Measuring the Value of Art: Towards an Arts Industry Satellite Account

Michael Edwards (ANU)
2017 Conference

Measuring the value of service industries, including the arts, presents challenges for the delivery of efficient government policies and programs. Goods and services related to the arts may be traded in their own right, but they may also be traded indirectly when embodied as intermediate inputs into other goods and services traded elsewhere in the economy. The value of the arts may therefore be misrepresented and misunderstood. This paper discusses the implications of this, focusing on the visual arts sector and its role as an embodied service in Australia’s domestic and international travel and tourism industry. The paper draws attention to the value of the arts in understanding the role of innovation and creativity in supporting Australia’s productivity and competitiveness. It concludes that the traditional approach to investment in the arts may be suboptimal in terms of increasing the sector’s potential contribution to artistic and economic outputs.

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About the author

Michael Edwards is an artist who recently completed a PhD through the School of Art and Design at the Australian National University. His practice-led research investigated the relationship between economic circumstances and still-life painting, examining how material culture – the objects that help define, interpret and understand the world we live in – may be used to represent economic conditions. He has participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions in Australia. Michael worked previously as an economic analyst for several Australian government departments, including industry departments and the Treasury.