Exploring Cultural Value

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Contemporary Issues for Theory and Practice

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(17 chapters)

Prelims

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Introduction

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Part 1 Ways of Thinking about Cultural Value

Abstract

In the contemporary visual art market, for art to be valuable, it must be deemed authentic. In this chapter, we deconstruct the space within which the authentication of art takes place to understand the structural underpinnings of value and its ideological foundations. Through a three-part model, we demonstrate how authenticity in the art market, as a socially constructed concept, relies on the interpretation of cultural brokers who demonstrate recognition of the artist's vision in the work by placing it within an art context and thus legitimising it as culturally valuable. In our spatial analysis, we illustrate the complexity of visual art products and their valuation, demonstrating how authenticity operates through multiple dimensions. Ultimately, we demonstrate that authenticity is an autopoietic market practice which serves to further monopolise power.

Abstract

In this chapter, we consider dominant arguments for the ‘disaggregation’ of the value of culture into discrete dimensions – economic, social, environmental, heritage and cultural and so forth – and their separate measurement. We discuss the role of proxies in assessment processes (‘parts’) and their relationship to the cultural experiences (‘wholes’) for which they are taken to be representative indicators. Disaggregation encourages a divisible approach to cultural activities that, at their heart, present as non-divisible experiences. Thus, we should speak of ‘culture's value’ as opposed to ‘cultural value’ as a way of highlighting a crucial methodological point – that arts and culture are more than the sum of their parts and that the assessment of a particular cultural activity must consider not only the benefits returned by its separate dimensions but also the activity's overall purpose, scope and place in the world. These non-divisible, often non-measurable, contextual features should not be considered contingent externalities but as sense-providing parameters that give meaning to any numerical data whatsoever. We conclude by looking at the issue via an example of a recent stage play from South Australia, Mi:Wi 3027 written by Ngarrindjeri playwright Glenn Shea and commissioned by Country Arts South Australia. The values of the drama cannot be and should not be distinguished from its value, and assessment processes must therefore look to frame the primary cultural experience it embodies in ways that make sense of its purpose, scope and place in the world.

Abstract

In this chapter, we focus on the three examples of ‘destructive’ art by contemporary artists Ai Weiwei, Michael Landy and Banksy to unpack issues of dematerialisation. By adopting the lens of object-oriented ontology, we reveal the hidden agency of artworks as objects. We find that artworks are charismatic objects that are alive to infinite possibilities and interpretations. As this meaning changes over time, we argue that any attempt at measuring or pinpointing cultural value is bound to fail. Instead, we suggest a need for further consideration of how art can operate as a hypo-object, presenting us with new perspectives on the world.

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Abstract

In this chapter, we develop a conceptual framework on how cultural value can be lost in conflict and created by the arts, artists and arts organisations again and how the arts may also help victims of conflict. We explore examples of the different ways that the effects of cultural engagement are manifested and articulated in the depiction of armed conflict, especially looking at the civil war in Syria (2011–present as of 2020) and discuss three stages in the life-cycle of cultural value. Our conceptual framework of cultural value in the depiction of armed conflict is based on the multifaceted private, public, intrinsic and instrumental benefits of the arts as well as the cultural value created by arts, artists and arts organisations. We discuss universal value at the first stage of a potential loss of cultural value. The second stage addresses the politics of aesthetic value, as the cultural value created by artists and artistic activities which may evolve during armed conflict with examples of two international war artists, John Keane and Ben Quilty. Finally, we review social value as the impact of the cultural value created in overcoming armed conflict as well as restoring and transforming impaired individuals, communities and societies. Within this context, we reinforce the notion of cultural value as an alternative framework for understanding the value constructs surrounding the creation of art in this chapter.

Part 2 Current Developments in the Field

Abstract

This chapter introduces the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Cultural Value Project and the ensuing legacy work. It suggests that this work has resulted in the re-positioning of the field of enquiry into cultural value by shifting attention away from policy constructs and towards lived experiences; away from measuring the outcomes of cultural participation and towards understanding the process of engagement. The challenge still remaining is to develop an empirically grounded pragmatist account of cultural value as a form of practice – a situated interface of agents, actions and structures taking place in an institutionalised and materially circumscribed environment. Reconceiving cultural value in these terms will have profound methodological implications, not least the challenge of finding methodologies appropriate to its analysis within the realm of historically and geographically variable relations and structures. It is, however, a challenge worth taking. The proposed shift, it is suggested, will provide a way of addressing some long-standing ‘problems’ arising in relation to cultural value: the separation of conditions and consciousness; the overemphasis on the cognitive at the cost of the bodily; the separation between ‘the best and the brightest’ and the ‘everyday’ conceptions of culture. The proposed approach may also drive the refinement of flat(ter)-ontology methodologies which neither succumb to methodological individualism nor overemphasise methodological structuralism.

