ACE's evidence review references the Hepworth Wakefield's contribution to the UK economy

ACE to fund research gaps

Rebecca Atkinson, 18.03.2014
Gaps identified in new report on impact of arts and culture
Arts Council England (ACE) has announced it will launch a research grants programme this autumn after a new report revealed gaps in the evidence for the impact of arts and culture on the economy, society, education, and health and wellbeing.

The Value of Arts and Culture to People and Society report is a review of the research and evidence already available that demonstrate the importance of arts and culture on society.

But the report acknowledges that most of the studies reviewed “cannot establish causality between arts and culture and the wider societal impacts”.

It says there is a need for larger sample sizes, longitudinal studies and experimental methods.

For example, there is no up-to-date information on the economic impact of museums and libraries and how they contribute to the wider economy, or longitudinal studies of the health benefits of participation in arts and culture.

In a statement, ACE said: “While there is a considerable body of research literature, there are also many gaps. The evidence review has acted as a catalyst in our thinking and we will be committing substantial research grants to cover those areas where there is a lack of data.”

The report's authors add: “Not only would this dramatically enhance the evidence base but it would also promote greater collaboration and cooperation across the sector and with other partners.”

ACE will launch a research grants programme in the autumn, and is calling for cultural organisations and others to develop research proposals that will improve the evidence base. More details on the programme will be available in due course.

Other areas where the report identities research gaps include: the strongest drivers for participation among children and young people; the “deferred benefits” of participation; the economic contribution of sole traders and freelancers employed in the arts; and the use of digital technologies by arts and cultural organisations.  

The arts council said it would also be commissioning research into equality and diversity issues across the sector, and whether arts and cultural policy disadvantages some socio-economic groups.

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