This schema of measurable outcomes of cultural engagement is based on the premise that cultural products and activities do not hold intrinsic value in and of themselves. Value is generated or experienced as humans engage with the artwork or experience, with different individuals perceiving or receiving this value in different ways. Therefore, the outcomes are not assessing ‘quality’ or ‘excellence’ of the cultural experience, but the impact on the person who engages with it.
This schema posits five domains (cultural, social, economic, environmental and governance), of public policy and activity. All activity can be considered as initiating in one or other of those domains, and all outcomes can also be categorised within them. Activities are assumed to have outcome/s in the domain in which they are sited, but they may also have outcomes in other domains, depending on their focus. For example, cultural activities obviously have cultural outcomes, but may also have economic and social outcomes.
In this approach, it is assumed that outcomes occur at an individual level, which, when aggregated, can become community, society or population level change. This is distinct from many other evaluation approaches that posit that there is different types of change at different levels (e.g. Brown 2006; O’Hagan 2016). Thus, data can be elicited by understanding the experience of individual participants, either by direct questioning, participant observation or other methods.
This schema has been developed to facilitate measurement of outcomes of cultural engagement, including arts participation, across the spectrum from ambient to creative and receptive participation. The measurable outcomes enable government and arts agencies to undertake outcome-focussed planning and evaluate their progress in meeting desired outcomes. This schema enables the contributions of cultural engagement to be assessed using a systemised approach. This, in turn, enables organisations to understand how effective they are being in achieving their objectives, thus contributing to evidence-based practice, which is increasingly required by funders and decision-makers.
Evaluation methods that could be used are offered in this detailed resource. Examples of activities that could be supported by policy makers and funders to contribute towards each outcome are listed. These outcomes and measures are mapped to other measurement schema, and supported by Theory and Evidence from outcome studies, along with Processes documented as contributing to this outcome.