Understanding Cultural Value: The Amateur and Voluntary Arts

Expert Workshop: Amateur Arts and Voluntary Arts

Start date: 1 February 2014
End date: 31 May 2014

Over 6 million people in the UK regularly actively participate in amateur and voluntary artistic creation across a wide range of art forms and cultural activities, yet this aspect of cultural engagement is frequently neglected or denigrated by the value structures of formal cultural provision. As part of the AHRC Cultural Value Project, led by Professor Geoffrey Crossick, this project brought together an expert panel of key academics, stakeholders, cultural policy makers, and funders who have been actively engaged in reflecting on modes of amateur cultural experience and engagement. The panel set out to assess both parameters for ways in which we might value the amateur and voluntary arts, and to examine syntheses with other modes of cultural valuation in the subsidized and commercial sectors.

The expert workshop day was held on 21 March 2014.

The day began with key‐note presentations from François Matarasso, with responses from Andrew Mowlah (Senior Manager, Policy & Research at Arts Council England) and Katherine Hudson (Head of Policy and Strategy, The Art Fund). Formal presentations were followed by an open forum debate around three key questions on cultural value and the amateur and voluntary arts, namely:

Does artistic activity in this field differ from other kinds of cultural experience and cultural value?

What range of evaluative methodologies is appropriate for artistic and cultural engagement in amateur and voluntary arts?

What types of evidence emerge from this field of artistic and cultural engagement?

Participants were:

  • Barbara Beaton, Social Audit Network
  • Prof Geoffrey Crossick, University of London & Director AHRC Cultural Value Project
  • Dr Jerri Daboo, University of Exeter
  • Dr Claire Donovan, Brunel University
  • Barbara Eifler, Executive Director, Making Music
  • Prof Hamish Fyfe, University of South Wales
  • Prof Nadine Holdsworth, University of Warwick
  • Katherine Hudson, Head of Policy and Strategy, The Art Fund
  • Pippa Jones, Director, Create Gloucestershire
  • Tim Joss, Director, Rayne Foundation
  • François Matarasso, Independent writer consultant, Visiting Fellow Robert Gordon University
  • Angus McCabe, Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Jane Milling, University of Exeter
  • Andrew Mowlah, Senior Manager, Policy & Research at Arts Council England
  • Prof Helen Nicholson, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Robin Simpson, Chief Executive, Voluntary Arts
  • Katy Spicer, Chief Executive, English Folk Song and Dance Society
  • Elizabeth Whitehouse, Chief Executive, Quilters Guild