Experiencing arts and culture. Understanding and measuring quality in physical and virtual environments

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Sch of Sociology and Social Policy


The proposed workshop programme is set to review existing definitions of cultural engagement and outline the main lines of assessment that have been tested within the Impacts 08 programme and are being further explored in a diversity of special projects within Liverpool and the North West in the context of the 2008 European Capital of Culture. The programme also establishes a link with partners and stakeholders in the South East who aspire to maximise audience engagement in the lead to the 2012 Olympic Games via Cultural Olympiad - related activities.

The main issues we aim to explore are interpretations of quality within arts and cultural experiences and approaches to measuring and fully assessing the impact of such experiences. Large-scale cultural events such as the Capital of Culture and the Cultural Olympiad involve extensive collaborations and partnerships as well as targeted spending over brief but intense periods of time. However, understanding the value of experiencing such events and their long term impacts remains a contested issue.

In order to frame the debate and maximise opportunities for advanced research methodologies as well as suggested lines of action for practitioners and policy-makers, we are proposing to conduct three workshops that will consider the same questions around quality and measurement.

- The first will set-up the scene, by reviewing current definitions and tensions in the interpretation of cultural engagement and outlining established research methodologies.
- The second will build on the same questions but with a focus on cultural engagement in physical environments - particularly, the experience of public art and how it differs from a gallery environment
- The third workshop will focus on emerging questions around the impact of virtual environments, in particular, the effect of blurring amateur and professional production as well as the impact of increased interaction and the role of audiences as producers of content

The workshops will involve a core group of 16 participants/speakers who will be involved in the three debates and will have the opportunity to test the methodological and conceptual issues raised in each meeting against their own academic or creative practices.


10 25 50
Description The workshops were successful not just in raising questions and generating debate, but also in encouraging ideas. We've developed some of these ideas into practical recommendations for anyone wanting to measure the impact of cultural engagement - specifically, funders and policymakers.
• Make sure measurement is ?fit for purpose' and context-sensitive. Where appropriate, acknowledge the importance of local factors, rather than insisting on a ?one size fits all' approach. Empower local activists to develop
their own measurement tools.
• Carry out more longitudinal research. Reflective practice should be encouraged: practitioners should be helped to make this kind of evaluation relevant for the audience involved (including finding ways to make it a more interactive and built-in feature of events and experiences). And explore ways of making long-term evaluation more cost-effective or value for money.
• Measure excellence not just according to one set of criteria, but (at least) three: the standards set by artists, funders and audiences. This will allow everything from artistic merit and value for money, to public benefit and ?entertainment factor', to be incorporated into a final assessment - yet only
requires each stakeholder to make a judgement they're sufficiently qualified, or confident, to make.
• Provide more guidelines on why organisations should evaluate in the first place. Help them to understand that evaluation is about more than merely satisfying funders and justifying public funds, and can actually inform their future practice and success.
• Get better at promoting the benefits of culture to other sectors - in language they understand. At the same time, continue to push for wider acknowledgement of its inherent benefits.
Exploitation Route The key recommendations listed above provide a framework so that organisations change their mindset in the way they measure the value of engagement.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy

Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)


Leisure Activities

including Sports

Recreation and Tourism



Museums and Collections

URL http://www.liv.ac.uk/impacts08/complementary-programmes/AHRC_ACE_wshps/ahrcaceimpactworkshops.htm
Description Several of the participants, for instance Tate Liverpool, have gone on to develop dedicated Research Hubs applying our core recommendations
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

Description The workshops have also been fully embedded within the Impacts 08 research Programme at the University of Liverpool. 
Organisation University of Liverpool
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Description Workshops have been linked to other existing projects: The innovative Media for a Digital Economy project, led by Oxford University. 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Description Workshops have been linked to other existing projects: Wildflower project, led by the University of the creative Arts. 
Organisation University for the Creative Arts
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Information taken from Final Report
Description Eurocities | Rock webinar: Culture as a rocket fuel for Urban Regeneration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Webinar dedicated to discussing the impact of cultural interventions in cities, sharing evidence and best practice
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.eurocities.eu/eurocities/news/Join-our-webinar-on-culture-as-a-rocket-fuel-for-urban-rege...
Description Syngrou Network - Co-Creation Workshop in Athens, December 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 30 people attended a co-creation workshop to discuss ways to establish and strengthen the notion of their (at present) congested and traffic-saturated avenue as a new creative hub in Athens
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://syngrou-network.panteion.gr/index.php/83-news/77-co-creation-workshop-14-dec-2019