The Centre for Cultural Partnerships’ research program research explores the theoretical frameworks for the arts and community practice and applications in specific arts-based activities.

Projects explore contemporary practice and new models for the arts and community, specifically in relation to:

  • Collaborative partnerships and how they can address significant public policy issues
  • The role of the arts and artists in these new contexts
  • The development of new evaluative frameworks appropriate to these new models and settings.

Our approach has a focus on participatory, practice-led and collaborations that acknowledge the centrality of the arts and the creative process, while also exploring the theoretical frameworks that underpin practice.

Research Projects

Towards an integrated evaluation framework for community-based arts

Australia is recognized as having a long history in community-based arts, a practice in which artists and communities collaborate to identify, effect, and celebrate key local issues of place and interest. These creative interventions and cultural strategies are known by many names (community arts, social practice, art in the public realm, socially-engaged arts, dialogic art, etc.) and sit at the intersection of both aesthetic and social interests. These community-based arts practices have become increasingly complex, involving multiple approaches to art making and partnerships, as well as receiving funding from non-arts sectors like in health, justice, or urban development.

In this highly relational and context reliant practice, existing methods of description and evaluation are limited and generally ineffective. This problem is rooted in arguments of the public value of the arts; therefore, this research moves beyond existing binaries of instrumental and intrinsic value, debates of process versus product, and the false tension between artistic merit and community outcomes.

Drawing on new forms of aesthetic description and community-engaged research principles, this research project first reviews existing innovative evaluation practice through dialogue with practicing artists, academics, and policymakers and later, tests more holistic evaluation techniques in community-based arts practice across Australia. An integrated framework will later be piloted through a series of research collaborations with different modes of practice, hybrid arts approaches, geographic locations, and organizational structures.


  • Towards an integrated evaluation framework for community-based arts is a three-year ARC funded Linkage Project, located in the Centre for Cultural Partnerships (CCP) at the University of Melbourne. Chief Investigators on the project are Dr Lachlan MacDowell (CCP), Dr Martin Mulligan (Globalism Institute, RMIT University) and Frank Panucci, Australian Council for the Arts.