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About the Cultural Value Model

The Cultural Value Model

The Cultural Value Model (CVM) is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary methodology that takes into account the interests and perspectives of a range of people and stakeholders involved in cultural activities. It offers a practice that can be owned by the participants and allow them to explore the meaning of their work and to look at impact over time. Its primary objective is to provide an analytical and methodological framework for re-conceiving models of evaluation. In particular, it shifts the frame of analysis away from impact to value.

The CVM is a good example of Participatory Action Research which engages participants and partners actively in the entire process of project design, monitoring and evaluation. It helps organisations and users to think about and assess the value of the cultural activities with which they are involved.

It is also a methodology that allows us to investigate broader questions about the value of culture, the theory and practices of cultural relations, cultural diplomacy and soft power; about the assumptions underpinning such activities; the relationship between culture and power, and the role of culture in preventing and resolving conflict.

The CVM, in fostering a more engaged, participatory approach to performance evaluation, can challenge and also complement existing practices. Its flexible adaptability presents an opportunity for organisations to move away from top-down performance and impact assessment towards a more inclusive, reflective and sustainable model of value. It also allows us to reflect on the model itself as a methodology that can and should evolve. As A 'Methods in Motion' approach, the CVM is always work in progress.

A brief history of the Cultural Value Model

The Cultural Value Model (CVM) was developed as part of the UK-wide Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Cultural Value Project (AH/L006065/1). The aim of the AHRC Cultural Value Project was to think about and assess the value of cultural activities. The full report can be found here:

AHRC Cultural Value Project

The Open University contributed to the AHRC research with the project 'Understanding the Changing Cultural Value of the BBC World Service and British Council'. It was with this research that the CVM was first developed by OU researchers in close collaboration with British Council staff. Our project aimed to deliver a robust, evidence-based understanding of the changing cultural value of the British Council (BC) and BBC World Service (BBCWS).

Other Cultural Value Projects

Since then, the CVM has become a part of the British Council Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation practices (LME). We have used it to evaluate and research other British Council programmes and campaigns like the ‘The Cultural Value of the British Council's UK-Iran Season of Culture’ (2015) and ‘The cultural value of Shakespeare Lives 2016'.

We have also adapted the CVM into the Value Analysis Model to evaluate and investigate user engagement with the website InfoMigrants and its social media platforms. InfoMigrants is a website which informs migrants and refugees about the migration situation in countries of origin, transit and destination, while facilitating access to relevant, timely and accurate news and information in order to counter the erroneous information passed on by human traffickers


The Cultural Value Model (CVM) offers a collective reflection process; a self-reflective evaluation tool for organizations that enables them to look at their work through the perspectives of all parties involved and to make changes according to new and often unexpected results.

IT is an approach that incorporates publics as main cultural actors often at the intersection of consumers and producers, and at the centre of the activities of cultural organizations. An important goal is to understand reception, not just to evaluate organizations’ objectives understood as outcomes.

Through the CVM we want to get a better understanding of the organisational constraints that obstruct innovation if more participatory models of learning, monitoring and evaluation are to intervene in social and organisational processes and achieve sustainable models of good practice.

We use an innovative and interdisciplinary approach with mixed research methods that brings together qualitative and quantitative data and provides a visual tool that processes complex information into composite snap-shots. We called these contellations.


Figure 1: Constellation of the BC South Asia Season

The CVM also establishes the context for a participatory form of research, in which the theoretical and conceptual framework of researchers is tested by practice. Our subjects of study are active participants in the process.

The articles and working papers that can be found in this section present the work and thinking behind the CVM.

The latest paper 'Rethinking Models of Evaluation: Sustainability as the Goal of International Cultural Organisationswas' was presented at the International Sustainable Development Research Conference,13-15 Jul 2016, Lisbon, Portugal.

The documents below provide an overview of the process, the research methodology and methodological advances of the project. They include the presentations and the material used in the workshops at the WS and the BC in 2014. The interim report for World Service 26 March gives a full overview of our work on CVM for World Service. The British Council Webinar 20 May 2014 document presents our work on CVM for British Council. This is work in progress.