Economics, Culture and Leadership

Attended a great event last week, which was ostensibly to launch The Economics of Cultural leadership: An economic impact assessment of the Cultural Leadership Programme, and debate how we assess the benefits of leadership development. It did absolutely both of theses things, but it also evolved into a celebration and wake for the great work of the  CLP, the closure of which in March had been announced a few days previously; and a fanastic disscussion of how we could use broader measures than simply economic impact studies to capture the value of arts and culture (and warning that if we dont grasp the opportunity to do so soon it may be too late).

It was orgnised by the Work Foundation and it was a delight to hear from the inspirational Will Hutton in person, as well as Hasan Bakhshi from NESTA, Ruth Jarratt from the ROH, Ben Reid from the Work Foundation and David Kershaw from the CLP.

My take-aways:

A plea for assessing the economic value of culture not just the economic impact. And related to this, a warning that economic impact studies, which are only as good as the worst    – you know who you are flimsy multipliers and exaggerated claims  – are increasingly not believed by funders.

We need a ‘Frascati’ moment in arts and culture (yes, the home of the Italian wine of the same name). This was the location of,  apparently, a meeting of leaders from the sciene and technology sectors at which they  created their own set of measures by which their impact and success could be measured by government – and lo and behold their measures were taken on board. Rather than fitting into a different stakeholders’ various  measures (instrumental, economic, intrinsic, social  etc) what is stopping our leaders working together as a sector to create a set of agreed meaures of the impacts of arts and culture? Its not like we are lacking the brains – ( the people in that room could do it) – but what about the will ?

A warning that if we don’t seize this opportunity we could be in the same position as medical research, the impact of which is measured by the profits of pharmaceutical companies rather than the number of lives saved…