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An exploration of the contribution of the arts to local economies in terms of human and social capital.

Narine, Shauna



Sarah Buckler


Although research exists about the positive impacts of the arts on well-being and society, public funding towards this sector in the UK has decreased significantly over the past decade. Researchers suggest a demonstration of how the arts impact local economies is necessary to justify their funding. This thesis provides a demonstration that, in addition to being good in themselves, the arts have a positive effect on the economy. It utilised Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to examine the discourses, in the form of publicly available documents, of six multinational funders about the funding of the arts. In addition to demonstrating the positive effect on the economy in terms of human and social capital, the companies' strategic philanthropy or use of the arts for corporate goals also highlighted impacts on local economies. Although most companies expressed how the arts contributed to human and social capital - in reports and lengthy documents - most were unsure about how to articulate or represent the successes of the arts at face value. This was observed through an uncertain use of images and discourses to represent the arts. Another interesting revelation of this thesis was the power held by the corporations not only to decide who received funding but to also determine the type of art that is created. Human capital was discussed in terms of human development, creativity and transformation, advancement of the community and encouraging interest in education. Social capital was referred to as building partnerships, togetherness, volunteering, strengthening communities and attracting more visitors. This study supports the need for the arts' contribution to the economy to be rethought, revised, and re-evaluated. It suggests that this be done firstly through the explicit inclusion of human and social capital as evaluation criteria (using language identified in this study), including the exact language that needs to be used to assess these values. Secondly, the thesis suggests that there should be consideration of how these should be measured, evaluated and represented - as opposed to being quantified.


NARINE, S. 2021. An exploration of the contribution of the arts to local economies in terms of human and social capital. Robert Gordon University, MRes thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 14, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 14, 2022
Keywords Art and society; Art and the economy; Arts funding
Public URL


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