Piloting Arts evaluation with Culture Counts

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The Grimstones, photo courtesy Access Arts (2012)

How do you know if an art program is successful?  Of course you can measure audience numbers—but how do you measure other elements like quality? One of our previous grantees, Access Arts, participated in the Queensland government’s pilot of a new arts evaluation program called Culture Counts. Their final report was exceptionally strong, and covered measures of intrinsic value.   

Given the strength of their outcomes measurements, the Foundation has decided to pilot the Culture Counts evaluation program with four more grantees: The Australian Book Review, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Windmill Theatre and the University of Tasmania Arts. Each of these organisations will have a year’s access to the Culture Counts online surveys, frameworks and training. The main contact, Georgia Moore, is Melbourne-based and supported by a team of six in their Perth-based office.

These tools were developed when the Department of Culture and the Arts in Western Australia commissioned Pracsys Economics to develop a platform for evaluating Arts programs (see https://culturecounts.cc/). The platform has been successfully trialled in WA and in the UK (in partnership with the Arts Council England), in Queensland by Arts Queensland (see http://www.arts.qld.gov.au/blog/index.php/culture-counts-access-arts/) and the current Victorian trial (with 42 organisations) is being independently evaluated by Deakin University. This totals over 150 arts organisations in the pilot.

In short, Culture Counts appears to be a well-designed evaluation system created by an economic company. The Access Arts evaluation and presentation were impressive and professional. While we do not want to supplant the government pilots, we are happy to explore this avenue of outcomes measurement.

Across the Arts sector, there is excitement about the potential to be able to benchmark performances (for example, across small dance companies or large art museums). We will be excited to report on the outcomes of this pilot in one years’ time.



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