Crisis, what’s a crisis? Some methodological reflections on evaluating the impact of Covid-19 on Australian arts and culture

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Meyrick, J
Green, B
Tolmie, D
Frank, J
Cooper, G
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2023
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Abstract

This essay discusses a 2021 interview-based pilot project on the impact of COVID-19 on a cross-section of Southeast Queensland artists and cultural organisations. Though it engages with empirical data, it addresses conceptual concerns. Our interviews aimed at capturing the emotional as well as the objective costs of the pandemic on cultural practitioners. The essay considers the phrase ‘crisis of value’ and asks whether it should be used to describe the state of the Australian cultural sector during this time. Following the arguments of Will Davies in respect of the intellectual resources needed to justify a ‘neoliberal realist’ worldview, it explores the impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector by reflecting on its evaluative methods. Digital analysis of the themes, sentiments, and keywords of 14 interview transcripts are presented and ten inferences drawn about practitioners’ underlying attitudes. Under what circumstances do performances of neoliberal calculations of benefit cease to be convincing and/or delivered in a convincing way? What factors constitute ‘a crisis of value’ in arts and culture? The conclusion argues that the methodic dimension of neoliberal evaluation is only one component of its social acceptability, and therefore only one factor in the perception of a state of crisis.

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Journal for Cultural Research
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27
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2
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Public health
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Meyrick, J; Green, B; Tolmie, D; Frank, J; Cooper, G, Crisis, what’s a crisis? Some methodological reflections on evaluating the impact of Covid-19 on Australian arts and culture, Journal for Cultural Research, 2023, 27 (2), pp. 189-209
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