Creative Economy & Cultures of Production

New Film on “Mapping Social Value” at the London School of Mosaic

Dr Lauren England from the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries is excited to share a research video on “Mapping Social Value” which presents an innovative method for capturing the value of small arts organisations.

The film was produced for the project “Socially Engaged Art and Policy” funded by the British Academy and led by Dr England, Dr Chandra Morrison (LSE), and Dr Ed Charlton (QMUL). This research seeks to explore ways of translating the value of community arts organisations to policymakers and funders in ways that do not reproduce the economic logic of austerity.

To approach this question, the project takes the London School of Mosaic (LSoM) as its main case study. LSoM is an expanding but still relatively small arts organisation located in Gospel Oak, North London, where they run a range of educational and social programmes. Like many socially engaged arts organisations and arts charities, LSoM are required to monitor their work and report on their social impact as part of their funding obligations. However, such reporting structures often place emphasis on finding an economic value equivalent. This fails to capture the diversity of value generated by a community-based organisation and space such as LSoM.

Adopting a co-design methodology, the research team collaborated with the London School of Mosaic and the interdisciplinary design collective RESOLVE to develop a workshop that used emotional mapping to explore the latent social value of LSoM in the local area. Participants were a mix of community stakeholders, including local residents, artists, community leaders, LSoM staff, and a council officer. The team also brought on independent filmmaker Pablo Aravena to record the workshop activities and to help make a short film about the process.

The resulting film “Mapping Social Value” documents the multiple activities, exchanges, and insights garnered from the emotional mapping workshop held in October 2022 at LSoM. In the video, you can watch Akil Scafe-Smith, from RESOLVE, take participants through the steps of emotional mapping as they markup maps of the area. And you can hear participants’ reflections on the impact and insights gained through this creative process, unpacked during a group reflection session and individual interviews.

The film shows how emotional mapping, as a creative method, has a capacity to visualise personal habits and to identify hubs of shared activity. It also excels at revealing competing and complementary feelings about a place. This is captured visually on the maps, but also through the group and individual reflections held after the main mapping activity.

As conveyed through this research film, emotional mapping can be a useful tool for arts organisations to understand their own value as well as the needs and experiences of their community. The video’s final reflections point, too, to the great potential of this method for use by local policymakers, enabling them to think in more qualitative, expansive, and perhaps even emotional terms about place as a way to re-evaluate the value of community assets that exist in a local area.

The film “Mapping Social Value” is available for viewing at: