Measuring Cultural Engagement: A Quest for New Terms, Tools, and Techniques

Summary of a Joint Research Symposium titled “Measuring Cultural Engagement amid Confounding Variables: A Reality Check,” held at the Gallup headquarters in Washington, DC, June 2–3, 2014.

Governments and cultural institutions often measure public engagement in the arts, though it is a costly endeavor whose purpose is not always clear. Innovative artistic media and changes in audience demographics and behavior patterns present new methodological challenges. Rising costs of household surveys, the availability of big data, and fresh doubts about traditional assumptions add to the need to develop new approaches.

To explore these topics, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Cultural Value Project (CVP) of the United Kingdom’s Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) convened a symposium of leading researchers, practitioners, and policymakers from a handful of countries. The event aimed to challenge assumptions about how and why public involvement in arts and culture is measured and to identify research needs and opportunities to promote more meaningful measurement.

Measuring Cultural Engagement: A Quest for New Terms, Tools, and Techniques


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