Lone Keast

Arts Queensland

Lone KeastLone Keast is Director, Policy, Planning and Performance in Arts Queensland (rated by artsHub as one of the top 10 Australian arts organisations to work for). In this role, Lone is responsible for arts and cultural policy, strategic planning and reporting, research and evaluation of Arts Queensland’s programs. She has more than 20 years experience in social policy and research with previous positions including Director, Strategic Policy and Research, Department of Child Safety; Manager, Policy, Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian and various policy positions within the Department of Education and Training. Currently a key focus is how we can construct and communicate a convincing value proposition for arts and culture to secure and cement continued government and community support of arts and culture to support meaning making, identity formation, challenging status quo and staying in touch with our humanity.

The value of measuring value: using cultural data to advocate for the arts

In recent years there has been a groundswell of interest in developing measures that demonstrate artistic, social and/or economic benefits of arts and culture and their contribution to broader community indicators of wellbeing and sustainability. As we become more adept at collecting data through research and evaluation, we need to start thinking beyond ‘what to measure’ to how we are going to use the data we have to better tell the story of what the arts have to offer.

This paper will present a case study of how Arts Queensland is taking measurement, research and evaluation to the next step of advocacy in some simple and effective ways. Over the past few years Arts Queensland has made a commitment to building its research and evaluation capacity, and that of the broader arts and cultural sector in Queensland, as a strategy to advocate for the value of the arts in an environment where evidence of impact is increasingly being called for. This has involved collecting more rigorous data about the outcomes of our programs, supporting the sector to self-reflect on practice through evaluative case studies and a blog, and investing in research about the public value of the arts.

Recognising the rich picture that can be told with this data, Arts Queensland has developed a suite of advocacy tools to help talk about the impact of the arts to people we need to influence beyond the arts sector – examples include a presentation for local government councillors about the contribution of the arts to community wellbeing; regional snapshots about people’s participation in and attitudes towards the arts; and a fact sheet about the role of the arts in community recovery and rebuilding. We know the arts make a difference on many levels, and tools like these help tell the story in more powerful and convincing ways.

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