ArtsFund Social Impact Study

The field of economic impact study likely dates close to the dawn of modern economics when we began systematically thinking about the value of transactions. In other words, the field is almost 250 years old. BERK is certainly no stranger to this type of study. Over the last thirty years, we’ve looked at the economic impacts of numerous different capital investments, public programs, organizations, and sectors. Even space!

Don’t get me wrong, we love that work. But every once in a while we get a chance to try something completely different here at BERK. For example, a client who asks us to venture into an area with few precedents, no defined methodology, and no “field standard” tools. Such was the case in 2017-2018 with the ArtsFund Social Impact of the Arts Study, released on October 25.

We were asked to look into the question:

Can arts change our communities in the ways it changes our lives and economies?

 Seattle Theater Group Dance for Parkinson's participant. Credit: Christopher Nelson

Seattle Theater Group Dance for Parkinson's participant. Credit: Christopher Nelson

It’s a BIG question. It’s also a question without 250 years of standardized data and a wealth of academic research behind it. We were surprised, challenged, and inspired as we reviewed literature, analyzed data, and documented case studies in our backyard to begin to shed light on the answer. Our eyes have been opened to the many concrete ways arts can affect public good, across art forms and across social sectors. We hope our report will open more eyes in the same way.

You can find the report here: https://www.artsfund.org/social-impact-study-2018

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