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Does culture matter? Major AHRC project launched today

Date: 21/03/2013

We all have a sense that culture matters to us, that participating in cultural activities, from attending a book club or concert to visiting an art gallery or watching the opening ceremony at last summer's Olympic Games, is important to us as individuals and as a society. But how do we express, measure or evidence that value?

Launched today (Thursday 21 March), the Cultural Value Project will explore the ways in which the arts and culture are important in our contemporary society and how we can provide evidence of that importance.

There have in recent years been various attempts to capture cultural value, however these attempts have not gained widespread confidence and the value of culture seems for many to remain elusive.

Sharing their perspectives on the value of culture at the launch event will be the Rt Hon. David Willetts, Minister  for Universities and Science, Lord Melvyn Bragg, broadcaster and author, Jude Kelly OBE, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, Professor Rick Rylance, Chief Executive of the AHRC, and Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Director of the Cultural Value Project.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: The UK has a rich cultural history that we can be very proud of. This fascinating project will draw on a broad range of expertise from the UK's leading research base to try and assess what arts and culture really mean to us as individuals and the UK as a whole.

The two-year Cultural Value Project will look beyond conventional economic arguments, attempting to look at the value of culture from a broader perspective, and gain agreement on how we can identify that value. Also launched at the reception will be the first funding call for the Cultural Value Project which embraces a wide range of academic disciplines. The aim of the call is to analyse the existing research base, address the gaps in current research and to develop new methods of evaluating how arts and cultural activities bring value to individuals and to society.

Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Director of the Cultural Value Project comments: This is a timely and important project, and one that will identify the contribution that the arts and culture bring to individuals and to society with greater breadth than in the past. The challenge is to find ways of evidencing those various contributions, from health to the economy, from urban revitalisation to an environment for innovation. Above all, however, it will explore in what ways engagement with arts and cultural affects people, makes them reflective as individuals and thoughtful as citizens. Culture matters, and in challenging times we need to show just how important it is.

Professor Sir Alan Wilson, Chair of the AHRC comments, Our experiences of culture have a profound effect on our lives, and yet assessing the significance and benefit proves to be a challenge for universities and the cultural sector. This project will not only broaden the evidence base but proved a framework for a wide range of sectors to determine the unique merit of culture, for individuals, society and the economy.

For further information, please contact: Danielle Moore-Chick, AHRC: 01793 416021 d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes for editors 


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