Abstract

The aim of the study is to contribute to the extending body of literature on ‘the different effects of cultural engagement’ through cases from Turkey. In the context of art and society interaction, the study seeks to find evidence from practice within the scope of the ‘cultural value’ and ‘arts marketing’ literature. ‘Co-creation’ is mentioned as an important term in the cultural engagement context, and purposeful co-creation acts are investigated in the art industry. Therefore, the research focuses on interaction in the context of culture in order to explore the complex nature of co-creation of cultural value in alternative places and cultural frames. From this perspective, the study underlines the roles of place and atmosphere in the cultural engagement process. The cultural engagement areas of art and the public are determined in three different fields: nature (art in the village), science (campus) and business (shopping mall). The case study research is realised in order to gain a detailed and holistic view of the process. While the intention of all art events is the interaction of art and society, all three cases lead to different dimensions of ‘cultural engagement’ in different contexts. In this manner, these different cultural frames enlarge our comprehensive view of the constitution of ‘art and cultural value’ in terms of place and cultural frame of the field. The study underlines that society-oriented local art events and organisations are supporting the art and society link rather than focussing the economic value of art and artists as the actors of a commercial art industry.

Abstract

This chapter examines cultural value creation through the 24 Carrot Gardens Project. Initiated by artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele of the Museum of Old and New Art, the vision of 24 Carrot Gardens is to ‘sow seeds of lifelong learning’ in the areas of health, well-being and sustainability across school communities in Tasmania, Australia. What has eventuated over its five years is a complex relationship between the artful ‘gold standard’ delivered by professional artists and a contemporary art museum with an integrated teaching and site-based learning across the arts and sciences. Designed in response to the local environmental, cultural and socio-economic context, 24 Carrot Gardens has contributed to a growing sense of community engagement, interdisciplinary learning and a strong foundation of networked donor investment. With these multilayered interests across a diversity of stakeholders and partnerships, many competing systems of value are at play, with the potential to contribute a new value creation. Firsthand accounts of project contributors are situated amongst the scholarly literature to produce an examination of value exchange and creation including the cultural values identified in 24 Carrot Gardens: artistic and creative, economic and industrial and education and environmental. Following this interrogation of the expressed values in this case study, we offer a foundation for a new framework for understanding local cultural value.

Abstract

This chapter explores the role of entrepreneurship within the careers of fine artists. This is positioned within the context of the discourse of cultural value. How artists manage their artistic and, sometimes conflicting, entrepreneurial identities is explored. The fields of entrepreneurship, and more recently the creative industries, have received much attention from both policy makers and researchers. Fine artists are perhaps one of the least employable, and arguably most entrepreneurial (by necessity), as Higgs et al. suggest ‘some occupations naturally have substantially higher numbers of self-employed people such as “Artists” with 91% self-employment’ (Higgs, Cunningham, & Bakhshi, 2008, p. 94).

The study captures the career histories of a cohort of fine art graduates, all of whom had graduated at the same time (1994), from the same institution. Taking a narrative approach, detailed career stories were obtained. The relationship to and tensions surrounding entrepreneurship and artistic practice were explored in detail. While artistic identity emerges as a strong force for this group, artistic identity and entrepreneurial identity are sometimes at odds with each other. The practicalities of making a living as an artist, arguably, call for entrepreneurial activity. However, the findings suggest that this presents a conflict for some artists, both aesthetically and emotionally. This chapter explores what this means in the context of cultural value, and cultural value as a ‘lens’ for understanding an artist's career.

