A week of discussions about cultural value and a feeling that there is a general anti-economist cultural volksgeist afoot, ironically coinciding with the long overdue realisation that the UK’s creative economy is big and buoyant. The new appetite for social value now pops up regularly in Think Tank communiques. Social value is, however, not the same thing as artistic value, and it may get confusing if an evidence gathering industry develops. We have the expansion of the instrumental value agenda such as Sacco’s work for the EU, or the ACE funded Quality Metrics Pilot closer to home. We also have the AHRC Cultural Value Project attempting to widen the state’s gaze on culture beyond instrumentalism.
While the heart of this question lies with the philosopher, qualitative research into intrinsic cultural value will hopefully prompt reflection on transparency, and the use of experts and peer assessment in how we invest in, and strategise culture. Is there a need for a new type of observatory for cultural research, cushioned from sectoral territoriality, political whim, and NGO self interest? Or does it already exist, only needing pulling together into the right dissemination platform?
Image: The Galileo Project