The arts review and plan for South Australia

After months of consultation and research, the arts review and plan for South Australia has been released by the South Australian government’s Department of Premier and Cabinet. The report highlights the “richness of arts and culture that exists in our State” and great work done by the cultural sector in South Australia.

Underpinned by four values – visionary leadership, strategic collaboration, embracing diversity and courageous experimentation – the Plan set outs six goals to guide the growth of and investment in the State’s leadership in the arts and cultural sector. Interestingly, the Plan uses elements of narrative storytelling “as a way to provide an alternative perspective through which to view the arts and cultural landscape of South Australia.” Case studies from various perspectives and points of view are also used to “illuminate and celebrate” arts and cultural activities.

Most significantly for the Laboratory Adelaide research project, meaningful ways of measuring the value of arts and culture is a specific area of focus. This priority, “Measure,” is included within Goal 6 (p. 40 of the Plan) and is borne out in full in a section entitled “Capturing value and impact” (pp. 43-43).

This focus follows a recommendation by Tony Grybowski and Graeme Gherashe to:

Develop an evaluation and measurement framework that captures the value of arts and culture, one that builds on and draws together the existing work undertaken in this area.

Recommendation 13.1 p. 91 The Arts Review for South Australia

In making this recommendation, Grybowski and Gherashe refer to the work of the Laboratory Adelaide research project and that of Professor Justin O’Connor (UniSA). Of particular note, one of their suggested initiatives includes:

Progressing Cultural Value frameworks initiated by South Australian researchers in partnership with the South Australian Government

p. 91 The Arts Review for South Australia

The Laboratory Adelaide team welcomes the Arts Review and Plan. It is heartening to see so many substantial ideas put forth, the result not only of extensive consultation, but of deep thinking about the needs of a diverse sector with a past to be proud of, and a future to look forward to.

The Wellbeing Benefits of Arts and Culture: Professor James Pawelski

Adelaide City Council recently hosted Professor James Pawelski of the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania for a three week research trip exploring the wellbeing benefits of arts and culture activities. During his visit, Pawelski participated in a series of meetings and public talks exploring the value of Adelaide’s arts and culture from the perspective of human flourishing. This paradigm for valuing the arts follows 20 years of experience addressing mental health through positive psychology, and in particular the role of the humanities in wellbeing.

Professor Robert Phiddian and Dr Tully Barnett met with Professor Pawelski to discuss how Laboratory Adelaide’s work aligns with that of the Positive Psychology Centre and the concepts of human flourishing. Professor Pawelski cited the Laboratory Adelaide work in his final presentation of his findings. Read more about Professor Pawelski’s visit to Adelaide here and his broader work here.

What’s the Story? “Credible” Narrative in the Evaluation of Arts and Culture, 5 September 2019

In their latest article, published in The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, Julian Meyrick, Tully Barnett, Heather Robinson and Matt Russell consider the relationship between the concept of narrative as a theoretical object, and its use in the practical evaluation of cultural organisations. Following a brief overview of rhetoric and narrative theory, the article suggests that in order for narratives to be a “credible” and forensic instrument of account, certain principles should be followed. The Laboratory Adelaide team sets out six commitments in a proposed Charter of Cultural Reporting:

  1. Commitment to sense making
  2. Commitment to a reporting relationship
  3. Commitment to plain language
  4. Commitment to communicating all types of value creation
  5. Commitment to improved integration of quantitative and qualitative information
  6. Commitment to reporting on the meaning of culture, not just its economic and social effects

Read the full article here: or get in touch for more information

“A different kind of dialogue” – article in Arts Professional UK, 18 October 2018

“It is time for everyone who cares about arts and culture to get out of the brace position and come alive to a dialogue about their inherent value.”

In Arts Professional (UK) Julian Meyrick discusses the problems associated with assessing cultural value arguing that we “are stuck in a financially reductionist ‘value = money’ orbit. We should be examining people’s experiences of culture, and the meaning that comes from those experiences”.

The article can be accessed here.

Issues raised are discussed in the recent book What Matters? Talking Value in Australian Culture published by Monash University Publishing. Authored by Julian Meyrick, Robert Phiddian and Tully Barnett. The book is available for purchase here.

Julian Meyrick in conversation with Peter Goers on ABC Radio Adelaide

Julian Meyrick appeared for an interview with Peter Goers on Evenings with Peter Goers, ABC Radio Adelaide. The interview appears approximately mid-way through the three-hour program which can be downloaded here.

What Matters? Talking Value in Australian Culture is a new book released by Monash University Publishing, authored by Julian MeyrickRobert Phiddian and Tully Barnett. Copies are available for purchase here.

Presentation at State Library Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Value of Culture: Rethinking value for cultural organisations

In recent decades, the concept of value has been distorted across many sectors, including the arts. There is no quick, methodological fix to this problem of communicating value. Instead, there is a need for a richer discussion.

“Laboratory Adelaide: the Value of Culture” is about to launch into its second phase of research. For the last three years, this project has explored the challenges faced by the cultural sector when required to prove its worth. Flinders University’s Tully Barnett and Heather Robinson will share some of the key findings from the first phase of research conducted in partnership with the State Library of South Australia, the State Theatre Company of South Australia and the Adelaide Festival. We invite practitioners and professionals from across the cultural sector of South Australia to share our findings and gather feedback on what needs to be done to embed better ways of communicating the value and meaning of what we do for the long-term benefit our sector and our community.

Presented by the State Library of South Australia

Details on the event and registration to attend available here.

“WHAT THE STATE BUDGET CUTS MEAN FOR THE ARTS” The Advertiser, 9 September 2018

Julian Meyrick writes for The Advertiser, Adelaide’s daily newspaper on the topic of the recently released State Budget (SA). The articles is available online for subscribers (paid access) here.

“THE State Budget signalled major changes for the arts in South Australia, writes Julian Meyrick. And if the cuts weren’t as savage as prior rumour suggested, they were still pretty awful.”

Interview with Vision Australia Radio, first aired 10 September 2018, now available as podcast

Vision Radio Australia presenter Chris Thompson interviews Julian Meyrick for their arts show, Behind the Scenes, now available to listen to here.

The discussion centres around the topics covered and questions raised in What Matters? Talking Value in Australian Culture authored by Julian Meyrick, Robert Phiddian and Tully Barnett, and published by Monash University Publishing. Copies of the book are available for purchased here.

The Vision Australia Radio Network incorporates ten community radio stations across Victoria, southern New South Wales, Adelaide and Perth. “We offer a range of interesting and informative programs including readings from newspapers, magazines and books, interview and specialist programs on new technology, gardening, finance, travel, wine and food, the arts and more, you’re sure to find something of interest.” For Adelaide listeners, tune into 1197 AM. Information on Vision Australia Radio is available here.

Julian Meyrick and Tully Barnett appear on ABC Television show The Mix, 8 September

Julian Meyrick and Tully Barnett engage in a lively debate about measuring value in the arts during The Filter segment on The Mix episode screened 8 September 2018. The episode can be accessed (via ABC iview) here.

(The Filter segment appears approximately 15 minutes into the episode.)

Julian and Tully were invited to appear on The Mix to discuss issues raised in the recent publication What Matters? Talking Value in Australian Culture published by Monash University Publishing, authored by Julian Meyrick, Robert Phiddian and Tully Barnett. The book can be ordered online here.