profit and wages) generated by the industry was $1.53 billion. This was greater than the film, television and digital games industry, heritage activities and library services.

Click here for more >

Developing a scale for measuring the perceived value of cultural institutions
Cultural Trends, Taylor & Francis Online, May 2014
This is a paid article.

Scales are measurement tools which combine a number of individual indicators into a composite measure, to assess underlying concepts that are difficult to measure directly. The study developed indicators of six possible aspects of value: contribution to economic development; to a positive image of place, to self- and cultural-identity, to building social networks, to developing skills and knowledge, and to mental and physical health. Data on how the public assessed a set of cultural institutions on these indicators was used to construct a robust scale.

Click here for more >

Are you weird enough to be an artist? 
ArtsHub Australia, May 2014

ArtsHub Australia recently summarised the findings of a fascinating study published in the European Journal of Psychology that concluded that audiences were more likely to favourably evaluate art when they were told that the artist who created it was eccentric in some way. This preference also led to a greater financial value being attributed to work by ‘eccentric’ artists. The researchers concluded that the persona of artists themselves is key to others’ appraisal of their work as unconventional, commenting that ‘eccentricity is stereotypically associated with unconventional and high quality art’.

Click here for more >

May 2014

CultureCase is ‘an experiment in communicating academic research’. It is a database of selected academic research from around the world that aims to value to the work of the cultural sector. It provides short accessible summaries which demonstrate the impacts of arts and culture, and highlights a range of insights to help inform future planning. CultureCase aims to be used to help advocate for the value of culture, assist people applying for funding and inform programming, marketing and strategic decision-making. The tool was discussed by Simon Tait recently in The Stage.

Click here for more >

A comparison of ebooks and elending in Australian Public Libraries 2013 v 2014 
Australian Library and Information Association Australian Public Library Alliance, June 2014

A recent study commissioned by the Australian Library and Information Association Australian Public Library Alliance has identified interesting trends in elending by Australian libraries over the past year. The study found that nearly all Australian public libraries now lend ebooks, rising dramatically from 69% to 97% between 2013 and 2014, though ebooks usually account for no more than 5% of the total lending activity. 

Click here for more >


The Regional Arts Australia Summit: Arts & Edges
6 – 19 October 2014, Kalgoorlie-Boulder

The biennial Regional Arts Australia Summit will take place in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in Western Australia between October 16 and 19. The event aims to create a trusting environment within which networking, collaboration, ideas generation and knowledge sharing can take place.

Click here for more >

Arts Activated Conference 2014: Creative Connections
28 -29 October 2014, Chatswood, Sydney

Presented by Accessible Arts, Arts Activated aims to celebrate the accomplishments of people with a disability in the arts, and to foster dialogue around how to promote a culture of inclusivity within the arts sector. The conference will take place on October 28 and 29, 2014.

Click here for more >

Communicating the museum 
4 - 11 November 2014, Sydney and Melbourne 

Communicating the Museum is an international conference focusing on museums, communications and marketing. It aims to bring communications professionals both from within the sector and elsewhere together from around the world to meet, debate and share ideas. This year’s conference will be presented in Sydney and Melbourne. The program consists of a series of workshops, masterclasses, networking opportunities, tours, keynote addresses and one-to-one meetings. The conference takes place between November 4 and 11 2014 at locations in Sydney and Melbourne.

Click here for more >

6th Annual International Arts and Health Conference - The Art of Good Health and Wellbeing 
11 - 13 November 2014, Melbourne

Presented by Arts and Health Australia, the Art of Good Health and Wellbeing: 6th Annual International Arts and Health Conference aims to provide a forum for discussing best practice in the development and delivery of innovative arts and health programs, as well as methods of project evaluation and research. This year’s conference will take place at the National Gallery of Victoria from November 11 to 13.

Click here for more >

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