Economic and Social Research Council
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Finding appropriate ways to understand the value of culture, media and sport to society and explain this with evidence that convinces has proved a challenge for many years. New approaches to this issue are outlined in ‘Not Only .... But Also: Capturing the Value of Culture Media and Sport’. This new booklet highlights these approaches and the views of leading experts, policymakers and academic researchers as presented during a Public Policy Seminar jointly organised by the Economic and Social Council (ESRC), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), held in June 2009.

Explaining the rationale for the seminar, Barbara Follett MP, Minister for Tourism and Culture says: “We all value the opportunities we have to participate in cultural and sporting activities and we know that our lives are enriched by them. Understanding the value of our sectors is key to making the strongest argument for investing in culture and sport. Reflecting that value fairly in how we make decisions is essential if we are to do the sectors justice, and deliver value to the public. In a world of limited resources it is imperative that we are able to articulate the value these activities add to society. The economic climate makes this even more necessary.”

Discussing the complexities involved in finding ways to articulate the value that culture and sport add to society, speakers at the one day seminar highlighted:

• The need to overcome the complexities involved in capturing and measuring value in culture and sport, without relying on economic measures alone. In particular, the need to find more comprehensive and meaningful ways of understanding the value and impact of culture, media and sport.
• The value of bringing together academics, independent researchers, policymakers and practitioners in a new discussion forum. Closer collaboration and knowledge exchange between research and policy communities is considered key to the development of a strategic, policy-relevant, high-quality, cross-cutting, social and economic evidence base for culture, media and sport.
• The future key research priorities including the need for longitudinal research into the longer term impact of culture and sport on individual’s lives and means to measure the less quantifiable aspects of value such as happiness and wellbeing.

In addition, two alternative ways of thinking about value were proposed: the first offered a new approach to assessing the cultural value of UK film; the second highlighted a new approach for valuing engagement in culture and sport.

Describing the booklet that summarises the seminar, Barbara Follett MP explains: “This publication is a jumping-off point for the way DCMS looks at the value of what we do. Recent work in the new DCMS-led Culture and Sport Evidence programme - ‘CASE’ – shows the benefit of us approaching this collaboratively and intelligently. The CASE programme is not the end point but the starting point for what I hope will be a new chapter in the debate about value – and how we account for it in public policy in culture and sport.

“It’s about moving beyond simple economic conceptions of value to understand how culture and sport affect people’s lives,” she continues. “It’s about making better public policy. This seminar is a great example of intelligent collaboration – research councils, public bodies, academia, brought together by and with DCMS.”

The seminar chair, DCMS Chief Analyst Anita Charlesworth noted in her concluding comments, “the seminar was more about opening up the questions than pinning down the answers. As such, we hope that this seminar will mark the first in a series of collaborative events where our combined expertise can work towards the best possible results. We hope our first joint seminar and this booklet will make a valuable contribution to this process.”

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1. The ESRC/DCMS/AHRC Public Policy Seminar booklet, ‘Not Only ... But Also: Capturing the Value of Culture Media and Sport’, highlights some of the key points made by speakers during seminar held on this theme in London on 26 June 2009. This seminar was jointly organised by the Economic and Social Council (ESRC), the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). If you would like to receive a free copy of the publication please email 

2. The booklet features contributions from Anita Charlesworth, Chief Analyst at the DCMS); Dr Adam Cooper, who leads the development of strategic research programmes in the DCMS; Barbara Follett MP, Minister for Culture and Tourism; Dr Lisanne Gibson, lecturer in the Department of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester; Dr Philip Long, Principal Research Fellow and Deputy Director at the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change, Leeds Metropolitan University (CTCC); Dr Kevin Marsh, Head of Economics at The Matrix Knowledge Group (TMKG); Nick Pontefract, Head of Arts Policy Development at the DCMS; and David Steele, Head of the Research and Statistics Unit at the UK Film Council

3. The ESRC Public Policy Seminar Series aims to bring the best social science concepts and evidence into the policy arena and stimulate a discussion of how in the light of these insights, policy can be developed. The goal is to encourage evidence-based policy through an exchange between researchers and policy-makers. For forthcoming public policy seminars, please email 

4. About Arts and Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £102 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,350 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute over a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. 

5. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at 

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