Public value

The value of arts and culture to society, and how to measure this value, has been the subject of intense debate for many years both in Australia and internationally.

Increasingly, the sector is expected to demonstrate the value of its work across social, economic and environmental outcomes to audiences, investors and governments, often relying on government to consolidate data and report on key measures of value.  

Since 2010, through our Public Value Measurement Framework (PVMF), we have undertaken a comprehensive process of investigating and measuring the public value culture and arts creates. The public value is the cultural, social and economic benefits to the Western Australian community. The value is created through investment (e.g. grants and funding). 

To achieve accurate and real time data collection, we commissioned the development of the Culture Counts system. This award winning Western Australian product was a first of its kind digital platform and data collection tool for the arts, culture and creative sector. It captures feedback on the quality of an arts or cultural experience, using real time feedback from audiences, peers, organisations and artists.  

Both the PVMF and the Culture Counts platform continue to be developed and expanded. Most recently to include Social Impact and explore the measurement of intangible social benefits, a highly complex area of public value in relation to government investment.  

Social impact 

We used Culture Counts to undertake the social impact research project. This project aligns social outcomes with the current Public Value Measurement Framework (PVMF) and identifies techniques, metrics and data collection approaches to find ways to calculate social impact.  

The Social Impacts of Culture and the Arts report and its application are part of the further development of the overall Public Value Measurement model.     

What it captures 

The report contains a literature review identifying positive social impacts linked to artistic and cultural activities and has found there are social impacts that can be measured. The focus lies on three main areas of social impacts: health, education and social capital.    

There are several steps involved in the process of calculating the impacts of arts and cultural activities, including establishing a base case, finding evidence of an impact (causal relationship), identifying the scale of the impact and impacted population, and linking the impact to a financial proxy.

What is next

This is a first step towards finding a way to measure intangible social benefits, a highly complex area of public value in relation to government investment. It proposes preliminary techniques and dimensions (metric statements) related to health, education and social capital that can be included in the current PVMF. 

Arts and cultural organisations will be able to include the social impact dimensions in their evaluations when using Culture Counts. This will allow the sector to start gathering social impact related insights on an event by event basis while also contributing to whole of sector aggregated data.  

The work acknowledges the limitations in accurately quantifying social impacts. This model introduces an approach requiring further testing and engagement from academia and other experts in the field.  

For more detail or questions, please get in touch with the culture and the arts research team or with Culture Counts   

Culture Counts 

Culture Counts is a digital data collection and analysis system that evaluates feedback from multiple sources including artists, their peers and the public to capture the quality of any given activity. You may have been approached by a data collection person or asked to fill in a Culture Counts survey online after a culture or arts experience.  The information you provide helps to gain a truer understanding of the impact of culture and the arts on you, and the community as a whole.   

The department developed the Culture Counts system with Pracsys in a public private partnership. This WA system has progressed quickly with the support of the sector and a growing national and international reputation. In the UK, Arts Council England selected Culture Counts and its UK partner Counting What Counts Ltd to provide the service for their new impact and insight toolkit.  

In 2019, the department and the City of Perth received an Achievement Award from the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) WA for developing a shared evaluation framework within the Culture Counts system.  

For more detail please visit the Culture Counts website. 

Infographic regarding data collected by organisations using Culture Counts.

Evaluation snapshot: culture and the arts 2016-19

The Culture Counts summary aggregates the data collected by organisations over a four year period and provides benchmark comparisons for organisations in WA.
Social impacts of CA

Social Impacts of Culture and the Arts WA, 2019

The Social Impacts of Culture and the Arts WA report and its application are part of the further development of the overall Public Value Measurement model.
PVMF Measuring quality arts

Public Value Measurement Framework. Measuring the Quality of the Arts, 2014

A new approach to capturing, measuring and explaining the value of the arts.
PVMF Issues Paper 2

Public Value Measurement Framework. Issues Paper 2 — Benchmarking

Early conceptual scoping of the department’s new value framework.
Page reviewed 17 August 2021