Big challenges ahead for the major performing arts companies

The Australia Council has released its latest consultancy about the MPO’s. It’s a slightly shallow report full of catch-phrases from internaionally renowned consultancy AEA Consulting (home of some heavy-hitters in the British sector) entitled “Anticipating Change in the Major Performing Arts.”

It’s certainly good that the MPOs are anticipating change in their future – but I’m not sure how prepared they are. Indeed, some sections of the report reveal that some of the organisations are far from the kind of financial health that the Nugent Inquiry was meant to “secure.”

Interestingly, the report contains a sprinkling of statistics on new works, which may be useful for my thesis. It also confirms, anecdotally at least, the operation of Baumol’s cost disease in this sector of the Australian performing arts.

The fuil report is available here.


The UN’s Creative Economy Report 2008

The United Nations’ Conference on Trade and Development has released its Creative Economy Report 2008: The challenge of assessing the creative economy towards informed policy-making.

The report has tons of useful statistics which I’m going be looking at over the next couple of days. it promises to shed significant information on international trade flows in this vital area – not just in cultural goods but in cultural services as well.

From the website:

The 350-pages Report recognizes that creativity and human talent are fast becoming powerful engines for economic growth and development, and calls for the adoption of effective cross-cutting mechanisms and concerted inter-ministerial policy action.

Developing countries around the world can find ways to optimize the potential of the creative economy for generating economic growth, job creation and export earnings while at the same time promoting social inclusion, cultural diversity and human development.

My take on the 2020 Summit “Creative Australia” communique

Over at New Matilda’s PollieGraph blog, I’ve given my analysis of the 2020 “Creative Australia” group’s published communique.

As I discovered when talking to Marcus Westbury last night, the final report doesn’t resemble the discussions that took place, at least according to many who were there. Full details over the fold: Continue reading

Jeanette Snowball’s new mongraph “Measuring the Value of Culture”

South African academic Jeanette Snowball has written a timely and important new monograph entitled Measuring the Value of Culture.

Snowball’s aim in writing this valuable short review is explained in her introduction:

“Economic impact studies are thus one way of measuring the value of arts, but only one way, and it smethodology is not unproblematic. A better way of capturing the non-market value of culture might be to use contingent valuation (willingness to pay) studies or their newer relation, choice experiments (also called conjoint analysis).” (Snowball, 2008: 3).

Unfortunately for my doctorate, such analyses are typically large and expensive and carried out by professional market research firms. Never-the-less, there is much of value for the professional arts administrator and cultural policy academic in this book. It summarises the debate about willingness to pay studies –  in particular , the controversy over the Exxon Valdez environmental damages litigation, where courts used contingent valuation studies as part of their reasoning.

What follows is a detailed analysis of four different ways of measuring culture:

  • “qualititative/historical” – art historical and sociological analyses. Snowball is raher weak here when she dismisses this vast field by pointing out that it “does not result in one, easily comparable figure.”
  • economic impact – Snowball summarises the controversies over the rubbery figures of economic impact studies, especially of arts events like festivals. She correctly points out that the “multipliers” used by many of these studies are so various as to be basically meaningless
  • willingness to pay – in contrast to economic impact studies, willingness to pay or contingent valuation studies represent an imporant methodological advance in the cultural economics literature – however these studies have their own methodological controversies too
  • choice experiments – the newest frontier in valuing culture, incorporating some of the discoveries of behavioural economics, choice experiments are also labour-intensive in their survey methodology.

A major disappointment for me in the book was that Snowball has not examined the micro-economic efficiency studies in the musuems sector of researchers like Stefania Funari and Paul Bishop.  Even so, it remains an important review.