Skip to content

Dimensions Framework Contents:

1. Introduction


The Dimensions Framework provides structure by grouping together dimensions which relate to similar higher level concepts e.g. ‘community belonging’ or ‘stimulating creativity’. In doing so it helps people to understand how the dimensions relate to each other and to find dimensions which are relevant for their work.

The framework includes six domains: five domains for outcomes and one domain for qualities. Outcomes are dimensions which are measuring a change in the survey respondent (e.g., “It challenged me to think in a different way”). Qualities are dimensions which are measuring their personal opinion about the qualities that the work possessed (e.g., “It was ground-breaking”); or the process facilitated through participatory work (e.g., “I felt comfortable trying new things”).


OutcomesCultural: Encourages appreciation and engagement with new and diverse cultural experiences, expanding knowledge and insight, and stimulating creativity.
Social: Improves personal and social wellbeing to support healthy, safe, and inclusive communities.
Community: Strengthens ties between communities and their places.
Economic: Promotes dynamic and resilient local economies that are required to sustain vibrant communities.
Environmental: Increases awareness of environmental issues and connection to the natural world.
QualitiesSubjective assessments about the experience, content or perception of an artwork or performance; or the quality of the facilitation of a participatory process. These are the qualities of a work that may enable other outcomes.


Each of the six domains further break down into two or more outcome areas.

The framework is implemented in a downloadable spreadsheet which includes tools to help you articulate your ambitions and to design dimension lists. It is also implemented in the Culture Counts platform in the dimension selector, which is used when you create your dimension lists.

2. Dimensions Framework development


To understand and appreciate the framework as it is today, it is useful to briefly recount some history and explain where it came from.

The design of the schema implements ideas from three main sources:

  1. The Public Value Measurement Framework (PVMF)
  2. Culture Counts development and testing
  3. The Cultural Development Network (CDN) schema


Public Value Measurement Framework

The dimensions were originally created through an Australian project led by Pracsys Economics in 2011. This project involved investigating and developing a framework for measuring public value (PVMF), created by funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) in Western Australia (WA).

As part of the project, a series of intrinsic value dimensions were identified through extensive consultation with DCA, peer panellists and arts organisations in December 2011. ‘Intrinsic value’ refers to benefits for the individual who experiences the cultural work. These dimensions were categorised into two categories:

  1. Quality dimensions – about the perceived quality of a funded output
  2. Reach dimensions – about its ability to engage diverse sections of the public

In total, there were 15 dimensions created and tested as part of this project. A mobile application was created as a means of collecting digital surveys from the public, as well as from self and peer assessors. This mobile application was then built upon to become the Culture Counts platform.


Culture Counts development and testing

Following the creation of the PVMF and the Culture Counts platform as an evaluation solution available to organisations in the wider cultural sector, further work was carried out to create additional dimensions which were designed to measure a variety of things which cultural organisations felt were missing from the original set. This included the work in the UK with NPO organisations during the: Manchester Metrics Pilot in 2012; the Quality Metrics National Test and the development of the Participatory Metrics in 2015; the development strands in Impact & Insight Toolkit 1 (2019-2023). Creating these new dimensions was crucial as, if there were facets of their work which they were unable to measure, it would limit their ability to measure their impact.

The result of this co-creation work was dozens of new dimensions and variants of existing dimensions. Many of these were focussed on specific types of work (e.g., participatory) or even at different areas of the public sector (e.g., libraries).

This provided excellent coverage in terms of enabling users of the Culture Counts platform to measure the things that were important to their work. However, it meant that it became difficult to think about and find the appropriate dimensions when there were so many to choose from.


CDN schema

The CDN schema is created by the Cultural Development Network, a small organisation based in Australia comprising arts and creative professionals and researchers.

It was developed to facilitate measurement of outcomes of cultural engagement, including arts participation, across the spectrum from ambient to creative and receptive participation. “Outcome” here refers to the impacts of the work on the people who engage with it, and not about assessing the ‘quality’ or ‘excellence’ of the cultural experience.

The schema was created from 2012-2018, through consultation with hundreds of arts policy experts, researchers, and cultural organisations. It posits five outcome domains (cultural, social, economic, environmental and governance) of public policy and activity. All outcomes that a cultural organisation might want to measure can be categorised within these domains.


Five circles with text reading 'Culture', 'Society', 'Governance', 'Economy', and 'Environment' written clockwise on the edge. Text reading 'Vibrant and Rich Cultures', 'Healthy, Safe and Inclusive Society', 'Democratic and Engaged Governance', 'Dynamic and Resilient Local Economies' and 'Sustainable Built and Natural Environments' written clockwise in the centre of the circles. Text reading 'Flourishing an fulfilled individuals' in the centre of the overlapping circles.


There is clearly a significant overlap between the aims of the CDN in creating the schema and in the intentions of Culture Counts as an evaluation platform. As such, the CDN schema has had a large influence over the design of the Culture Counts dimensions schema.


New schema development

The CDN schema provides a well-researched basis for organising the outcomes available as dimensions in the Culture Counts platform. However, the additional focus on ‘quality’ within Culture Counts, in addition to outcomes, means that many of the dimensions do not fit into the outcome-focussed CDN schema.

Further development work has been carried out to expand the CDN schema to allow for the inclusion of all the dimensions. Inspired by client engagement and user testing, some of the more granular categories that sit underneath the outcome domains have also been updated to make them more user-friendly.



3. Download the Dimensions Framework


Download a copy of the Dimensions Framework below.

The screen reader accessible version has been tested using Excel for desktop and web on Window 11 with JAWS and NVDA, and tested using Excel for web on Mac OS Ventura with VoiceOver. Please note, this resource is not fully accessible in Excel for desktop on Mac OS Ventura with VoiceOver.

Information tracking the version updates is contained in the framework.