The value of art: an investigation of the ‘value for money’ audit for the performing arts

DProf thesis

Chin Man Wah, C. 2017. The value of art: an investigation of the ‘value for money’ audit for the performing arts. DProf thesis Middlesex University Institute for Work Based Learning
TypeDProf thesis
TitleThe value of art: an investigation of the ‘value for money’ audit for the performing arts
AuthorsChin Man Wah, C.

Measuring the value of art and assessing the success of performing arts organizations have been a global concern in the creative industry for the past few decades (Pidd, 2012; Ellis, 2003; Reeves 2002). The complexity of art, by its nature, makes it difficult to come up with the ideal measuring system. The ‘value for money’ (VFM) audit has been widely introduced in many government departments and non-profit organizations. However, whether the VFM method can be proclaimed as an appropriate form of measurement of the value of a performing arts organization is yet to be explored. This leads to the objective of this project, that an investigation will be undertaken to see if the VFM method is appropriate and effective for the performing arts industry.
Various research materials such as the VFM manual and reports were examined to enhance my understanding of VFM practice. Comparisons were made, reviewing local professional practice from the perspective of the HKCO and other practices on a global scale, and underpin this research. The VFM report of the HKCO, the first VFM study of a performing arts organization conducted in Hong Kong by the Audit Commission in 2009–10, serves as a case study of this research approach. Objective data were collected through surveys, focus group discussions and in-depth semi-structured interviews. With the use of a combination of qualitative and quantitative research, using both fieldwork and desk research methods, a balanced outlook on this matter was achieved.
The contribution by a performing arts organization that operates in an innovative and creative industry is intangible and difficult to measure. Arguably, the value of art can be understood in many ways, not just in monetary terms. Currently, there is no specific format for reporting or conducting processes in a VFM audit. The design of the methodology and means of interpreting data in the context of the performing arts industry becomes a key issue in a VFM audit. It is vital for members of the audit team to have a thorough understanding of the arts, and also the operation of the arts industry, before drawing conclusions and recommendations. Otherwise, what is revealed to the public through the audit report may be filtered by misleading interpretations.
This research has concluded that VFM audits fail to reflect a full picture of the value of a performing arts organization. The desired solution is an appropriate methodology for a VFM audit appropriate to context to avoid the public misjudging the value or success of a performing arts organization and undermining its reputation and the trust the public has placed in it. Should there be a VFM audit conducted on a performing arts company in the future, the term ‘management audit’ or ‘operational audit’ may be preferable to ‘value for money audit’.

Research GroupWork and Learning Research Centre
Department nameInstitute for Work Based Learning
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print12 May 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited12 May 2017
Accepted13 Mar 2017
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Additional information

Appendix XVI has been redacted from this file.

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