Pivoting post-pandemic: Not-for-profit arts and culture organisations and a new focus on social impact

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Andrew Wearring
Bronwen Dalton
Rachel Bertram


While the Australian arts and cultural sector has been adept at shaping the national conversation around its economic significance, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought multiple and serious challenges. Weakened by years of government defunding, the sector now faces the shocks of shutdowns and social distancing on their bottom line. Post-COVID we propose that arts and culture organisations in the Not-for-profit sector express their contribution to society as social impact, in order to access more diverse sources of funding. This paper looks first at established ways of assessing economic value, then discusses the broader social value of arts and culture organisations. It then explores methods by which this can be measured and reported. Lastly, a review of relevant literature and best practice approaches to social impact measurement is provided, outlining a framework to produce evaluations that both strengthen their programs and enhance their ability to communicate their value to funders.

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Articles (refereed)
Author Biographies

Andrew Wearring, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Wearring is a researcher with extensive experience in universities and the not-for-profit sector. His research focuses on youth transitions, employment and disadvantage. He also has a background studying and lecturing on religion, including a doctorate from the University of Sydney. 

Bronwen Dalton, University of Technology Sydney

Professor Dalton Bronwen is the Head of Department (Management) and UTS Business School. She has served on the Boards of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs’ Australia Korea Foundation, Volunteering Australia, the National Volunteering Research Advisory Group, Volunteering NSW and the editorial board of the journal Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Bronwen has conducted extensive research in the field of NFP sector studies and has published on NFP business venturing, NFP policy, social enterprises, child care, governance and advocacy.

Rachel Bertram, University of Technology Sydney

Ms Bertram is a social impact and evaluation specialist, based at the University of Technology Business School, currently undertaking a PhD, with a focus on how Indigenous and spiritual knowledges can inform measures of success in social impact evaluation theory and practice. She also manages the design and delivery of the UTS Social Impact Toolbox.