Powell, Anna and Swindells, Steve (2016) Measuring the Immeasurable: Articulating the Value of Culture. International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts, 11 (4). pp. 39-47. ISSN 2326-9960

Across the UK there is currently a series of government led initiatives of measuring and documenting the value of culture in relation to social, economic and health infrastructures. The drive to measure cultural value is nothing new, back in 2002 Michelle Reeves, Research Officer for the Arts Council England, drafted an Arts Council England report on “Measuring the Economic and Social Impact of the Arts” in which she proposed, quoting Gerri Moriarty, that one of the most important reasons for monitoring, measuring, assessing and evaluating creative work is the genuine desire “to help to make the complex and intriguing web of creative exchange more visible […] to help us all move forward.”(Reeves 2002: 47) These challenges might be regarded as fundamental to much of the cultural sector both within and outside of academia, relevant not only in relation to the current funding climate, but constituting a more deep-seated profundity; being fundamental to our understanding of how arts and culture “works” in the UK. This paper explores these ideas in relation to the notion of the “civic university,” touching upon the ROTOR partnership exhibitions programme between the University of Huddersfield and Huddersfield Art Gallery as an example of a possible model for working within—and actively addressing—some of these challenges.

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