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Creative Industries and Cultural Policy

For me it is tricky to select a primary interest in regards to the creative industries and culture; my key interests change as I gain more experience within the industry. I am quite interested in radio production – in terms of documentaries with an intended demographic that represents me. However I have recently developed an interested in social media: its usage and application to topical debates. This leads me to consider the extent in which social media is relative to creative and cultural debates. ‘Social media’ is a very broad interest – honing down this area to include other interests such as deciphering how social media is utilised by ‘creative businesses’ within Birmingham (or other locations) could provide an interesting point of study for me.

I’ve also very recently become interested in digital democracy and the use of online tools within politics – I’d like to find a way to relate this to research, I feel the most feasible way is to consider consumption. However, this is still a work in progress.

I am also interested in the ‘cultural turn’ – the shift from cultural to creative industries and how this is emulated within policymaking – something which has developed from previous personal research concerning the Creative Industries and Cultural Policy. I feel that a key focus for me currently is to examine participation within the cultural industries, whether this is through social network analysis or the study of cultural policy.

To summarise:

  • I am interested in the production of cultural policy and how this affects (in a measurable extent) the consumption/participation of creative and cultural activities. In a sense here the production is the policymaking process – which would be an interesting point of study.
  • I’m interested in creative and cultural participation within Birmingham (also how this compares to other cities.) I could observe social media usage – for example a creative business in Birmingham could use social media as a tool for increasing participation.

Related sources:

Bakhshi, H., and Throsby, D. (2010). Culture of Innovation: An Economic Analysis of Innovation in Arts and Cultural Organisations. Nesta.

Bilton, C. (2012). Manageable Creativity. International Journal of Cultural Policy: Creativity and Cultural Policy. Vol 16, No 3, pp. 25-39.

Boda, S. et al., (eds) (2006). When Culture Makes the Difference: Heritage, Arts and Media in Multicultural Society. Rome: Melter ni Editore.

Johanson, K., Glow, H., and Kershaw, A. (2014). New modes of arts participation and the limits of cultural indicators for local government. Poetics. Vol 43, pp. 43-59.

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Production Cultures

Key Reading:

Bilton, C. (2012) ‘Manageable Creativity’. International Journal of Cultural Policy – Special Issue on ‘Creativity and Cultural Policy’ ed. C. Bilton,Vol. 16, No 3, pp. 255 – 269.

Dealing with Creativity

I feel that the notion of ‘creativity’ is a very perplex term – it appears to be used in a manner of ways, which adds to the confusion. Though, Bilton addresses this: ‘paradox and contradiction are at the core of most theoretical definitions of creativity.’ (2012: 28) Bilton’s argues that within cultural policy there is an ‘assumption that original creative ideas and talented individuals will have a transforming effect on the wider creative economy.’ (2012: 30)

Bilton’s article argues that the idea of ‘manageable creativity’ can be traced back to a ‘heroic’ and a ‘structural’ model of creativity. He explores how these two models translate into management and policy. The key theorist Bilton utilises is Levitt, applying the notion of destructive creativity to these two models.

Heroic Model

This model highlights the transforming impact of a dynamic, visionary creative individual on a business. The heroic model is in favour of an individualistic, trait-based theory of creativity. Though, as Bilton highlights, the heroic model is based upon a perception of ‘creativity’ that originates from a business view – there is a lack of focus or analysis of creative processes and products. Bilton argues that this model has already been ‘widely discredited’ yet the assumptions behind this model continue to influence the attitudes in managing ‘creativity’.

Bilton’s Key arguments on heroic creativity:

  • Heroic creativity represents a one-sided definition of creative processes and people.
  • Heroic creativity locates creativity within a minority of exceptional individuals.
  • Heroic creativity is likely to be concentrated within certain organisations (Apple/Google), geographical territories or in specific communities and cultures, rather than as a distributed ‘normal’ human trait.
  • Heroic creativity is hierarchical – because it is innate to an individual or specific place.
  • Heroic creativity assumes that these individuals transform the world around them.

‘Today’s managers regard the effects of creative destruction and disruption as essentially benign, and the creative individual as contributing to the greater good, not driven by essentially selfish or self-actualising motives.’

