September 03, 2005

Report on 19 February conference

"Exploring Critical and Instrumental Approaches in Cultural Policy Research"
prepared by Jane Woddis, PhD, and conference organizer

This conference, organised jointly by the Humanities Research Centre and the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, was held on 19th February 2005. The initiative for the event came from CCPS’s PhD group (made up of students and staff from the Centre).

The conference came out of a desire to examine a tension, noted by many commentators, between instrumental and critical research in cultural policy. An increasing amount of investigation and study in this field is being undertaken for purposes other than disinterested academic research: to evaluate cultural projects, provide evidence for policy development, justify public expenditure or particular aspects of cultural practice. Such studies are being undertaken not only by academic researchers, but also, increasingly, by cultural funders, independent and commercial agencies, and to some extent by arts and media organisations or networks themselves.

The tensions in this rising tide of cultural policy research concern the purposes and ethics of instrumental and critical research, as well as fragmented relationships and problems of communication amongst academic researchers, funders, commercial researchers, and cultural practitioners. The conference set out to ask whether these gaps and tensions can be lived with; whether we need to find ways of drawing them together or if it is possible that some separation between the differing approaches is healthy and mutually beneficial. Are there things that each can learn from the other? Does the progress of one affect the other?

The existence of these differing approaches has been accompanied by a theoretical debate over whether either one of them represents most closely what the field of cultural policy research is or should be.

These matters were examined in different ways by the two invited speakers for the conference: Professor Henrik Kaare Nielsen, from the Department of Aesthetics and Culture, University of Aarhus, Denmark, and Sara Selwood, Principal Lecturer at the School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster, and editor of Cultural Trends.

Henrik Kaare Nielsen set his discussion in the context of the technocratisation of society, which has led to increasing instrumentalism in cultural policy research; and he argued for a critical approach which lays bare the factors leading to these developments, and challenges the idea that they are ‘neutral’ and beyond politics. Sara Selwood continued the debate by focusing on Britain’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). She noted that the DCMS has found shortcomings in its instrumentalist policies, but is finding both theoretical and practical policy difficulties in its attempt to move to one that recognises the value of art ‘for its own sake’.

These two interesting contributions led to a very lively discussion that continued throughout the day, and looked set to extend well beyond the close of the event – with some of those attending seeming rather reluctant to leave!

In what is quickly becoming a hallmark of CCPS conferences, those attending included not only staff and postgraduate students from a variety of disciplines at several universities, but also representatives of research consultancies, local authorities, and cultural organisations. It was also a highly international event, with participants coming from as far afield as Athens to attend, as well as many overseas visitors already studying or teaching in the UK.

Feedback, both during the conference itself and in correspondence since, has been extremely positive: “lively, thoughtful and provocative”; “it was refreshing to have time to talk to so many different people”; “stimulating and useful. I found much to ponder on the train back”. CCPS will definitely be aiming to organise another conference in the next twelve months.


November 22, 2004

February conference examines research

The Centre for Cultural Policy Studies and the Humanities Research Centre at University of Warwick present a one-day conference

"Exploring Critical and Instrumental Approaches to Cultural Policy Research"
Saturday, 19 February 2005 (Programme below)
10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Humanities Center, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

An increasing amount of investigation and study in the cultural policy field is being carried out for purposes other than disinterested academic research – to evaluate cultural projects, provide evidence for policy development, and justify public expenditure or particular aspects of cultural practice. Such studies are being undertaken not only by academic researchers, but also, increasingly, by cultural funders, independent and commercial agencies, and by arts and media organisations or networks themselves.

The conference aims to contribute to the development of a theoretical understanding that will help to investigate some of the key problems caused by tensions between instrumental and critical research, while exploring the roles that both approaches have in the development of cultural policy research, and considering the extent to which the progress of each affects the other. It also aims to develop a basis for improving communication among the actors in the field.

Speakers:
J. Mark Schuster is professor of urban studies and planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the U.S. His work concentrates on mapping the cultural policy landscape. Schuster has penned articles such as "Sub-National Cultural Policy-Where the Action is? Mapping State Cultural Policy in the United States," "Neither Public nor Private: The Hybridization of Museums," and "The Other Side of the Subsidized Muse: Indirect Aid Revisited." His recent book is Informing Cultural Policy: The Research and Information Instructure (2003).

Sara Selwood is Editor of Cultural Trends and Principal Lecturer at the School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster.

Henrik Kaare Nielsen is associate professor in the Department of Aesthetics and Culture at University of Aarhus, Denmark. His research focuses on the social and cultural development of modernity, with a focus on the development of Danish and German culture and society since 1945. A central effort in his research aims at renewing the theoretical tradition of Critical Theory thus making it more sensitive to the complexity of modern culture and society. He has authored “Critical Agent or Hired Hand?: Perspectives on Research in Cultural Policy.”

For information and a booking form, email HRC@warwick.ac.uk.

Programme:
10.00 – 10.45 Coffee & registration (Graduate Space, 4th floor Humanities)

Morning Session

10.45 – 11.00 Introductions & practical information about the day

11.00 – 11.50 Professor J. Mark Schuster (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
11.50 – 12.00 Questions & brief comments

12.00 – 12.50 Professor Henrik Kaare Nielsen (University of Aarhus, Denmark)
12.50 – 1.00 Questions & brief comments
__

1.15 – 2.30 Lunch (Graduate Space)
__

Afternoon Session

2.30 – 3.00 In small groups to formulate questions/areas for discussion

3.00 – 4.00 Discussion facilitated by Professor Oliver Bennett (Centre for Cultural Policy Studies)
__

4.00 – 4.30 Tea and biscuits (Graduate Space)
__

4.30 – 5.30 Discussion continued

5.30 – 5.45 Speakers' responses & Chair's closing remarks

6.00 – 7.00 Drinks reception (Graduate Space)


November 12, 2004

PhD research topics in Cultural Policy

PhD students in the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies at University of Warwick are engaged in the following research topics.

Eleonora Belfiore
"Ubi maior, minor cessat: A comparative study of the relation between changing cultural policy rationales and global phenomena in Britain and Italy"

Egil Bjornsen
"The Civilising Mission in Norwegian Cultural Policy"

Hsiao-Ling Chung
"Managing the Co-evolutionary Networking of Audiovisual Production — the Cases of Independent Productions in UK and Taiwan"

Ju-Young Kim
"Opening the Japanese Mass Market to Korea: a threat or opportunity for the Korean cultural industries?"

Hye-Kyung Lee, PhD
"Re-inventing Non-profit Theatre: a theoretical exploration of the growth of education programmes in British subsidised theatre"

Kjell Maelen
"Audience Development for Arts Centres in the 21st Century"

Anna Upchurch
"The Intellectual Origins of the Arts Council Movement: the Cases of Great Britain, Canada and the United States"
For more information about Anna's work, visit her blog by clicking here

Lingjie Wang
"Embedded culture and managing change: China Central Television in transition"
Visit Lingjie's blog by clicking here

Jane Woddis, PhD
"Spear Carriers or Speaking Parts? Arts Practitioners in the Cultural Policy Process"


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