ISBN: 978-0-7287-1544-8

Understanding the value and impacts of cultural experiences: A literature review

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Brown A S, Carnwath J D

Year of Publication:

Arts Council England

Publication Type:


This Arts Council England report examines: 1) how individuals benefit from cultural participation and
2) the creative capacities of arts and cultural organisations to produce work that has impact.

The authors begin by examining theoretical frameworks that can be used to understand ‘value’ in relation to arts and culture: value for individuals; the value represented by cultural organisations, and value to wider society of a cultural sector.

Individual impacts from participation in cultural activities can be assessed in a number of ways: biometric assessment, post-event surveys, post-event qualitative interviews and retrospective studies. The authors consider the advantages and limitations of each approach.

Five main categories of individual impact are usefully distinguished: engagement, personal significance, learning, aesthetics and social connection.

A temporal perspective on impact is also presented, with distinctions drawn between concurrent impacts, experienced impacts and extended impacts, with cumulative impacts of multiple engagement in cultural experiences over time.

The authors note that there are many questions that are still to be addressed through research – and twelve areas for future study are given.

Evidence Type: Literature Review

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Literature Review

Context: Community

Participant Group: Adults

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Carnwath, J.D. and Brown, A.S. (2014). Understanding the Value and Impacts of Cultural Experiences: A Literature Review. London: Arts Council England.