(Bilton, 2012: 29)

One particular statement which stood out for me is the following:

‘Because creative individuals are both privileged and marginalised, they find themselves insulated from the realities of the business, much like a ‘gifted and talented’ child among their peers. Not surprisingly this isolation can lead to dysfunction and self-destruction.’

(2012: 30)

If managerial actions are still being influenced by heroic creativity then one questions what is being done – if anything – to counteract the previous statement. Does this tie in with the drive for economic growth as a key focus of creative work – or does the management of creativity demonstrate a ‘human’ notion, in the sense that managers consider wellbeing?

Interestingly Bilton suggests that within the heroic creativity ‘creative individuals remain for the most part outside the policy process.’ (2012: 32) Suggesting that the managerial approach to heroic creativity is a kind of non-management, laissez-faire attitude – then does heroic creativity complement the notion of art for art’s sake?

Structural Model

‘Theories of creativity have moved beyond individual, person-based approaches towards collective, process-based models.’ (Bilton 2007/2010) This is a significant shift as it paves the way for theoretical literature and a focus on an interest in ‘teams, networks and organisational environments as sources of innovation.’ (Bilton, 2012: 28)

My interpretation of the structural model is largely influenced by the notion that ‘creative processes rely upon our knowledge and experience within this field, and networks of like-minded others help us to access these resources.’ (2012: 33) Bilton refers to the structural model as a ‘sociocultural’ model of creativity, which – in my opinion – sums up the model perfectly when one considers the heroic model. Does the structural model accommodate to those whom the heroic model fails to serve? Or does it consider creativity as a larger, communitarian process?

‘The sociocultural model of creativity fits with a growing emphasis on organisational culture as the source of organisational mission and purpose, with a ‘transformational’ model of leadership.’

(2012: 33)

Bilton implies that a shift towards ‘collective creativity’ (structural creativity) is apparent in the creative industries, and that there is an emphasis in terms of management on creativity and systems which facilitate creative talent as opposed to the heroic model – the creative talent itself.

Key arguments concerning the structural model:

  • The structural model assumes a predictable relationship between inputs and outcomes.
  • The model locates individual creativity in a broader context of a creative economy based on knowledge, ideas and innovation – creativity is made manageable – but loses it’s critical, disruptive edge as highlighted by Levitt.
  • Creative systems and their outcomes are assumed benign.

I question whether structural, sociocultural creativity in relation to cultural policy fails to consider the purpose of the art (in a sense that it is for personal development, spiritual gain etc.) Or does the structural model consider the purpose of art solely as an output from a collective of creatives whom work toward a capitalist gain? Bilton discusses NESTA’s argument for ‘a connection between creativity and ‘innovation’, where artistic creativity is seen not as an end in itself but embedded within a process of innovation and entrepreneurship.’ (2012: 34) I feel here that the term creative is suitably positioned in the term ‘creative industries’ – art is for an industrial purpose, whether that’s through a heroic, individualistic model, or a collective-creativity, sociocultural focused model of managing creativity – does cultural policy cultivate this?

Identification of policy body and policymakers

Using Policy to Identify Policy Makers

This report portrays the complexities and processes involved in identifying specific policy-makers. Utilising cultural policy in Birmingham I explore the ‘Big City Culture’ strategy; discussing the difficulties involved in policy research when seeking information merely from the policy itself.

Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council is a local government body; one responsibility of the council is the creation and implementation of multiple policies concerning the city of Birmingham. The council takes a hierarchical approach to the formulation of policy making; with the Corporate Strategy Team working to develop a ‘council that works together for a fair, prosperous and democratic Birmingham, (Birmingham City Council [BCC]; 2014). The Corporate Strategy Team joins up:

‘[t]he leadership infrastructure, supporting senior officers and leading Members, making sure that decisions are implemented efficiently and effective. CST provides public and media relations services and central government relationship management.’

