We’ve got several big projects on the boil, all developed over a long time to support local government cultural development professionals to be more effective in their work. None of them are ready for use by the wider profession, but are in trial with individual councils. These include:
- Data collection systems
- Inputs and outputs: A data schema for counting inputs, outputs of local government cultural development activity Over 2014-2017 members of the National Local Government Cultural Forum worked to identify and collect a set of headline data that tells the story of local government’s contribution to cultural life in Australia. The set included key inputs (resources applied) and outputs (activities and commitments) that could be collected and used to define this scope, based on council-led cultural development activities across arts, libraries and heritage. In late 2017 a statically valid sample of 70 councils across all jurisdictions in Australia were invited to partake in the data collection. Local Government Associations and Capital Cities in each jurisdiction worked with the Cultural Development Network to support sample councils to participate in this trial. The completion of the first round of the expanded data collection across Australian councils was a significant achievement, being the first time that the scope of local government’s contribution to cultural life in Australia was presented beyond the aggregate expenditure on culture and heritage. The completion of the data collection also confirmed the classification of 43 ‘activity’ types are common across local governments in Australia. A set of recommendations have been compiled based on feedback from participating councils. These recommendations and lessons learned from Stage 3 of the project will inform Stage 4 of the trials set to commence in late 2018 and open for all Australian councils to participate. The Cultural Forum is funded by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its Arts funding agency and both the Australia Council and the Department of Communications and the Arts sit on the Cultural Forum along with ALGA, the seven jurisdiction LG associations and the eight capital cities. For more information about this project please email: contact@culturaldevelopment.
- Outcomes framework: a method for assessing outcomes of cultural activity CDN has also been developing a system for measuring outcomes of cultural activity, with the National Local Government Cultural Forum. This outcomes framework includes a set of measurable cultural outcomes, as well as outcomes across the social, civic, environmental and economic domains. Members of the Forum endorsed a set of measurable cultural outcomes in 2016 which are now being trialled in the field by a number of local governments, arts organisations and cultural institutions. Research is also currently being carried out to refine the economic outcomes within this schema. You can learn more about this schema as it is being developed by visiting the outcomes page of the CDN website.
- Cultural development planning – CDN has developed an on-line resource for local government cultural development planning. CDN encourages councils to use this CDN Framework to build their cultural development plans. The CDN Framework is based around six planning principles, the recognition of five domains of public policy and a set of unique measurable outcomes for evaluation. In addition, the Framework has been designed to respond to Council Plan and strategically guides the creation of annual business plans and specific project plans. More details
- WhiteBox: outcomes planning platform is an online planning, evaluation and recording system being built for the cultural development sector (arts, libraries, heritage etc.) in local government, regional and national governments’ agencies and cultural institutions and independent producers. The development of this system is in response to demand from our sector for better and simpler evaluation that is consistent and usable in any setting. CDN’s research and development has brought together key planning principles (Cultural Development Planning) and our schema of measurable outcomes (Measurable Outcomes) to build the first shared outcomes focused planning platform. Trials commenced late 2017 and will continue through 2018. More details
- Cultural impact assessment framework A related project to the above data collection systems is a framework for cultural impact assessment (CIA). This is being undertaken in response to findings of an international literature review on CIA – more details here – that indicated that there is no well established system of CIA in use in local government around the world, although impact assessments in other domains (social, economic and environmental are used frequently. The first outing of these ideas was a presentation made by CDN at the International Conference on Cultural Policy Research in Korea in July 2016. A journal article with full explication of the ideas is in development.