Cities of Culture Research Network: Turning Evaluation into Policy

Lead Research Organisation: University of Hull
Department Name: Culture, Place and Policy Institute

Abstract

The Cities of Culture Research Network: Turning Evaluation into Policy, brings together representatives of all Cities or Capitals of Culture research and evaluation programmes that have taken place in the UK.

Cultural mega-events like the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) and the UK City of Culture (UKCoC) can be effective as catalysts and accelerators for culture-led urban regeneration strategies, through a focused and intensive programme of cultural activities. There are many evaluation studies about the impacts of City of Culture programmes, but they do not explore their medium and long-term effects on a shared UK-wide basis. Furthermore, they are not systematically used for policy development, which is a central issue that this project aims to explore.

The proposed research network creates an interdisciplinary space where academics, postgraduate researchers and local, national and international policy makers can pursue a better collective understanding of the Cities of Culture initiative, whilst specifically exploring the conditions and procedures required to create productive links between evaluation and new policy development. The network includes all (European) Capitals, (UK) Cities and (London) Boroughs of Culture projects delivered by cities within the UK. The network will also connect UK researchers with their European counterparts in Aarhus (Denmark) and Galway (Ireland), allowing the network to benefit from insights into culture-led regeneration practices elsewhere in Europe.

Network membership will consist of a core group of researchers, evaluation professionals and national and international policy representatives, along with an associate group consisting of academics, local policy makers and other interested bodies. The project will also establish a forum for postgraduate scholars researching the Cities of Culture initiative within partner universities and beyond.

The network programme consists of three events. The first is a colloquium, bringing together all network groups to identify challenges, barriers and opportunities for turning collective Cities of Culture research evidence into policy. The second is a two-day specialist workshop where the core group will examine issues raised in greater depth. In the final colloquium, attended by all groups, the outcomes of all events will be examined, leading to the production of key recommendations for effective knowledge exchange between City of Culture researchers and policy makers in the future. The project will result in a website, three summary reports and one key recommendations document. Outcomes will be disseminated via the website and through the professional and academic networks of project members. The outcomes of the network will also be published in a professional magazine, such as Local Government Association First and as an academic paper in a leading cultural policy journal such as the International Journal of Cultural Policy or Cultural Trends.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from the research network?

The network will contribute to academic research on the Cities of Culture initiative and its social, economic, spatial and cultural impacts. It will influence the ongoing research of network members by offering new perspectives and longitudinal insights, gained via discussion and activities at network events. The postgraduate forum will ensure that early career researchers also benefit from the interactions and findings.

In parallel, the key objective of the project is to utilise collective research to influence the development of cultural policy, specifically that relating to future City of Culture projects. To this end, the network ensures participation of UK national organisations with an arts and cultural policy remit, along with representatives from local authorities who have delivered (or will deliver) a City of Culture programme and other interested bodies. These partners will all gain from the insights and recommendations resulting from the network. The participation of academic and policy partners from Aarhus (Denmark) and Galway (Ireland) will ensure that UK members also benefit from wider European perspectives and that our European partners will have the opportunity to learn from UK experience. Beyond the network, the dissemination of outcomes via the academic and professional networks of members will ensure the findings and recommendations can be utilised by the wider cultural policy and research community.


Network participants will benefit from:

Hearing presentations from a range of high profile academic researchers and other experts in the interdisciplinary field of City of Culture research and policy.
Interaction between established academics, early career researchers and policy professionals.
The production of new collective and longitudinal insights
The creation of conditions to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and insights between the producers (academics) and users (policy makers) of research.
Recommendations regarding effective procedures for turning City of Culture evaluation and research into future policy.
The opportunity to draw upon network contacts and findings to develop future research proposals and funding bids
The opportunity to build a strong relationship with the forthcoming AHRC Centre for Cultural Value and to establish the network as a specialist sub-group affiliated to the Centre.

