Marnie Badham

Centre for Cultural Partnerships in the Faculty of VCA and MCM, University of Melbourne

Marnie BadhamOriginally from Canada, Marnie Badham is an artist and cultural researcher exploring the impact of representational practice (policy, art, research) with marginalized communities. She is also a Research Fellow on a 3-year ARC-funded project examining the effective evaluation of community-based arts projects, in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts and RMIT University. Her recent publications include: _Navigating Aesthetics, Cultural Theory and Policy Narratives: the case for socially engaged arts_ (Global Local Journal, 2010) and _Cultural Indicators: a tool for community engagement?_ (Journal for Arts and Society, 2009). Marnie publishes and presents internationally, while maintaining an active creative practice including recent socially-engaged art works: _Stories from Home _(artist residency/ exhibition, West Heidelberg, AUS, 2011) and _NeighbourHOOD _(public art/ film, Regina, CAN, 2010).

A Bottom-up Approach to Cultural Indicators in Canada’s worst Neighbourhood: a situated approach to evaluation practice

Comparative indicators and frameworks of cultural measurement intend to help us understand if we are meeting our goals. But what does it mean when some else sets the rules and you come in last? Decision makers are tasked to benchmark cultural and community progress, but it has become clear that measures of mainstream cultural participation are not always relevant and definitions of community wellbeing are not universal. External benchmarks can contradict local priorities. This paper argues that cultural indicators can be used as a tool for citizen engagement by asking residents “how you know your neighbourhood is getting better.” Within this burgeoning field of cultural indicators, this paper offers a more situated and democratized approach to cultural metrics. The community f North Central once called “the worst neighbourhood in Canada,” but for many who live and work there it is a place of resilience, cultural vitality, and community strength. While some politicians and service organizations use this label to mobilize external resources, there are serious implications of this stigma on residents. In light of these wicked problems, this research project asked residents to determine their own measures of success: how _THEY KNEW_ if their neighbourhood was getting better. Responses ranged from “more artists per capita” as a measure of cultural vitality, “knowing your neighbours by name” as a measure of community connectedness, to “less police sirens” as a measure of safety. As a deliberative democracy project, this research engaged residents, community organizations, and decision makers in dialogue to start to develop a shared understanding of progress.



Kitka Web Design