The Cultural Value project is vast – the depth and breadth of it takes a while to sink in. This is a project made from many voices; it is the scholarly evaluation of these voices that help us defines them within the fluid constructions of ‘culture’ and ‘value’.
In doing so, it redefines cultural value for the twenty-first century, capturing perspectives of ‘culture’ that otherwise would be transient; grassroots dance or performance, digital participation considered alongside the more solid (metaphorically and physically) cultural presence of the museum and gallery.
In giving each project equal weight in the evaluation the project embodies its response to working in a particularly ambiguous space, made more so by the new technologies, changing demographics and increasing polarisation of political ideologies in our context of rapid socio-economic change.
This is not that ‘anything goes’, but rather that ‘everything must be considered’ and the consideration must be rigorous and methodical. In some cases, it’s also radical. I hope that we can adopt some of the evaluative methodologies shared through the project to support our own considerations of the cultural value Hereford College of Arts might bring to students, educators and the wider community. Ferrous17 and our Cultural Connections partnership provide real opportunities for us to put some of these ideas into action (and yes, I have started talking to people about this).
In terms of The Scholarship Project, the Cultural Value Project might be an interesting place to stop and consider where we are. Scholarship is a term as equally contested as ‘Cultural’; how far might we evaluate the ‘value’ of Scholarship in our own fluidities of context. At a word level, one thing stands out; we talk often of how we ‘measure’ but the Cultural Value project is all about evaluation. Evaluation. As different from ‘measure’ as ‘Enhance’ is from ‘Evidence’.
The value of evaluation is something I wouldn’t have been so conscious of if we hadn’t had the pleasure of Geoffery Crossick’s company at Hereford College of Arts last week. Both during a lunch discussion where my colleagues shared their crafts practice and during a highly engaging and stimulating early evening talk about the Cultural Value Project, the word had a resonance that grew on reflection.
It is certain that we must be open to ideas of both Scholarship and Culture; we must be unafraid to embrace changing frameworks and be excited about new ways of exploring both. But we must evaluate; carefully and with a range of methods. Only then can we bring voices together in a way which allows them to be meaningful beyond their individual context.