New national centre in Leeds to measure value of arts and culture

The Arts encompasses a lot of different experiences
The Arts encompasses a lot of different experiences
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A NEW national centre in Leeds is set to examine the value which arts and culture brings to our lives.

As well as being good for our mental health and well-being, ‘the arts’ can educate us and enhance life, as well as explore difficult issues through performance, song and creative expression.

Dr Ben Walmsley, associate professor in audience engagement at the University Leeds.

Dr Ben Walmsley, associate professor in audience engagement at the University Leeds.

The new Centre for Cultural Value, based at the University of Leeds, will examine the value of arts and culture - looking at everything from book clubs and pub turns, to fine art and opera, to theatre and comedy or an art exhibition in your local cafe.

The centre will focus on the role of arts and culture in areas such as conflict resolution, education, health and well-being, and community regeneration, bringing together researchers with expertise in these areas with artists, arts and cultural organisations, audiences, participants and local communities.

Dr Ben Walmsley, associate professor in audience engagement at the University of Leeds who will lead the new centre, said: “Two questions at the core of the new centre’s work will be: ‘What does it feel like to engage with arts and culture?’ and ‘What tangible differences do arts and culture make to people’s lives?’.

“Our work will cover a diverse range of cultural activity from grassroots and community activities to work produced by our world-leading national organisations.

“The Centre for Cultural Value will help stimulate public debate about the role of national and local governments in creating and enabling cultural value, informed by robust and rigorous research.”

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Council England with an investment of £2 million over five years, this centre will collaborate and consult widely to advance understanding of the value of the UK’s arts and culture sector and its unexplored potential.

The centre will bring academic researchers, policy makers and arts and cultural organisations together in useful dialogue and shared understanding. It will also involve a wide range of artists and arts and cultural organisations from across the UK in planning its programme and its activity.

Simon Mellor, Deputy Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “We experience the benefits of art and culture every day but all too often it can be difficult to evidence the impact of these opportunities in terms of our health, well-being and communities.

“The centre will be a fantastic research and resource hub for the sector and we look forward to working with them in the coming years.”

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 seed funding to arts and cultural organisations wishing to explore new methods of evaluating their cultural value with the support of a dedicated academic researcher.

The Centre for Culture Value will be based at Leeds’ School of Performance and Cultural Industries and supported closely by the University’s Cultural Institute, which plays a key role in strengthening the University’s position as a global centre of research and teaching excellence in culture, increasing pioneering research collaborations with creative sector partners, widening cultural engagement and participation in arts and culture, and widening students’ skills.