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Alexandra Albert

Valuing culture and cultural leadership

Authors: Alexandra Albert Alexandra Albert

09 March 2011

Yesterday’s event at The Work Foundation ( 8 March) on Economics, Culture and Leadership saw both a celebration and a mourning of the soon to be closed Cultural Leadership Programme. Whilst the cultural sector’s investment in good leadership is lagging behind other sectors, the Cultural Leadership Programme has done a great amount of vital, independent and entrepreneurial work to address these issues. What is to become of it now and how can we continue to tackle some of the key leadership issues within the sector?

The discussion also delved into the issues surrounding cultural economics and the economics of culture – not to be confused! It is clear that cultural economics, as a theory of public choice, is not to be shied away from. It should be a holistic approach that takes into consideration numerous different methodologies and not just the regular economic impact assessment. What is at the core here, suggested Ruth Jarratt, Director of Policy Development at the Royal Opera House, is an attempt to understand better the spillovers between cultural and creative industries, so as to enable them to be increasingly entrepreneurial. It is also vital to truly understand what is meant by innovation in the arts and cultural sector.

Whilst there is a growing reaction to the proliferation of economic impact assessments, Nesta’s Hasan Bakhshi warned that ‘we must not throw the economics baby out with the bath water’. The cultural industries cannot afford to disengage with measurement, and they need to guide the emerging evaluation process.

Alexandra Albert is a researcher at The Work Foundation