Evidence about the cause or origins of the issue

We need evidence about the cause or origins of an issue, either in our area or elsewhere, that can inform us.

To begin the process of using evidence to inform planning, look first in your Council Plan or other strategic documents, as Council is likely to be paying attention to these issues.

For example, if Council is seeking to address issues about liveability in the LGA, strategic documents should include evidence about factors that contribute to greater or lesser liveability, and have contributed to the level of liveability or perceived liveability in the LGA.

This might include issues that are within the scope of the Cultural Development Department, such as activities that older adults can enjoy in their retirement, but also others that are outside our scope, for example, related to transport frequency, or availability of medical care.

If the Council Plan does not include information that is relevant to our scope, we might undertake some research that tells us about aspects of liveability that are within our Department’s scope.

Baseline: where are we now in relation to our objective?

We need to understand where we are now in relation to our objective/s.

There are many places where information to help you establish a baseline can be found. Council Plans and other strategic documents are the most likely place, as Council is most likely to have undertaken research that informs its strategic direction. Some of these sites include:

  • Other peak bodies and specialist agencies, especially for very recent datasets. These include:

Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (n.d.).  Healthy community indicators Canberra: AIHW.
An interactive site that lets you see how your local health area is performing and how it compares against other similar areas.

Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (2016). Healthy Communities: Overweight and obesity rates across Australia, 2014–15. Canberra: AIHW.

Justice Reconnect (2016). The JR Calculator.
Provides comparative data on a number of issues that affect the economic, health and social well-being of a community and spending on corrective services in a community. NSW only.

Mission Australia (2016). Annual Youth Survey.
This new report provides information about issues that concern young people, although again not at local government level.

Regional Australia Institute (2016). Australia’s regional competitiveness index.
An online interactive map to unlock insights into regional performance, snapshots the competitiveness of Australia’s Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Regional Development Australia (RDA) regions by highlighting data and rankings for ten themes and 68 indicators. Includes no measures about culture, arts or creativity.

Regional Australia Institute (2016). Inform: Australia’s Online Library of Regional Research
This on-line database brings together more than 2,000 publications on issues that are vital to regional Australia.

Scanlon Foundation (2016). Australians Today.
This new report provides data about the experiences of migrants in Australia on the topics: life satisfaction, economic status, identification with Australia, trust and experiences of discrimination, although unfortunately not at LGA level.

About arts and arts participation

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)( 2014). Cultural Attendance and Participation
Data to the sub-state geographic regions of Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4), compiled from data collected in the ABS 2013-14 Multipurpose Household survey which included the self-contained topics:
-Attendance at selected cultural venues and events, including performing arts, music, art galleries, museums, libraries, cinemas and environmental heritage venues and event:
-Participation in selected cultural activities, including doing performing arts, music, dancing, writing, visual art and craft activities


Australia Council for the Arts (2017). Connecting AustraliansResults of the National Arts Participation Survey. Sydney: Australia Council for the Arts.
This survey is part of a regular series that provides detailed information on how Australians participate in the arts and their attitudes to the arts, to help the arts sector understand its audiences and policy makers understand its value to the public.

Cultural mapping

Cultural mapping is a process that can be undertaken to document cultural assets including infrastructure, organisations, providers and items of interest. ‘This can provide valuable data to underpin the planning process, enabling identification of strengths and weaknesses of the cultural sector, cultural provision and ‘treasures’, and underpin targetted approaches in responses. Asset mapping,’ or documenting ‘cultural treasures’ can be a first step in working with a community, identifying a baseline of cultural assets.

Cultural mapping should always be done with a clear intention, with planners asking themselves, ‘how can this process help us achieve our/ our community’s goals’?  It has little value as an exercise on its own, with planners needing to be mindful of its use of valuable public resources.

Resources that can support effective cultural mapping include:

Duxbury, N. & Longley, A. (eds) (2016) Mapping Culture: Making the Intangible Visible, City, Culture and Society.
This volume by renowned cultural development scholar Nancy Duxbury includes chapters:

Mapping cultural intangibles; Cultural mapping as a development tool; Measuring the non-measurable: On mapping subjectivities in urban research; Mapping the Pig Tale Journey: A multidisciplinary design framework for cultural mapping in an old abattoir; Story-telling about place: Engaging citizens in cultural mapping; Mapping community identity: Safeguarding the memories of a city’s downtown core; Cultural editing for creativity: A framework to associate person/thing, event, road and memories

Examples include:

Project Willowbrook in Los Angeles, documented in a book of neighbourhood ‘treasures’: Willowbrook is/Willowbrook es and cultural mapping tool Geoloom developed in the city of Baltimore, USA, for its own use.

Evidence about the solution:


We need to know what initiatives have been effective in addressing this issue or problem previously (outcome studies)

Decide on keywords to search that will address your question. Search for articles that include those keywords.

Look particularly for outcome studies- articles that address the issue and offer some information about a solution. When you find a relevant article, consider what it tells you about the issue: what change or development occurred or was discussed?

Some sources of information include

– Google Scholar;

– CultureCase;

– CASE – Culture and Sport Evidence Programme (England)

– Specific meta-analyses, literature reviews or research projects such as:

Evidence about processes: what contributes to the change we seek?

We need to know what processes have contributed to change (either positive or negative) in previous initiatives (process evaluation and outcomes studies)

Consider what the article tells us about processes of change:

What happened within this initiative that seemed to be a causal factor in the change? Or what do the authors recommend? This will help you think about what you might do to address a similar issue.