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What Values Should Count in the Arts? The Tension between Economic Effects and Cultural Value

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  • Bruno S. Frey

Abstract

The basic distinction made in this volume compares “economic value”, expressed in monetary terms, to “cultural value”, reflecting cultural, aesthetic and artistic significance. This paper makes a different distinction which is rarely made explicit but which is of central importance to the decision process in cultural policy. On the one hand, “value” is attached to the economic effects of cultural activities: When cultural values are created, economic activity is bolstered. The increase of commercial actitivities induced is measured by the so-called “impact effect”. On the other hand, the value of culture is reflected in the increased utility going to consumers and non-consumers of a particular cultural activity. This type of value is measured by “willingness to pay studies”. I argue that these two values dominate cultural policy but they capture totally different aspects and are proferred by different kinds of communities.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 253.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:253

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Keywords: economic effects; culture; value; arts; contingent valuation; impact studies;

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  1. Trine Hansen, 1997. "The Willingness-to-Pay for the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen as a Public Good," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 1-28, March.
  2. Throsby,David, 2000. "Economics and Culture," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521584067, November.
  3. Richard Epstein, 2003. "The Regrettable Necessity of Contingent Valuation," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 259-274, November.
  4. Douglas Noonan, 2003. "Contingent Valuation and Cultural Resources: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Literature," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 159-176, November.
  5. Throsby, David, 1994. "The Production and Consumption of the Arts: A View of Cultural Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 1-29, March.
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