Birmingham City Council: 2014

The Corporate Strategy Team has vertical functions; the Strategy Policy Team, Strategic Research Team and Strategic Development constitute just three of the key aggregations within the hierarchy. In addition the council focuses on creating a vision for the cultural sector in Birmingham through the Birmingham City Council Cultural Services. The Cultural Services branch of the council prioritises work from the ‘Council Plan’ and the ‘Cultural Strategy.’ Birmingham’s Cultural Strategy is ‘Big City Culture,’ a strategy that ‘expresses the shared priorities of the partners within the Birmingham Cultural Partnership.’ (BCC, Cultural Services: 2014)

Locating Policy by Birmingham City Council

I located the ‘Big City Culture’ policy through the Birmingham City Council website; through research of the Birmingham City Council Cultural Services. Big City Culture is identified as the cultural strategy for Birmingham – as it is presented by the City Council in the form of a hyperlinked webpage one can only assume that the strategy is formulated and implemented through Birmingham City Council.

Interestingly I note that whilst searching for a copy of the policy I located a PDF file from the Birmingham City Council website and another – heavily illustrated – copy through the Birmingham Cultural Partnership. Both copies differed slightly – in terms of language used, in the copy provided by the BCP there is a denser content of text; this may be an edited – final – copy of the strategy, whereas the BCC version contains text, with a lack of images. Furthermore, the BCC edition includes contact details for Simon Bennett (Birmingham Cultural Partnership Manager) – the BCP copy simply includes the arts team Birmingham as a contact. These differences are interesting when trying to ascertain the policy-makers of Big City Culture; this demonstrates the value of research when studying policy.

Big City Culture 2010 – 2015

Our strategy ‘Big City Culture 2010-2015’ provides a clear focus and articulates shared priorities for the development of culture in Birmingham.

‘This will assist effective strategic planning at a city, local and sector level. It has been developed by the Birmingham Cultural Partnership (BCP) who are responsible for overseeing its delivery.’

Big City Culture is a strategy that has been developed alongside other strategies created for the Birmingham 2026, the Sustainable Community Strategy for the city of Birmingham. Big City Culture constitutes the cultural component of the Birmingham 2026 strategy.

Through anatomizing and studying the policy it is feasible to uncover aspects of the policy making process; details of how the policy shall be evaluated, and who has an input in the formulation of the strategy is evident within the policy itself.

Who are the Policymakers?

Coherently identifying the policymakers for this specific strategy is complex, despite recognition of the ‘Birmingham Cultural Partnership’ (BCP) within the introduction. My point here is that although the BCP has been identified further exploration into this partnership is rather complex. Through initial research into the BCP several other partnerships appear, complicating the matter of identifying, or understanding how the BCP functions. The language within the strategy does not provide much in terms of recognizing individual policymakers. ‘Big City Culture’ is our joint commitment to ensuring that culture continues to play a key role in the development of Birmingham.’ (BCP, 2010: Foreword)The lexis ‘our joint’ implies that the policy is a product of multiple agencies striving toward one goal – developing Birmingham.

The Big City Culture strategy provides four key strategic themes that shall be developed by members of BCP and other organisations in the city. These themes I have discussed in the subsequent text in order to uncover any information within the policy that demonstrates those involved in the formulation of the strategy.

Theme A: Culture on Your Doorstep

Culture on Your Doorstep is the first strategic theme of Big City Culture. Instead of outlining the key points of this theme I shall note the information that is presented within the text that offers an insight into the processes of policymaking. The text highlights the consultation and research that has been undertaken to provide a starting point for policy – in this case it is: The Birmingham City Centre Masterplan: The Visioning Study by the Institute for Urban Affairs, Liverpool John Moores University 2007. Reference to other strategies and initiatives existent within Birmingham are also highlighted:

  • Building Schools for the Future (BSF)
  • The Total Place Initiative
  • Be Active

The policy makers are evidently drawing upon extensive research into culture, again they identify – in the form of footnotes – research that has been drawn upon throughout the formulation of this policy. Such as: the Institute of Public Policy Research, Culture and Civic Renewal, 2006.

