In 2014, the WA Government committed to providing a public account of the quality, reach, impact and value of its investment in the arts and cultural sector through the implementation of its Public Value Measurement Framework.
In the 2016 to 2019 funding period of the Arts Organisations Investment Program (AOIP), organisations and WA Major Performing Arts Companies received access to the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform to collect public feedback on the quality and value of the work they produced.
To provide organisations with benchmarks going into the next four-year investment period of AOIP, Culture Counts aggregated data collected in the previous period. This summary snapshot aggregates the data collected by organisations over a four year period and provides benchmark comparisons for organisations in WA to evaluate and assess the unique impact they deliver for their communities.
Culture Counts is now used by all organisations that receive investment from the WA State Government through the Arts Organisations Investment Program.
Benchmark outcomes data from 37,972 respondents across 263 evaluations.Culture Counts Read the report
In 2011, the WA Department of Arts & Culture required a policy framework that could articulate the benefits and qualities inherent to its investment in arts and cultural activities. Working with Pracsys Economics, the renamed Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) developed a policy referred to as the Public Value Measurement Framework (PVMF).
As part of the third phase of the PVMF development, a prototype software tool was developed that could be used to implement a component of the PVMF; that being a standardised feedback collection mechanism that could collect data in a consistent, and therefore, comparable manner. Culture Counts was later independently established to continue the development of this software (now known as Culture Counts) and maintains its intellectual property, with a license granted to the Department and key organisations it supports.
The consultant team worked with DLGSC to identify the key outputs, outcomes and values created through public investment in arts and culture. This led to modelling the links between the investment policy and the measurement framework proposed. The resulting measurement framework was benchmarked against contemporary research into the ways public funders might measure the tangible and intangible values of their investments. This ensured that the measurement framework DLGSC employed would reflect best practice understanding of benefit definitions and measurement techniques.
Metrics linked to government policy objectives were co-developed and tested through extensive consultation with the cultural sector and academic partners.
As a consequence of this approach, the proposed measurement framework had two important users – firstly, DLGSC, as it attempts to harness the measurement framework for its investment activities, and secondly, the broader arts and cultural sector, in their efforts to measure and articulate the value of their work to the public at large.
The project resulted in the implementation of the public value measurement framework (PVMF) which included standardised metrics and definitions that could be used to measure outcomes of the funded activity. The PVMF metrics and evaluation methodology integrated into the Culture Counts Evaluation Platform. Organisations supported by DLGSC use of the platform voluntary in the 2016 – 2019 funding period.
Data collected by organisations were anonymised, aggregated and analysed by Culture Counts. The evaluation was made mandatory by DLGSC in the 2020 – 2023 funding period for organisations supported through the Arts Organisations Investment Program (AOIP).
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