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Research and Debate

The following initiatives focus on cultural research and development in the UK:

The AHRC Cultural Value Project
The #CulturalValue Initiative

The AHRC Cultural Value Project

The AHRC Cultural Value Project, led by Commissioner Geoffrey Crossick with its £2 million budget is the largest current initiative in this category. The project’s intellectual starting point, and the identification of the targets of the funding calls are a critical assessment of the status quo of research, policy thinking and evaluation practice in the arts and culture. For this reason, unusually, the first project’s funding call is a very rich and interesting document, which presents, in addition to information on the application process practicalities, an attempt to identify and classify the principal components and determinants of cultural value (the original funding call document can be accessed here).

The project’s main outputs will be, in addition to a final project report, in the form of critical literature reviews; development projects (small scale research projects) and workshops. In the first round of funding, the project supported 11 critical reviews and 32 development projects. The list of funded projects can be accessed here.

A second, more targeted funding call closed in November 2013, and projects will be announced in due course.

The #CulturalValue Intitiative

This is a blog curated by Dr Eleonora Belfiore at Warwick University that aspires to create a space of dialogue and exchange between academics, cultural professionals, artists and policy makers on questions of cultural value and their policy dimension. As part of the initiative, Dr Belfiore is also working on developing a cultural value network with colleagues at the University of Melbourne and Monash in Australia, which also includes the Research unit at ACE and at the Australia Council for the Arts.


Much of the work of the RSA touches on areas that are close to the ground covered by the Warwick Commission. However, the activities in the RSA’s strand ‘Learning, Cognition and Creativity’ are of particular relevance.

Work in this area is organized in three different themes:

  • Arts and Society
  • Education
  • Social Brain

As part of the ‘Arts and Society’ stream of activities, the RSA has engaged in a number of initiative and projects which have cultural value at their heart. The pamphlet 'Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society', written by Matthew Taylor and John Knell and published in 2011 is a key contribution the RSA has made to cultural policy debates and represents an attempt to reformulate the value question in a way that can inspire fresh policy thinking in challenging times.

The full list of RSA’s recent activities in this strand can be accessed here. The most relevant to the Commission is arguably the collaboration between RSA and ACE, which has resulted in a number of research workshop and in the publication, in late 2013, of a report entitled Towards Plan A: A New Political Economy for Arts and Culture. The report called for more rigour and a more strategic approach to measurement and evaluation in the cultural sector, and also called for a ‘coalition of action’ based on deeper and more effective partnerships between cultural organisations.