Centre for Cultural Value

Audience band concert

The Centre for Cultural Value is dedicated to exploring the impacts that the arts and culture have on people, and more broadly on society. It aims to promote an evidence-based approach to cultural policy and planning, and to impact evaluation.

By bringing together world-leading researchers, artists, practitioners, policymakers and leaders from different disciplines, art forms and sectors, the Centre’s mission is to engage a diverse range of stakeholders in rigorous debates and creative practices to transform thinking, policy and professional practice on questions related to cultural value.

Building on existing research, the Centre aims to address the following main questions:

  • Why do arts and culture matter?
  • What difference do they make to people’s lives?
  • How can we evidence their impacts on individuals and communities?

In taking a networked approach, the Centre will stimulate and disseminate research and best practice in a systematic and tailored way across and beyond the arts and cultural sector, and thereby influence public engagement, philanthropy and policymaking. The Centre will engage with its key stakeholders by:

  • acting as a bridge and a conduit for questions relating to cultural value
  • producing a series of knowledge exchange and sandpit events
  • developing a free co-created online portal to capture stories of cultural value
  • developing networks and tailored CPD activities
  • publishing regular blogs and research digests.

It will also offer £200,000 in seed funding to arts and cultural organisations to engage in action research related to their own questions of cultural value.

The remit of the new Centre is broad and it will remain responsive to emerging issues and ideas, but its core activities will cohere around the following themes:

Arts, culture and wellbeing

What are the tangible benefits of arts and culture on people’s wellbeing and physical and mental health? The Centre will consider the role they can play in social prescribing – where GPs and other primary healthcare professionals refer patients to non-clinical services, such as singing, dance groups or art classes.

Culture and regeneration

How can “placemaking” investment in our towns and cities create better places in which to live that support the development of sustainable and diverse communities? What can we learn from the experiences of European Capitals of Culture, the Cultural Olympiad and UK Cities of Culture, as well as from smaller scale initiatives such as Creative People and Places? The Centre for Cultural Value will partner with researchers and practitioners from these cultural events to investigate the short, medium and long-term impact of these initiatives on local, regional and national communities.

Conflict resolution

How can fractured groups in society be brought together through “social healing”? The Centre will consider why, although there is growing consensus that arts and culture develop empathy between people of opposing views, evidence in this area is sketchy and evaluation methods poorly understood and applied.


World-leading companies such as Google say they need more creative thinkers, and yet the creative arts are being squeezed out of the National Curriculum. The Centre will work with arts and cultural producers, teachers and policymakers to explore the increasingly vital role that arts education plays in young people’s personal and professional development.


The Centre is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.


The Centre’s core partners are: The Audience Agency and the Universities of Hull, Sheffield, York, and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Our affiliate partners include: Aesop, Arts Marketing Association, Association of British Orchestras, the BBC, the British Library, the British Film Institute, Contemporary Visual Arts Network, Coventry 2021, Creative & Cultural Skills, Culture Forum North, Eden Court Theatre, Leeds City Council and Leeds 2023, the Museums Association, the National Theatre, National Theatre Scotland, One Dance UK, Opera North/DARE, Queens University Belfast, University of Bristol, University of Highlands & Islands (Inverness), University of Liverpool, UCL, and the University of Warwick.

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