New Approaches to Cultural Measurement: On Cultural Value, Cultural Participation and Cultural Diversity

Audrey Yue and Rimi Khan


The rising trend in cultural measurement has been driven by the political ideologies of the New Public Management (NPM) and its neoliberal contract between the public sector and the citizen. Arts outputs have been used to assess non-arts outcomes such as economic and social impacts, leading to policy developments that, more often than not, emphasise the instrumental benefits of participation. In particular, policy interest in cultural participation and cultural diversity has emerged from its perceived contributions to increasing migrant social inclusion and community wellbeing, as well as stimulating tourism and the creative industries. This chapter seeks to prob- lematise the instrumentalism of policy by introducing a new approach to examine the value of migrants' cultural engagement.

Drawing from a current Australian Research Council-funded project on the development of an indicator framework for cultural diversity in arts and cultural programmes,1 this chapter proposes a new approach to cultural measurement by considering how migrants acquire cultural capital through participation and, in turn, make claims to cultural citizenship. Using a mixed method of community ethnography and grounded theory to approach cultural evaluation, this chapter shows new domains of cultural participation that are unrepresented in arts and cultural policies. These practices of participation, this chapter argues, reveal the gaps between policy and everyday life, extend arts evaluation's narrow focus on social inclusion and wellbeing, and complicate our understandings of what the role of arts and cultural policy should be in diverse communities. They prompt scholars, policy workers and arts practitioners to ask further: what kinds of belonging and cultural citizenship should policies prioritise? Should these kinds of belonging be central to what we think of as the role of the arts? And should these forms of cultural participation and belonging be more central to evaluation frameworks?

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