The Social Impact of the Arts Programs and How They Measure Up

Resource Details
Publication Date: 
January 1996
Deidre Williams
Number of Pages: 

The Social Impact of Arts Programs and How They Measure Up, a product of Comedia Publications Ltd., addresses key issues in contemporary arts practice, with particular attention to Australia, including the social purpose and value of participatory arts, through case studies and related research. The paper aims to develop a methodology for evaluating the social impact of arts programs and to begin to assess that impact in key areas by:


  • Establishing a number of case studies to evaluate the social impact of specific programs and the assessment structures within which they operate.
  • Reviewing existing literature on social impact in relation to arts programs alongside comparable thinking in other fields.
  • Providing a background analysis of the value of arts programs in achieving social outcomes more commonly targeted through other forms of intervention.
  • Stimulating a debate around the social impact of arts programs through the publication of working papers and seminars.
  • Publishing a comprehensive report outlining the findings of the research and proposing a workable methodology for the evaluation of the social impact of arts programs.


This paper clearly identifies outcomes of community based art that are relevant to the following themes:


Improved communication of ideas and information

• Improved skills in planning and organizing activities

• Improved understanding of different cultures or lifestyles

• Improved consultation between government and community

• Increased appreciation of community arts


In addition, each outcome is supported by a relevant case study that includes metrics to substantiate its claims.


As this paper suggests, new social and economic challenges will demand evaluation that reflects a balance between productivity and social maintenance. The need for evaluative frameworks that can reflect the scope and outcomes of the work is vital.


The paper offers an extensive and user-friendly outcome/indicators chart that can be used by practitioners to identify specific themes within a wide range of projects.

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