The wider research and policy making community will benefit from access to the insights and recommendations produced by the network, disseminated via the project website and including summary reports and recommendation documents. The community will also benefit from the publication of the outcomes in a professional magazine, such as the Local Government Association First and in a leading academic cultural journal such as the International Journal of Cultural Policy or Cultural Trends.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Discussions at the first network meeting touched on several topics of relevance to the evaluation-public policy nexus. One important theme in the debate underlined the importance of tracking voices of dissent throughout the City of Culture process, even though dissent can be disruptive. Making place for dissent and alternative views is important not because dissent is automatically right, but because dissent is "truthful" and "authentic" for the actors involved in the process.
Exploitation Route In order to turn evaluation into policy, participants at the first network event (July 2019) argued that a combination of quantitative and qualitative data (including the use of story telling and related methodologies) is necessary in order to persuade the different types of stakeholders (including academics, local authorities, and cultural policy making bodies), to form a coalition of complementary interests that can influence policy making in the field of culture-led urban regeneration.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description Our discussions at the first meeting of the Research Network (July 2019) attempted to untangle what are the conditions and procedures through which the findings from City of Culture evaluation programmes feed into cultural and urban strategies and what are the opportunities, challenges and barriers to this. Our discussions also focused on what are the roles of universities, specialist research institutes, and academics in this process of turning City of Culture evaluation into policy, and what are the advantages but also the challenges and barriers of this collaboration between academics and policy makers. It is too early to say how the conclusions from the meeting will inform the work of policy makers and managers working on City of Culture and other similar cultural mega events.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

 
Description Cities of Culture Research Network - first network meeting, University of Hull, July 2019 
Organisation Arts Council England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The University of Hull, through the Culture, Place and Policy Institute took the lead in organising and hosting the first meeting of the research network, held on 31st July 2019. This involved playing a key role in the definition of the programme of the meeting in liaising with partners in academia, national policy making and funding bodies, and local authorities in three countries (UK, Ireland and Denmark).
Collaborator Contribution Professor Jonothan Neelands (Warwick University) as Co-Investigator played an important role in shaping the aims and programme of the first network event held in July 2019. Partners from a variety of organisations (including Arts Council England, the Institute of Cultural Capital at the University of Liverpool, Coventry University, Queen's University Belfast, Galway City Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, the National University of Ireland, Galway, the Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest and of Brent, the British Council, Aarhus University, the Central Denmark Region, the Audience Agency) all spoke at the event and contributed to its success.
Impact The first event of the AHRC Research Network "Cities of Culture: Turning Evaluation into Policy" took place at the University of Hull on 31st July 2019. The meeting explored the gap between Cities of Culture evaluation and policy making, and the possibilities and limitations of bridging this gap between research and policy. Approximately 50 people took part in the first network event, an even mix between UK and EU-based academics (core group), UK policy makers and cultural managers (associate group), and postgraduate and early career researchers (postgraduate forum). This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration, involving the following disciplines: cultural policy, cultural management, events management, cultural studies, tourism studies, anthropology, human geography and town planning.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Cities of Culture Research Network - first network meeting, University of Hull, July 2019 
Organisation Hull City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The University of Hull, through the Culture, Place and Policy Institute took the lead in organising and hosting the first meeting of the research network, held on 31st July 2019. This involved playing a key role in the definition of the programme of the meeting in liaising with partners in academia, national policy making and funding bodies, and local authorities in three countries (UK, Ireland and Denmark).
Collaborator Contribution Professor Jonothan Neelands (Warwick University) as Co-Investigator played an important role in shaping the aims and programme of the first network event held in July 2019. Partners from a variety of organisations (including Arts Council England, the Institute of Cultural Capital at the University of Liverpool, Coventry University, Queen's University Belfast, Galway City Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, the National University of Ireland, Galway, the Government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest and of Brent, the British Council, Aarhus University, the Central Denmark Region, the Audience Agency) all spoke at the event and contributed to its success.
Impact The first event of the AHRC Research Network "Cities of Culture: Turning Evaluation into Policy" took place at the University of Hull on 31st July 2019. The meeting explored the gap between Cities of Culture evaluation and policy making, and the possibilities and limitations of bridging this gap between research and policy. Approximately 50 people took part in the first network event, an even mix between UK and EU-based academics (core group), UK policy makers and cultural managers (associate group), and postgraduate and early career researchers (postgraduate forum). This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration, involving the following disciplines: cultural policy, cultural management, events management, cultural studies, tourism studies, anthropology, human geography and town planning.
Start Year 2019