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Numbers, schnumbers: Total cultural value and talking about everything that we do, even culture

Julian Meyrick (School of Humanities and Creative Arts, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia)

International Journal of Event and Festival Management

ISSN: 1758-2954

Article publication date: 15 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is to argue for the importance of separating out three key dimensions of culture’s value – definition, measurement and cultural reporting. This has implications for the balance between quantitative and qualitative methodologies in achieving a meaningful context for interpreting numbers-based cultural data, as well as for the management of reporting regimes – the process by which value is “conferred” – by individual cultural organisations and events. It concludes with a brief sketch of a new set of priorities for assessment processes based on a less unitized, more cooperative understanding of cultural value (a Total Cultural Value exercise)


This paper is a keynote address from the Global Events Congress.


Valuation processes are comparative processes. They involve benchmarking, standardisation, unitisation and ranking. Cultural activities have an incommensurable aspect that makes them resist this kind of assessment and not infrequently make a nonsense of it. This makes it difficult for policy makers to choose between them from a resource perspective. No new proof of worth is going to change this fundamental characteristic of culture. A Total Cultural Value exercise is “allocutionary” and helps cultural programmes “make a case” based on best use of the available data and a meta-cognitive appreciation of the biases different proofs of worth involve.


Total Cultural Value is a new concept developed to bring quantitative and qualitative methods for valuing arts and culture together



Meyrick, J. (2015), "Numbers, schnumbers: Total cultural value and talking about everything that we do, even culture", International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 99-110.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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