Arts indicators / Well-being / Social benefits

Volume: 12 Issue: 4

In this issue: A number of recent reports have provided indexes and indicators of cultural and social well-being. This issue highlights two arts-specific reports, including an American arts index and a proposed set of cultural indicators for Australia. The issue also examines whether and how culture is integrated into two international indexes of social progress and well-being.

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  • An Annual Measure of the Vitality of Arts and Culture in the United States: 1998-2010

    The National Arts Index attempts to measure “the health and vitality of the arts in the U.S.” The report, released in 2012 and based largely on 2010 data, incorporates 83 equally-weighted national indicators across four key dimensions: financial flows; capacity; arts participation; and competitiveness. The report covers data from 1998 to 2010, with the base year being 2003 (when the index was set to 100). In 2010, the National Arts Index value was 96.7, the second-lowest level since 1998. The highest index values occurred in 2007 (103.4) and 1999 (103.3).

  • First edition – for consultation

    This Australian report aims “to deliver a tool to enable governments, the [cultural] sector and the community to monitor the achievements of the sector, the role arts and culture play in economic and social agendas, and the vitality and cultural impact of Australian arts and cultural output”. Based on “extensive research on international developments in cultural measurement”, the study examines what indicators are available and relevant in an Australian context. Sixteen high-level cultural indicators, grouped under three main themes, are outlined in the report.

  • Arguing that key economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product have “failed to capture many of the factors that influence people's lives”, this comparative international report attempts to provide “a better understanding of what drives the well-being of people and nations and what needs to be done to achieve greater progress for all”. The index is comprised of 24 indicators within 11 dimensions. Only one of the indicators includes cultural elements.

  • This comparative international report attempts to contribute to a fuller understanding of social and economic development by “measuring the things that really matter to people – their basic needs, their food, shelter and security; their access to healthcare, education, and a healthy environment; their opportunity to improve their lives”. The Social Progress Index includes 12 equally-weighted components within three key dimensions: “basic human needs”, “foundations of wellbeing”, and “opportunity”. The Index captures a total of 52 non-economic indicators but none related to the arts and culture.