Quantifying and qualifying the individual and collective social impact of the arts: Disability arts partnership projects

Arts Activated
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
2016, pp. 1 - 2 (2)
Issue Date:
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This paper examines a study that investigated the social impact of creative participation in NSW Arts and Disability Partnership Projects (ADDP). The primary aim of the study was to research the social impact of creative participation in ADDP. The 12 projects each comprised different art mediums, organisational partnerships, levels of involvement, and types of artists with disability. Additionally, the research study sought to determine the broad social impact that funded projects have on: artists and/or other participants with disability; organisations within the funded programs; and audiences that attend such public programs. The overall conceptualisation of social impact in this project has been guided by the Conceptual Model of Social Impact as Active Citizenship framework(Darcy, Maxwell, Edwards, Onyx, & Sherker, 2014; Edwards, Onyx, Maxwell, & Darcy, 2012; Edwards et al., 2015; Onyx, 2014a, 2014b), which was used by the research team in a previous study. The research design adopted an abductive, mixed method, collective case study methodology, in order to allow for detailed analysis of the ADPP within their particular contexts and across various settings. The collective case study methodology provided the opportunity to engage in detail through a mixture of methodologies and data sources. These methodologies included: in-depth interviews with project managers, facilitators, participants, artists, audience members and participating organisations’ employees; focus groups with stakeholders; project observations, and content analyses of related audio-visual materials, media reports, Facebook pages, websites, internal organisational and project documents, and project acquittals. Developing the social impact instrument was an iterative process, that is, it was continuously modified as more data was gathered, and the instrument was (re)tested and refined. As a consequence, 10 resultant factors and 33 indicators were identified, and each was modified to reflect both program and individual-level components of social impact. As part of the iterative and abductive process of developing factors, indicators and definitional descriptions, the study proceeded to ‘score’ each of the ADDP against each of the indicators. The process for developing the scoring system was directed by the principles outlined in the innovation and legacy radar frameworks (Dickson, Benson, & Blackman, 2011; Sawhney, Wolcott, & Arroniz, 2006). The rationale for this is that all populations, stakeholders and data sources need to be considered within a ‘360-degree’ assessment of the impact of cultural participation. Apart from the social impact score for the program in individual components, a social impact network map was also developed for each ADDP showing the relative level of social impact and the rippling network stakeholders engaged.
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