From public good to public value: arts and culture in a time of crisis

Julian Meyrick, Tully Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


This paper argues that the crisis sweeping over the Australian cultural sector as a result of COVID-19 presents an existential threat to current (“normal science”) methods of evaluation, and to instrumental, predominantly economic, understandings of value. Outlining ways the concept of value is changing, we respond to Mariana Mazzucato’s call to go “from public goods to public value” in considering the role of government policy in key sectors of society. We note the broader approach to value called for by a range of mainstream economists and provide three recent examples of challenges to existing evaluation methods in the Australian cultural sector. In conclusion, we touch on the essential features of a re-constructed category of public value and the implications for value research. During COVID-19, the public role of arts and culture has become self-evident. The challenge is to match this realization with a new understanding of their public value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-90
Number of pages16
JournalCultural Trends
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • art and culture
  • COVID-19
  • crisis
  • cultural policy
  • Cultural value
  • public value


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