Prove Impact

How best to evidence the impact of your work?

Whether you’re an individual, collective or an organisation, knowing and telling the story of your practice and the effect it has on people and communities is vital to help you better understand your work, as well as to engage potential commissioners and funders.

Some of this evidence will come from your participants or clients – case studies and personal narrative as well as quantitative data.  Our Paul Hamlyn Foundation-funded toolkit will help arts and cultural organisations in Gloucestershire to do this in the most creative and cost-efficient way; you can find out more about this on our Improve Impact page. 

It can be very helpful to put your experience in the context of wider research.  This can help you make the case for the impact of arts and culture in a huge range of settings: health and wellbeing, education and learning, place-making and regeneration, volunteering and civic engagement to name a few.

As we come across information, research and evidence we think is useful, interesting or provocative we’ll upload it here, along with links to other reference sources. 

We’ll also include statistics and strategies specific to Gloucestershire, and reports dealing with wider issues about evaluation and impact.

If you have anything you think would make a good addition, please email it to hello@creategloucestershire

Audience development

Audiences Insight: how and why people might engage with the arts (Arts Council)


Evidence review of the economic contribution of libraries (Arts Council, June 2014)

Creative Industries Economic Estimates (Department for Culture, Media & Sport, 2011)
Statistics on GVA, employment and number of businesses

Measuring the economic and social impact of the arts: a review (Michelle Reeves for Arts Council, 2002)

The contribution of arts and culture to the national economy (Arts Council)

Advocacy toolkit including infographics on economy, investment, audience and employment (Arts Council)

Driving growth through local government investment in the arts (Local Government Association, 2013)
This publication argues that the arts have a vital role to play in driving economic growth, and that local government is key to achieving this. Includes case studies evidencing economic impact.

The Economic, Social and Cultural Impact of the City Arts and Culture Cluster (City of London Corporation, 2013)

Evaluation, measurement and value

Measuring social value: the gap between policy and practice (Claudia Wood and Daniel Leighton, DEMOS, 2010)
Provides a snapshot of the third sector’s ability to measure and communicate the social value of the services it provides. It also investigates the range of frameworks available for measuring social value and assesses progress made towards using these frameworks, particularly the Social Return on Investment (SROI) model.

Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society (John Knell and Matthew Taylor, RSA, 2011)
Recommends strengthening the case for both artistic and public good instrumentalism and recommends courses of action towards this.

Civic Engagement and the Arts: Issues of Conceptualization and Measurement (Mark J. Stern and Susan C. Seifert, Animating Democracy, 2009
Theories, issues, strategies and recommendations for measuring impact of arts on civic engagement.

Mapping outcomes for social investment: Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation (The SROI Network, 2013) Breaks down the outcomes and indicators which can be used by social investors, charities, funders and social enterprises to measure the success of an intervention in arts and culture.

Quality of life and well-being: Measuring the Benefits of Culture and Sport: Literature Review and Thinkpiece (Scottish Executive, 2005)


Useful statistics, plans and information specific to the local area

Gloucestershire health and wellbeing strategy 2012-2032 (Gloucestershire Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board, Gloucestershire County Council)

Understanding Gloucestershire (Strategic Needs Analysis Team, Gloucestershire County Council, 2013) Issues that will affect the county over the next few years.

Health, wellbeing and social impact

Analysis of health and educational benefits of sports and culture (DCMS and Helen Grant, 2015)

Wellbeing in four policy areas (Report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics, September 2014)
Includes key recommendation regarding investing in arts and culture: "Wellbeing evidence gives a robust means of measuring the value of non-market goods. Arts and culture play an important part in all our lives, and wellbeing data will help make the case for spending in these areas."

Arts, health and Wellbeing Beyond the Millenium: How far have we come and where do we want to go? (Royal Society for Public health (RSPH) Working Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, 2013)

Arts and Health: research and evidence overview (Arts Council)

An Evidence Review of the Impact of Participatory Arts on Older People (Mental Health Foundation, 2011)

Mental health, social inclusion and arts: developing the evidence base (Jenny Secker, Sue Hacking, Helen Spandler, Lyn Kent, Jo Shenton, DCMS and DoH, 2007)

Social Impacts of Participation in Arts and Cultural Activities - evidence, issues and recommendations (Cultural Ministers Council, Tasmania, 2004)

Impact of the Arts on Individual Contributions to U.S. Civil Society (LeRoux and Bernadska, 2012)
Found that “individuals who attend arts events at least once a year are more likely to participate in various civic associations, exhibit greater tolerance towards racial minorities and homosexuals, and behave in a manner which regards the interests of others above those of oneself.”

Intermediate outcomes of arts projects: a rapid evidence assessment (Nina Burrowes, Emma Disley, Mark Liddle, Mike Maguire, Jennifer Rubin, Jirka Taylor, and Sam Wright, National Offender Management Service, 2013) Summarises the findings from a rapid evidence assessment (REA), which sought to identify ‘intermediate’ outcomes from arts projects on offenders.

Other evidence sources

Culture Case (Cultural Institute, King's College London)
A range of carefully selected academic research from universities and scholars around the world that can add value to the work of the cultural sector.  includes short accessible summaries of academic research that demonstrate the impacts of arts and culture, as well as highlighting a range of insights to help inform future planning.

Indexing Intelligence (Sheena Etches, a n, 2008)
Excellent overview of research, particularly relevant to visual arts but often more broadly applicable, under the following headings:
Public Policy
Artists’ contemporary practice
Location and community
Networks and professional development

A Literature Review of the Evidence Base for Culture, the Arts and Sport Policy (Janet Ruiz, 2004) Information, Analysis and Communication Division, Scottish Executive