Theme B: Next Generation

The Next Generation strategic theme depicts the importance of cultural participation in young people. ‘Participation in culture is vital in ensuring the health and wellbeing of our young people.’ (2010: 9) The Next Generation strategic theme identifies ‘A Creative Future II’ as a key strategy for cultural entitlement within Birmingham. The Big City Culture strategy has mapped the key components of ‘A Creative Future II’ and identified any additional activities to be commissioned, such as promoting the Arts Award and Sports Leaders Award.

Reference to other strategies and initiatives existent within Birmingham in the Next Generation strategic theme:

  • A Creative Future II
  • Birmingham Sport & Physical Activity Strategy
  • Five Hour Sport Offer
  • Promotion of the Arts Award and Sports Leaders Awards

Indications of how the policy will be measured – evaluated – are present within the strategy. By 2015 the achievements of the Next Generation strategy will be measured through the ‘national indicator NI57.’

Theme C: Stronger Cultural and Creative Industries

This strategic theme explores the cultural and creative industries within Birmingham. It offers a brief insight into the ‘cultural quarters’ across the city – something which was recognized through mapping the creative industries in Birmingham. The question here though is who carried out this ‘mapping’ process? In the subsequent paragraph within this section of the strategy it states: ‘our primary strengths are in partnerships and organisational capacity.’ (2010: 12) As aforementioned earlier in this report the matter of determining who constitutes these partnerships is rather complex. The policy itself acknowledges these partnerships yet it does not directly state the members involved. Instead the Birmingham Cultural Partnership (BCP) is illustrated as ‘a cross-sectoral body comprising representatives from public, private and not-for-profit cultural organisations.’ (2010: 12) This statement provides a sense of those involved in formulating the strategy – potentially suggesting that a large team of agencies had an impact in the policymaking processes.

This sub-section of Big City Culture offers the most in terms of providing details of the policy-makers. Details of the BCP are outlined – albeit very narrowly – the partnership works alongside the Birmingham Economic Development Partnership (BEDP) to support Birmingham’s creative industries.

             ‘Partnership support goes beyond single-issue, single agency engagement to support individual and industry growth, infrastructure, audience and market development.’

                                                                                                                                            Big City Culture, 2010: 12

It is evident that the policy-makers for Big City Culture are those involved in the partnership, and that this partnership intends to develop and build new programmes that shall help shape and nurture the creative and cultural industries.

Theme D: A Great International City of the Future

An indication that the strategy has been implemented through an organisation that frequently produces policy is evident within this sub-section of Big City Culture. ‘We are, in the Big City Plan (City Centre Masterplan), creating a city centre which can better serve our cultural offer,’ the pronoun ‘we’ refers to the policy-makers, in this case – Birmingham City Council. (2010: 15) This then demonstrates that Birmingham City Council has implemented several policies, such as the Big City Plan and Big City Culture. Further research into the Big City Plan[1] shows that Birmingham City Council has also created partnerships, such as the Birmingham City Centre Partnership; these partnerships are imperative for Birmingham City Council’s policymaking process.

Within this Big City Culture strategic theme several references to research undertaken during the policy-making process are identified:

  • European Cities Monitor 2009
  • Regional perceptions indicator – West Midlands
  • The Birmingham City Centre Masterplan: The Visioning Study

This portrays the breadth and depth of research undertaken to support the strategy, and to ensure the validity of the strategy.


Further Research

Utilising additional platforms available through Birmingham City Council offers greater knowledge of the individuals involved in the creation of ‘Big City Culture.’ Although the policy itself presents Birmingham City Council (the Birmingham Cultural Partnership) as the key policy-makers specific names, or details, are missing. Though; one questions the need to include the names of policy-makers within the policy itself – is it relevant to the content included within the policy? Do those whom the policy serves need an awareness of those involved in the creation of the policy? – In fact, are those whom the policy serves aware of the policy itself?

Putting the latter two questions aside – they offer a separate potential piece of research – the need to determine policy-makers is of interest to me, certainly in terms of anatomizing a policy and understanding the origins of Big City Culture. Birmingham City Council has a useful archive available for research of democratic documents concerning the city. Through this archive I have sourced documents concerning Big City Culture from 2010.

