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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Welcome to the May issue of Art Smarts

Welcome to our second edition of 2014. This highlights recent publications on the value and impact of the arts. The US National Endowment for the Arts has released the first batch of reports from their research grants program, covering a wide range of topics including the impact of arts in education and in place making. The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published new analysis of the social and wellbeing impacts of engagement with the arts. Finally, Arts Council England has reviewed recent evidence on the direct and indirect benefits of the arts for society. 

We have recently researched how the Australian public view the impact of the arts, as well as trends in national engagement with the arts – updating our 2010 report More than bums on seats. We will alert you all of this release soon.

Happy reading!

Bridget Jones
Director, Research and Strategic Analysis 



Top reading

The value of arts and culture to people and society – an evidence review 
Arts Council England (ACE), March 2014

Arts Council England has reviewed a selection of research and evaluation with the aim of making a holistic case for the value of arts and culture and identifying gaps for future research. It looks at the direct and indirect benefits across four key categories; economy, health and wellbeing, society and education. The review also outlines key evidence gaps and possible approaches to filling these; and proposes a research grants program to improve the evidence base.  

It is important to note the selection criteria for the literature reviewed was restrictive in order to make the review feasible. Some have argued that this caused the review to miss some key perspectives and views.

Read the report here >

National Endowment for the Arts research grants reports
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), April 2014

The first round of research reports from the NEA's Research: Art Works grant program have been released. This grants program funds research on the value and impact of the arts. There is a wealth of findings among the 17 reports released, and some themes include:  the impact of the arts in place making; the impact of arts in school curriculums; and the economics of the arts sector.

Read the reports here >

Quantifying the Social Impacts of Culture and Sport
Quantifying and Valuing the Wellbeing Impacts of Culture and Sport
Daniel Fujiwara, Laura Kudrna and Paul Dolan / Department for Culture Media & Sport, April 2014

These two reports use state of the art techniques to analyse the wellbeing and social impacts of engaging with arts, and estimate their financial value. They find arts engagement is associated with higher wellbeing to the value of £1,084 per person per year, while among the social impacts they find that arts audiences are more likely to volunteer, and give more in charitable donations, even controlling for other factors such as income levels. Interestingly, some of the positive impacts appear to be larger for older people (over 46 years). 

Read the social impacts report here >
Read the wellbeing impacts report here>


Funding and policy

Arts Impact Alberta – Ripple Effects from the Arts Sector 
Alberta Foundation for the Arts, February 2014

This report examines nonprofit arts organisations funded by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts (Canada) with focus on the positive contributions made by these organisations to the wider community. The five year study (2006 – 2011) incorporates data from 670 organizations including public art galleries, festivals and performing arts organisations. Beneficial outcomes of the “ripple effect” of arts funding include arts programming revenue consistently exceeding expenditure despite the economic climate.

Read the report here > 

Tax relief for British theatre
Michael Rushton, For What It’s Worth, March 2014

The British government’s latest budget release has incorporated considerable tax relief for live theatre and touring shows. This opinion piece, from a blog hosted by ArtsJournal, compares this scheme with the production tax credits available to US film and television productions, highlighting that no criteria is used to assess artistic excellence. The author argues that this tax relief policy lacks any focus beyond the financial benefit of increased returns on commercial and subsidised theatre productions.  

Read the article here >

MATCH: Crowdfunding for the Independent Arts Sector
Creative Partnerships Australia, March 2014

Creative Partnerships Australia has launched a new initiative, MATCH: Crowdfunding for the Independent Arts Sector, to promote social investment as a new income stream for independent Australian artists. The program aims to stimulate creation of new work and promote crowdfunding to emerging artists as both a method of raising revenue and a marketing tool. The campaign will match any money raised by artists appointed by Match Lead Organisations, a collective of 17 independent arts organisations from across Australia. 

Read their crowdfunding resources here >

Arts Council England Stakeholder Focus research
Arts Council England (ACE), April 2014 

TThe Arts Council England’s Stakeholder focus research is a client satisfaction tracking study used to understand sector perceptions of ACE’s performance, and public opinion of public arts and culture.  The research has run annually since 2009, and 2014 headline findings include increased public support for public and lottery investment in arts and culture, widening participation in arts and culture seen as most important by both public and stakeholders, and recognition and prioritisation of ACE’s advocacy role but concern over their capacity to deliver on this role. 

Read the report >



Management and marketing

Stand For the Arts  
Ovation Foundation, March 2014

The Ovation Foundation has announced a new initiative called Stand for the Arts, intended to encourage support and advocacy for the arts. The project aims to emphasize the value of creative expression for the community at large, to increase awareness of issues facing the arts, and to inspire the public to take action to support the arts community.

Read more here >

Mentoring in the creative sector: Industry Insights
Nesta, February 2014

Nesta has conducted a survey of creative sector business in the United Kingdom to assess their current outlook on mentoring. The survey finds that there is a significant demand for mentoring in the artistic space yet many companies lack the resources or ability to make the initial connections. A follow up to this report will measure the impact of Nesta’s Creative Business Mentor Network which aims to encourage the widespread take-up of volunteer mentoring in the creative sector.

