Shanene Ditton

Griffith University

Shanene DittonShanene Ditton is a PhD student in the School of Humanities and the Griffith Centre for Cultural Research at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. Her research focuses on sustainable cultural networks in dispersed urban geographies. Shanene lectures in sociology, writing and theatre. Shanene is the Chair of the Regional Arts Development Fund on the Gold Coast, and she is involved in various artist-run-initiatives and cultural organisations. Shanene has a background in theatre, music and education.

Cultural Leaders and Community-based Evaluation: Towards the Democratisation of Cultural Measurement on the Gold Coast

Cultural measurement is a problematic form of evaluation, not least because culture is one of the most complex terms in the English vocabulary. Cultural evaluative frameworks are proposed to measure cultural policy but often these miss the mark, so to speak, or outcomes slide away unnoticed. Too frequently, policies and strategies are developed by policymakers and implemented without being adequately reviewed by the communities they are developed for. While they may look good on paper, the outcomes of cultural strategies often have very little currency, positive impact or relevance for intended communities.

My PhD research has exemplified cases on the Gold Coast where this has occurred. The Gold Coast is culturally stigmatised, framed as being creatively deficient; and part of this identity stems from a lack of robust cultural evaluation. As a response to this, in recent times on the Gold Coast an independent and diverse group of cultural leaders has come together with the aim of providing community-based evaluation of cultural policy. Still in its infancy, and with initial seed funding from Economic Development and Major Projects, this collective aims to become an association that will serve as an independent point of contact for the Gold Coast arts community, providing evaluation of cultural policy according to community-driven cultural indicators. This paper will provide an overview of current cultural evaluation on the Gold Coast, alongside a case study of the Gold Coast community-based group (as yet unnamed) as it emerges, in order to reimagine how we might democratise the cultural measuring process, and, cyclically, rethink the making of cultural policy.



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