In 2005 ITC, SOLT & TMA held a joint conference where Stewart Wallis, CEO of nef (the new economics foundation), joined a panel discussion on ‘Relevance’ and spoke to the Theatre Industry about the concept of wellbeing. He posed nef’s question ‘What would politics look like if promoting people’s well-being was government’s main aim?’ and then began to explore what the role and value of the performing arts might be if that were the scenario.
The industry pricked up its collective ears; accustomed to an often stifling culture of top-down measurement through instrumental outcomes, it was intrigued by the idea of measuring what matters.
We joined forces to commission nef to conduct this piece of research and create a tool usable across the whole industry to measure the impact of theatre on people’s well-being. The capacity of theatre to deliver meaning, entertainment and a shared experience gives it the potential to deliver a deeper impact on society that goes far beyond the economic or the instrumental.
Policy-makers have already expressed an interest in this work. What excites them is that the impetus and enthusiasm for this research came from the industry and the tool has been developed with practitioners.
We want to find out more about the impact of theatre through our members’ use of this tool. We are confident that it has been well researched by nef and we are particularly grateful to our member organisations that helped to test it. Now we hope the industry will use it and share what it discovers.