D&D Reporter, 25 January 2014

What Next? Public Action - report from Janet Morris

How to get/facilitate the public to talk about the value of arts & culture?

Practical ideas/ observations

- Why are sports viewed so differently from arts & culture? Is there something we can

learn about how to present arts & culture so that it is part of the public conversation, in

the way that sports are?

- How accessible is the language we use? Do the public think in terms of “arts &

culture”? What is their language?

- In the same vein, should we really be asking the public to articulate in terms of

“value” or “impact”? Should we not be asking them about their experience? Feelings?

What they remember?

- Many different ways to hear from the public; no single “answer”

o Take things to them, rather than asking them to come to you

o Use community centres and further education institutes, where you get a wide range

of people; as well as venues

o Listen to people describing their experiences in their own terms, not in the terms we

want to hear – e.g going to see a play as entertainment or an opportunity to get

together with others; not as an “artistic experience”

- What can we do in practical terms?

o Collect individuals’ stories; find ways to make these stories known beyond the arts

organisations and artists; get the message to decision makers/ politicians (ideally by

those individuals themselves)

o Facilitate spaces where people feel empowered to speak about their experiences,

whatever their level of knowledge about the art

o Demystify the language we use when talking about the arts & culture; take care not

to alienate people or to narrow the definitions

o Actively look for ways to involve younger people, to engage them in a wide range of

arts/culture/heritage/design etc.

o Share information with members of the public, in case they do want to advocate on

our behalf, e.g. “Did you know that…?” Enable subjective opinions/experiences to be

supported by some facts

o Take action at whatever level and on whatever scale is practical – personal,

organisational, local.


Value, what next, change, public, action, value

Comments: 1

Amy Clare Tasker, 25 January 2014

When I was working in a San Francisco theatre, we participated in a season-long study on the “intrinsic impact” of live

performance - doing written and oral qualitative research.

The results of the study are at the link below, and in a book called "Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of



I'd be happy to talk more about the methodology if anyone is interested in replicating the study with their theatre.