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Approaching Cultural Value as a Complex System

Date & Time:

November 29, 2013 (Fri) | 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.


Room P6-03, Graduate House


Dr Lorraine Blakemore
Arts Engaged Research Fellow, Leeds Humanities Research Institute
University of Leeds


In Spring 2013 the Arts and Humanities Research Council in UK launched the two-year Cultural Value project. It did so partly to counter economic valuations of culture which in recent years have become dominant and to construct a framework of approaches to types of evidence that will provide greater clarity and confidence in support of the arts and culture.

The objectives of 'Approaching Cultural Value as a Complex System' are to work towards the establishment of a research mode that can effectively evaluate the arts and cultural experience - understood in both individual and collective/institutional terms - taking place in a large urban environment (Leeds, UK). In doing so, the aim is to develop robust collaborative practice through the inclusion of partner organisations in each stage of the process; investigate the range of experiences, from reflective individual to engaged civic partner; explore the place of the cultural experience in an assessment of wider urban regeneration, and stress the idea of the critical case study, in terms of both the value and limitations of the approach. A 'spotlight' of mental health as a case study within the case study is used to exemplify how these methods work on a single example of cultural practice, and to address how an arts festival produces value in terms of a national health agenda and a citywide context of wellbeing.

The collaborative nature of this (ongoing) project has facilitated a period of sustained and reflective peer learning and knowledge exchange, not only amongst researchers, but also between the two participating faculties of the University of Leeds, the National Health Service, Leeds City Council, and the partner arts and cultural organisations (including Arts Council England).

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