This study offers a novel approach to exploring economic and social impact in the arts, by sharing the experiences of four public art museums (Bendigo Art Gallery, Shepparton Art Museum (SAM), Linden Centre for Contemporary Art and Arts Project Australia).

Best Practice Models of Economic and Social Impact in Public Art Museums investigates the economic and social impact of public art museums; what drives and impedes art museums' ability to assess this impact; and the benefits (for art museums and their stakeholders), which come from assessing impact.

The research involved 46 interviews, 8 focus groups, analysing 1200 pages of transcripts – which have been distilled into four unique and distinct case studies.

Arts Victoria supported this joint research project with Deakin University and the Melbourne Business School's Asia Pacific Social Impact Leadership Centre with the Public Galleries Association of Victoria, to investigate the economic and social impact of public art galleries.


In the context of the research, economic impact is defined as the effect on economic factors, which include:

  • direct employment (in public art museums)
  • indirect employment through tourism expenditure resulting in new employment opportunities; economic growth and development (i.e. attraction of new businesses and investment to a region/area);
  • personal economic impact (i.e. wages, which flow to the community, and artists fees and sales of work) and
  • visitor expenditure on food, accommodation, services and retail

In addition, social impact is the effects that have a continuing influence upon, and directly touch people's lives. Social impacts encompass:

  • improvements in health and wellbeing, self-confidence and self-esteem, and the ability to express emotions;
  • understanding and tolerance of others;
  • community identity and pride; social cohesion and identity;
  • social regeneration;
  • decrease in social isolation and
  • the development of local enterprises.

The study also found that intrinsic impact can also form part of an organisation's social impact. Intrinsic impact focuses on the arts as a means of: feeling; social bonding; aesthetic development; creative and cognitive stimulation.