Using data to inform local government’s work

Data to support local government’s cultural development work:
inputs, outputs and outcomes.

CDN has been working to develop a schema of data about local government’s cultural development work, with the National Local Government Cultural Forum and MAV’s Arts and Culture Committee. This dataset is intended to assist councils to document and assess their own work, reflect on progress over time, and also, where councils wish, to compare with like councils on issues of interest.

The use of agreed set of data for councils will also contribute to larger initiatives, such as the National Local Government Cultural Forum’s representation of local government’s cultural development work nationally.

The National Local Government Cultural Forum (aka Cultural Forum) has worked to develop a dataset of inputs, outputs and outcomes to provide what has been missing from national reporting on cultural development in Australia across arts, libraries and heritage.

  • inputs (resources): what is invested in infrastructure, staffing, grants, etc.,
  • outputs (what happens with those resources), how much of what kind of activity is generated, how many, of what type of people, participate.
  • outcomes (consequences): what are the milestones toward desired future, have intended outcomes been reached.

This schema was trialled by the eight Australian capital cities over 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 as members of the Cultural Forum. Their trial in collecting that data led the Cultural Forum agreeing on a set of core data that will form the headline story of local government’s contribution to cultural life in Australia. In 2017-2018 an additional representative sample of councils across Australia will be invited to join the process and collect and share data, eventually forming a national picture.

Another task has been establishing data about outcomes of this work, that is, what difference the work makes to those who participate and their communities. A schema of measurable outcomes of cultural engagement have been developed by CDN in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Australia through the Department of Communications and the Arts, the Australia Council for the Arts, various state agencies and arts organisations.

CDN is developing an online tool for use by local government cultural development teams that will assist the building and reporting of evidence based, and outcome focused activities to councils and communities. The research and development of agreed inputs, outputs and outcomes will be a core component to this new system.

Victorian councils’ survey 2014-2015

The results of CDN’s survey of local government across Victoria in 2014-2015, including information about cultural development planning, facilities, community leadership and engagement of artists is available in this report.  This survey will be conducted again in Victoria in late 2017 as part of the extension of the data trial nationally and as a follow up on the Victoria only survey of 2015.  

Other information

Other research reports relevant to Australian local government’s cultural development work are available here.