Abstract

This chapter is based on more than a decade of art world research in Singapore but offers a single case of a composer who has composed a work for an orchestra. This study presents the creative reputation dilemma faced by many artists who attempt to be more entrepreneurial. Most countries promote their creative economy, and that has generated a class of artist entrepreneurs or ‘artrepreneurs’. Professional artists are encouraged and challenged to be economically independent and also to make their practice more profitable. For many artrepreneurs, maintaining their creative reputation comes with emotional costs. The thick description in this chapter demonstrates how an artist negotiates with the patron in finalising a new piece of commissioned music. But they failed to close the deal. This case deviates from studies that focus on successes in the creative industries. Creativity entails experimentation and creating new things, but new things may not be well-received. Nonetheless, these ‘unsuccessful’ works are part of the art world and contribute to creating cultural value in society.

Part 3 Challenges for the Future

Abstract

The overall aim of this chapter is to investigate whether the notion of cultural value can have utility as a context for urban and regional development strategies. It does this by proposing a conceptualisation of ‘cultural assets’ that encompasses both tangible and intangible resources, as well as resources existing and yet to be created. The purpose of the conceptualisation is to establish a framework within which we can better understand how cultural value might be activated or generated in urban and regional areas and so become a context for developmental strategies. Importantly, this paper also sets out to provide further insight into the notion of cultural value itself, particularly in relation to matters of definition, and the notion's utility in other areas of theory and practice.

Abstract

Cities are the place where people spend the great majority of their daily time. Many cities face a variety of social issues such as: high unemployment, increasing crime rate, migration flows, shifts in types of social interactions and lifestyle. These examples represent only a few of the issues encountered. Increasing the number of cultural offerings of a city may help improve the population's general sense of well-being as well as to increase its attractiveness for investments. However, the topic is delicate, and culture is an asset that must be treated carefully. Hence, enhancing culture as a positive asset to be cultivated may seem to be the perfect solution to overcome these issues. Often, a city's government will assume that enhancing and supporting cultural and creative industries will provide a solution to urban socio-economic crises and the stress of the urban fabric without effectively considering their own particular historical-geographical and socio-political conditions. Sometimes cultural heritage is exploited without giving due consideration to the creative sources of value generation in the city. Thus, this may lead to side effects such as the general risk of attracting socially and economically unsustainable mass tourism; the risk related to the possibility of being trapped by city's own cultural heritage and history acting as obstacles against any possible innovations; the risk of gentrification with a consequential loss of important traditions and social relationships characterising the urban areas.

Abstract

Scholars mostly emphasise the social inclusion of people with disabilities; however, in most of these studies, disability is often touched on as ‘something that should be overcome instead of accommodated’ and frequently considered as a ‘passive recipient’ of policies (Knight, 2015, p. 4). There have been very few disability studies in Turkey, and these generally focus on issues such as employment, education, accessibility to health care and, recently, accessible tourism. Consequently, the main focus of this study is the impact of the social inclusion of people with disabilities in performing arts events audiences on cultural value and cultural policy in Turkey. A qualitative study was conducted in order to explore social inclusion of audiences with disabilities regarding inequalities in attending performing arts events from multiple perspectives and their impact on cultural value. The study included sources from: (1) semi-structured interviews (n = 32); (2) site visits and observations across four sites (venues, offices, performance spaces) and (3) reviews of secondary data such as websites, policies, legislation, promotional materials, annual reports and internal documents. The most important impact of this study is that it is the first study conducted on participation of people with disabilities in performing arts events in Turkey. Moreover, the most pressing issues mentioned by almost all participants were the need for people with disabilities to demand inclusion, which is actually a birthright, by participating and making their needs visible.

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Abstract

The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (MANN, National Archaeological Museum of Naples) is one of the most important archaeological museums in the world. In 2017, MANN launched several projects, such as Father and Son, the first video game made by an archaeological museum, and Ancient Present (Antico Presente), a series of five short films produced by the museum in five different languages and based on different artworks selected from the museum's permanent collections. The idea behind these projects was to ‘bring the museum outside the museum’, with the assumption that some tools may improve the museum's ability to speak and interact with its audiences, both in the spatial sense (outside its physical perimeter) and the temporal dimension (not only during the visit experience, but also before and after it). We have studied these two MANN projects, as this museum has explicitly targeted audience development as one of its main objectives (MANN, 2016, p. 72) and these projects are important examples of how to use new ‘languages’ (the digital and the cinematographic) to start a dialogue with new audiences and to address museum accessibility in a new way.

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Index

Pages 221-225
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Cover of Exploring Cultural Value
DOI
10.1108/9781789735154
Publication date
2021-01-25
Editors
ISBN
978-1-78973-516-1
eISBN
978-1-78973-515-4