Centre for Cultural Value

October 2019 — September 2024

Principal and Co-investigators
Prof Ben Walmsley (PI/Director)
Prof Franco Bianchini (Co-I)
Sue Hayton (Co-I)
Prof Andrew Higson (Co-I)
Dr Leila Jancovich (Co-I)
Prof Stephanie Pitts (Co-I)
Dr David Stevenson (Co-I)

Anne Torreggiani (Co-Director)
Liz Harrop (Centre Manager)
Dr Robyn Dowlen (Postdoctoral Researcher)
Tamsin Curror (Communications Manager)
Mikey Nissenbaum (Administration & Events Officer)
Lisa Baxter (Partnerships Consultant)

Research Organisations
University of Leeds
University of Sheffield
University of York
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

Funding sources
Arts Council England
Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Dates of funding
October 2019—September 2024

In 2012 the Arts and Humanities Research Council launched the Cultural Value Project, led by Professor Geoffrey Crossick. The project explored the question of why the arts and culture matter, and how we capture the effects that they have. Some 70 original pieces of work collectively make up the Cultural Value Project – a mixture of new research, critical reviews of the literature and specialist workshops. This work has probed, challenged and advanced our thinking about how better to understand and capture the value of culture. The project, and its subsequent report, ‘Understanding the Value of Arts & Culture’ by Geoffrey Crossick and Patrycja Kaszynska, opened up a fresh approach to thinking about the value of culture. It highlighted the imperative to reposition first-hand, individual experience of arts and culture at the heart of enquiry into cultural value.

So the Centre for Cultural Value starts from the perspective that everyone values culture of one kind or another, even if they don’t always have equal opportunities to take part. Our vision is primarily pragmatic: we want empirical research to drive decisions about cultural funding, policy, management, engagement and evaluation. Our model is participatory and collaborative: we work with a wide range of partners and stakeholders to explore the timeliest questions of cultural value.

Our mission is to enhance understanding of the differences that arts and culture make to people’s lives. We do this by making research more relevant and accessible and by supporting artists and the cultural sector to capture and evaluate their value. Building on existing research, the Centre addresses the following core questions:

  • How can we evidence the impacts of arts, culture and heritage on individuals and communities?
  • What and where are the evidence gaps?
  • How can a rigorous cultural research and evidence base impact positively on policymaking?

Through a series of interactive events all over the UK and via an online portal, the Centre will bring together researchers with expertise in these areas with artists, cultural organisations, practitioners from health and education, politicians and policymakers, audiences, participants and local communities.

As well as building on existing research and best practice and sharing findings via events organised with partners across the UK, the Centre for Cultural Value will offer £200,000 of research funding to arts, cultural and heritage organisations wishing to explore new methods of evaluating their cultural value with the support of a dedicated academic researcher. International collaboration is also on the horizon, with a potential initial network of centres stretching from Australia through Europe to North America.

Based at the University of Leeds, the Centre’s core partners are The Audience Agency and the Universities of Hull, Sheffield, York and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.  Our broad range of affiliate partners include Aesop, Arts Marketing Association, Association of British Orchestras, BBC, British Library, BFI, Contemporary Visual Arts Network, Coventry 2021, Creative & Cultural Skills, Culture Forum North, Eden Court Theatre, Museums Association, One Dance UK, National Theatre, National Theatre Scotland and Opera North. We also work closely with our Cultural Institute which aims to increase pioneering research collaborations with creative sector partners and to widen cultural engagement and participation.

Visit our website for more information, including information on how you can sign up to our mailing list and register to attend upcoming events.