The measure of all things: on the use of time as a value indicator in arts impact assessment
Cultural Trends, 18, (1), . (doi:10.1080/09548960802651229).
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Like money, time is a scarce resource. People used to economizing with one are likely to economize with the other. This proposition has serious implications for cultural economics (as for economics generally); three in particular are explored here. (1) Because cultural values are learned, and learning takes time, from the sorts of learning experience to which people have committed time in the past much can be inferred about their probable cultural consumption behaviour in future and about their attitudes to art. (2) The arts deliver socio-economic impact by encouraging new forms of belief - altering people's values essentially. Beliefs then influence action. Impact assessors must confront the question of value generation head on. (3) Use of time indicators will enable assessors to capture and quantify impacts which barely register on the usual money-economic scale, generating new categories of evidence directly if unconventionally relevant to cultural policy debate. The discussion is situated in historical context, drawing attention to a rich tradition of time-reflexive thinking within professional economics. The assumption underlying much of modern, purposely “neoclassical” cultural economics - that cultural value can best be measured in terms of willingness to pay or willingness to be paid money - is not strictly necessary either in economic theory or in economic practice, and for impact assessment purposes it is not always helpful. Sections following the historical introduction take careful account of recent developments in cultural economics, and to facilitate further reading frequently refer to the summative handbooks edited by Ruth Towse (2003) and Victor Ginsburgh and David Throsby (2006).
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