The ICC in association with Mersey Care NHS Trust is jointly developing a programme of research designed to consider the economic impact of collaborative cross-sector cultural activity. The primary objective is to build a credible evidence base concerning the longer-term economic benefits of cultural activities and interventions, including the more efficient use of resources and potential savings in public spending if such activities are more connected to the working objectives and practices of other service providers and community organisations. From the perspective of Mersey Care NHS Trust, the broader social value of creative approaches to mental health care provision is accepted, and has been profiled by the trust within the ‘Shift Happens’ report published in 2011. Similarly there are numerous examples elsewhere of the potential socio-economic benefits of cultural activity within education, health and social care settings. In seeking to understand how this translates more pragmatically into longer-term economic collaborative advantage, there needs to be a greater degree of synthesis between:
a) The evidence that already exists;
b) The different people, agencies and sectors currently undertaking this type of work and those that could benefit from it in the future;
c) The ways in which different people undertake and evaluate future collaborative activities and initiatives in order to create a more cohesive evidence base.
The Joining the Dots research programme is being developed therefore, adopting a collaborative approach in itself, to address each of these challenges in the following incremental stages:
Phase 1: A comprehensive review of existing research and evaluation relating to cross-sector collaborative cultural activities and interventions, resulting in a full written report, annotated bibliography and repository of available evidence, which considers:
The most commonly used indicators of cultural impact in collaborative settings
> The scale of economic impact [actual and/or potential] relative to cultural activity;
> Methods for evaluating/measuring impact and their relative effectiveness;
>The context and conditions within which economic impact (e.g. cost savings) is most likely to occur;
> Any gaps in the existing evidence base relating to the economic implications of collaborative cultural activity.
Justine Karpusheff has been commissioned to complete the review between September 2012 and February 2013.
Phase 2: The Joining the Dots conference will subsequently take place in May 2013 in order to connect people, agencies and sectors interested in collaborative cultural working to consider the findings of phase 1, and generate ideas to inform;
Phase 3: where a programme of empirical research will consider the longer-term resourcefulness and economic impact of collaborative cultural activity in the Merseyside region using a Holistic Management analysis framework. This involves applying a ‘systems thinking’ approach to resource management, designed to make decision-making more economically, socially and environmentally effective based on a shared ‘holistic goal’.
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