Cultural indicators for local government


CDN has been working to establish a framework for measuring the contribution of culture in the local government context since 2007.


The National Local Government Cultural Forum has been working on a an agreed framework for measuring the inputs (investment) and outputs (activities) for local government’s cultural development activity across Australia. This process was also informed by a working group of senior officers from the Municipal Association of Victoria’s Arts and Culture Committee.

The development phase and trials were completed in 2015, with the final set of measures agreed at the group’s meeting in April 2016. Cultural development departments from all eight capital cities will trial collection of data against those measures and report back to the Forum in November 2016, regarding the usability and usefulness of the schema. LGAs across Australia will then be invited to collect data against those measures, to enable for the first time, a comprehensive system of measurement of Australian local governments’ cultural development investment and activities.

An additional process has been undertaken to develop a set of measures of the outcomes (what difference it makes) of this activity. A set of five measures of the cultural outcomes of cultural activity were agreed through a process of negotiation with major stakeholders including the Australia Council for the Arts, the Ministry for the Arts, other state and local government agencies and the National Local Government Cultural Forum.


CDN developed two papers as the basis for discussion about a potential set of indicators for local government’s cultural development work.

Part A:  an international literature review on cultural and arts indicators, focussing on local government
Part B: draft framework of arts indicators for local government, part 1 2

CDN’s Program Manager Kim Dunphy made a presentation about this framework at the International Conference for Cultural Policy, in Jyvaskyla Finland in August 2010. Presentation / talk

In 2010, two discussion groups with local government managers and interested others were held to assist CDN in refining ideas.  At the first roundtable discussion, the group confirmed that:

  • local government arts staff think that a framework of arts indicators would be useful
  • a variety of uses of such a framework include advocacy, measuring change over time, comparing between areas or contexts, planning and policy making
  • regulatory frameworks for local government (such as the Essential Services Commission framework being developed) could include cultural indicators along with all other aspects of local government’s work.

A second discussion group considered what such a framework of indicators contain and what data could be used.

Article on related topic:
Kim Dunphy (2010) How can the impact of cultural development work be measured: Towards more effective planning and evaluation strategies, Local-Global journal, ReGenerating Community: Arts, community and governance, Volume 7.


An early forum on the topic of cultural indicators for local government was convened by CDN and led by indicators expert Mike Salvaris in 2007. Report here