Details on article

Id 208
Author Badham, M.,
Title Cultural Indicators: Tools for Community Engagement?

Badham, M. (2009). "Cultural Indicators: Tools for Community Engagement?" The International Journal of the Arts in Society 3(5).

Keywords Cultural Indicators; Cultural Democracy; Community Engagement
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Abstract As our world becomes more heterogenous and experiences ongoing conflict, “Whose culture is valued?” is a crucial question. Traditionally, mainstream culture has been exclusive, dominated by the tastes of the powerful, manifesting in built environments, social interactions, and interpretation of history. Without understanding culture more broadly as “ways of life”, the potential to develop creative and resilient societies may be lost. Indicators attempt to measure progress, with respect to our goals and values: where we have been, where we are now, and where we anticipate going in the future. Post-industrial society has concerned itself not only with economic measurement, but now also social performance. Today, here are many notable efforts reflecting unique community values, community progress, promoting engagement and evidence based policy development. There are also numerous shortcomings in this field, including major conceptual challenges and the issue of statistics, which can be subject to various configurations and interpretation. This paper presents an overview of Cultural Indicators contexts: comparative community wellbeing frameworks based on government policy priorities (Australia, Canada), broad international goals for cultural development and human rights (UNESCO, OECD), and creative indexes of cities for marketing purposes (China, USA). Critical analysis will evaluate their conceptual frameworks, methods of engagement, intended audience, scope, collection of data, and interpretations of “culture”. The research suggests that there may be a more useful approach to cultural indicators. The paper is also interested in a number of emerging initiatives in which cultural indicators can be tools for community engagement and cultural democracy. The paper concludes with offerings of innovative research into catalytic engagement processes with underserved communities and future impacts on public policy.

Metodology Critical analysis of different Cultural Indicators contexts around the world

Findings The author recognizes that the Cultural Indicator field is complex and under theorized. What is truly lacking is an accepted definition of what ‘culture’ really is. Our challenges in measurement are really about knowing what we want to measure: arts participation, cultural policy outcomes, or progress in human development. The question remains: how can we measure cultural change – and - do we even want to? While this paper provides a only surface reading of international practice and literature, it strongly concludes that the sustained and systematic development of Cultural Indicators may lead to better understanding of the role of culture in society.The research suggests that engaging community in ‘things that really matter’ can stimulate positive social change. A broad and inclusive approach to understanding culture may include a range of typically unheard voices in articulating their shared local fate(s). And perhaps the most important lesson learned is that indicators linked to a theoretical framework and policy goals can provide citizens and decision makers with important evidence based data to bring attention to important local issues, allocate resources or measure change over time. This reciprocal democratic policy-making and reporting tool can help shape our shared values and appreciate our differences.This paper is really a proposal for turning Cultural Indicators upside down: a new model for policymaking and an entirely different perspective on measurement – one of local self determination – and about dialogue.
Open Access YES
DOI DOI: 10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v03i05/35525
Search Database Snowball
Technique Document analysis; Desk research
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