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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

Comparative Cultural Strategy and socio-economic indicators

A research project of the Department of Sociology, part of the Economy and Society and Sociology and Social Policy research groups.

Background

A combined team from Culture North East (CNE) and the University of Durham will work together to gather evidence on the relationship between culture and policy in the North East of England, and to compare this with the situation in Europe (initially focusing on Alsace). This work will focus on current culture-led economic regeneration projects and urban deprivation amelioration work, with particular attention being paid to the respective methodologies for the preliminary and subsequent evaluation of these initiatives, and to their general reception within regional discussion forums. This will contribute to the development of cultural strategy in the NE region, not just for CNE but also for other regional bodies such as universities and local authorities.

Aims

1. To explore the field of UK and European cultural strategy in order to develop an analytic model of component elements and overall types.
2. To analyse, in both Europe and the UK, the specific criteria used to determine which culture-led initiatives are successful in obtaining European, national and regional funding; and to follow through these projects to analyse the performance measures used to gauge their relative success.
3. To explore and analyse the potential power and applications of those emergent and established performance indicators which are relatively little or not at all used with respect to judgements of potential and/or performance within the cultural sector.
4. To assemble the necessary evidence, and then on that basis produce a general description of the ruling economic and social policy assumptions with respect to the cultural sector, within the UK and its NE region, and within at least one comparable European area.
5. To provide a report and – as appropriate – recommendations to the NE cultural sector widely defined, through regional publication and public seminars.
6. To report on the outcomes of the research project:

  • to the social policy sector in the form of a submission to the Journal of Social Policy
  • to the economic development sector in the form of a text book treatment of cultural strategy aimed at informing this sector of trends, cases and recent thinking
  • to regional bodies, including universities, through Culture North East’s representation and reporting function within regional forums
  • to the relevant departments of state through a report to DCMS.

Methods

  • Drawing comparisons and contrasts between culture-led initiatives in North East England with those from elsewhere, the project will proceed by
  • Analysing the specific criteria used to determine how culture-led initiatives are successful in obtaining European, national and regional funding (focusing on the UK regions and Europe, beginning from Alsace).
  • Following through these projects to analyse the performance measures used to gauge their relative success.
  • Developing fieldwork which will radiate from the two centres of NE England and Alsace – the latter being not only a key European gateway city where Professor Boyne will be spending part of a research sabbatical term, but also a vital regional centre similar in size to the NE, with strong interests in higher education, science research and culture, a strong regional capital, and significant economic deprivation in outlying areas
  • Demonstrating, on the basis of the evidence drawn together from the above work, the ruling economic and social policy assumptions with respect to the cultural sector, within the UK and its NE region and also within a comparable part of Europe.
  • Exploring and analysing the potential power and applications of those emergent and established performance indicators which are relatively little or not at all used with respect to judgements of potential and/or performance within the UK cultural sector.
  • Developing an overall typology of cultural strategies and their component elements within which the NE and other place-specific cultural strategies can be seen in proper comparative perspective.

Findings

  • Outcomes will be reported to the NE cultural sector widely defined, through regional publication and public seminars, to the social policy sector in the form of a submission to the Journal of Social Policy, to the economic development sector in the form of a text book treatment of cultural strategy aimed at informing the professional investment sector of trends, cases and opportunities, to the relevant departments of state through a report to DCMS, and to the public and private sector organisations of the North East of England through CNE’s representative role within regional forums and through ad hoc follow-up seminars.
  • Right from the beginning of the research period, it would be intended to anticipate building upon what will already have been achieved with research bids to the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Union Culture 2007 programme (due to be finalised by the end of 2005; and the ‘third strand’ of which aims to support ‘analysis and information’), and UNESCO. In addition to this – after the conclusion of the PVF funded element - the research work at the core of this project will continue, funded both from CNE’s core budget, and through partnership work with other relevant organisations. It should be emphasised that neither partner to this application sees this as a ‘one-off’ but rather as the beginning of a long-throw research programme of considerable significance.

Staff

From the Department of Sociology

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