Read the survey results here >

Tallying Art World Inequality, One Gallery at a Time 
Jillian Steinhauer, Hyperallergic, March 2014

This article focuses on gender diversity in the arts sector, highlighting the lack of representation for female artists in galleries across the Unites States and internationally. The author examines Gallery Tally, a recent initiative by artist Micol Hebron in which galleries calculate the gender breakdown of current exhibitors and create dynamic posters to display the data collected.  Hebron hopes to improve awareness of the gender gap by presenting objective data that measures the imbalance in a clear and dynamic manner.

Read the article here >

Closing the Gap: Supporting Healthy Communities through Arts Programs
Vicki-Ann Ware, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, January 2014

This paper reviews a range of evidence from 2000 – 2013 showing the effect of arts programs on supporting and building healthy communities, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It discusses benefits of programs including assisting students to re-engage with studies, improving mental health, increased community participation, reduce social exclusion and the ability to use programs as vehicles for community education. Designed as a resource sheet, the paper gives practical insights on how to build and implement effective programs which are relevant to the community and have the best engagement and uptake.

Read the paper here >

Innovation Lab for the Performing Arts: Case studies in innovation and adaptive capacity
Emc Arts, March 2014

This paper gives two case studies of performing arts organisations going through the process of embedding innovative strategies to achieve public value. It tracks the innovation process each organisation went through and the steps and resources required for adaptive change. The case studies will be of particular interest to people engaged in such a process themselves, or funders looking to support innovation in the arts. 

Read the case studies here >


Research and Evaluation

Keeping My Day Job: Identifying U.S. Workers Who Have Dual Careers as Artists
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), March 2014 

This analysis of the 2013 Current Population Survey (CPS) highlights key employment statistics for artists. It compares those working as artists in their main job (2.1 million artists) with those working as artists in a secondary job (271,000 artists). Many secondary job artists work in a professional role in their primary job, with 21 percent being teachers. Only 10% work in the service industry as their primary job. Other key areas included in the analysis are the number of hours worked, the occupation and industry of primary work, the type of employment and key demographics.

Read the analysis >

The Status of the Artist in Finland 2010: The Structure of the Artist Community, Work and Income Formation
Kaija Rensujeff, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, March 2014

This report summarises the key findings of the 2011 artist survey into the employment, income and labour market status of artists in Finland. The number of professional artists has increased over time and artists are more educated, older and more likely to be female than in 2000. Artists are experiencing instability in their work, with many working as freelancers (29%) or as ‘free artists’ (36%) – without a formal employment contract or freelance status. While grants are an important income source for artists, the research suggests that private support for the arts has increased faster than state grants between 2000 and 2010. Rensujeff suggests that this highlights a need to focus both on supporting artists and developing the market for the arts.

Read the report >

ARIA Wholesale Figures 2013
Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), February 2014

Annual wholesale figures for the local recording industry have been released by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and show digital music sales grew rapidly to 54.7% of market share in 2013, overtaking physical music sales for the first time. The total market value of digital music products increased 4.3% to $192.3 million in 2013 but could not account for a 25% drop in physical sales revenue over the same period. Overall, this resulted in a decrease of 11.6% in annual recorded music revenue in 2013. However, the ongoing vinyl resurgence continued in 2013 with vinyl album unit sales up 77% from 2012.

Read the report >

Cultural Trends special issue on cultural value measurement*
Cultural Trends, latest articles published online, March – April 2014
*requires subscription access to Cultural Trends

This special issue of Cultural Trends focuses on the emergence of national approaches to measuring cultural value across several countries. Articles include examinations of Australia’s Vital Signs project, New Zealand’s Cultural Indicators, Canada’s Cultural Satellite Account and the UK’s Cultural Value Project. The drivers for these projects vary, but strong economic imperatives are discernible in models focusing on publically funded culture. Acknowledgement of the intrinsic dimensions of culture is part of the conversation, though not all projects measure these.

Read the abstracts or purchase online >


The 18th International Conference on Cultural Economics
24-27 June 2014, Montreal, Canada

This biennial conference is presented by the Association for Cultural Economics International (ACEI). The conference theme is Connecting Conversations - on the interactions between the practices of the cultural sector and economic analysis.

Read more about the conference here >

8th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research
9-12 September 2014, Hildesheim, Germany

ICCPR2014 aims to provide a space for exploring cultural policies, their meanings, roles and impact in an interdisciplinary and international environment. This conference occurs biennially and in 2012 had 300 researchers from 44 countries. It operates in collaboration with the International Journal of Cultural Policy. 

Read more about the conference here >

2014 Marketing Summit of the Australia Council: The Art of Connectivity
30 June – 1 July 2014, Hobart, Australia
Arts marketers use connections that are organic, viral, logical, complex, and multilayered, and all necessary to sustain our industry. The Summit aims to explore why we put so much effort into these connections and how these connections actually work for us? Discussing these questions will lead us to explore how we do this better and what the future might hold. The 10th annual Marketing Summit will take place over two days at the Baha'i Centre of Learning and MONA in Hobart.

Read more about the summit >

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