A report – grey literature – from the Strategic Director of Environment & Culture on behalf of Birmingham City Council (Big City Culture UK City of Culture Public report) presented to Cabinet is available to the public. Its primary concern is the Big City Culture strategy with the intention of requesting Cabinet to: ‘endorse Big City Culture 2010-15, the refreshed cultural strategy developed by the Birmingham Cultural Partnership (BCP).’ The report supplies the policy-analyst with in-depth detail of the policy itself, and represents potential tasks a policy-maker must undertake during the policy-making process. The lead contact officer for the report is Val Birchall – Head of Arts at Birmingham City Council. This indicates a specific individual involved in formulation of the policy, as well as providing contact for further potential research.


Potential Further Academic Research

Though within this report I have analysed and touched upon aspects such as the language used, and the policy-making process there is certainly room for further – in depth – study. In fact, this report is merely a foundation for further research that I intend to carry out. Throughout the process of studying Big City Culture I have formulated several potential research questions – for further understanding of policymakers as well as targeting other areas of policy research.

 Potential Research Questions

– How many organisations, or ‘experts,’ are involved in the policy-making process?

– Governmental Policy Making – is it possible to identify the cultural intermediaries and specific policy makers?

– Policy Language: Making sense of the lexis used within Policy – what does it reveal of the policy-making process?

– Local Policy-making: Are the methods used for policy-making reflected from a national level to local, regional policy- making?

– Cultural Policy: Birmingham City Council – who are the cultural intermediaries, how do they impact the policy-making process?

Methods of Research

There are numerous angles for further research; I feel that ‘Big City Culture’ provides an interesting source for policy analysis. The key intentions of this report are to identify the policy-makers involved in Big City Culture, another method that will allow for identification of specific policy makers would be to contact Birmingham City Council and ask them directly. Interviews with those at Birmingham City Council would prove insightful for understanding the process of policymaking, and its implementation.


Bibliography

– Birmingham City Council Cultural Services. http://birmingham.gov.uk/arts

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/cs/Satellite/cppt?packedargs=website%3D4&rendermode=live

– Birmingham’s Cultural Strategy. Birmingham Big City Culture. http://birminghamculture.org/birmingham-cultural-partnership/our-strategy

– Birmingham City Council. Democracy in Birmingham. http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/democracy

– Birmingham City Council / Democracy. Search Documents. http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/democracy/Pages/SearchDocuments.aspx?SearchText=big+city+culture&isFullTextSearch=False

– Birmingham City Council. (2010) Big City Culture UK City of Culture Public report. Birmingham.gov.uk/democracy, May 2010.

– Birmingham City Council, Information Briefing, Local Development Plan – Big City Plan PDF,  Birmingham.gov.uk/democracy, April 2010.

The expression ‘cultural intermediaries’ is one that is often utilised within academic studies. Through my research and observation of scholarly work concerning the creative industries and cultural policy it is evident that similar themes of dispute such as defining the ‘creative industries’ impact the discussion and work to determine and conceptualise cultural intermediaries. The importance of developing an understanding of what cultural intermediaries are and their practices is important as a scholar.

The term ‘intermediaries’ is utilised in studies such as Jakob and van Heur’s work in Intermediaries and Organisation of the Creative Economy; ‘the effectiveness and ethics of the creative economy will largely depend on the intermediaries that shape and regulate it.’ (Jakob and van Heur: 2014). The need for intermediaries seems to be of importance to the processes of production and consumption in creative and cultural spheres. As Jakob and van Heur suggest there are differing types of intermediaries ranging from:

‘arts and cultural councils, policy networks, economic development agencies, foundations and unions to artist collectives, cultural centres, creative industries incubators, festivals and tradeshows.’

2014: 1

This complicates my understanding of cultural intermediaries as I interpreted them to be individuals, not bodies or organisations. An example offered by Jakob and van Heur is crowd-sourcing websites; this type of intermediary mediates ‘between producers and consumers of creative products and connect them in unparalleled ways.’ (2014: 1) If cultural intermediaries – organisations and bodies – can mediate the creative and cultural industries then surely ethical issues are to be questioned? The matter of who controls decision-making, and how this is done within large organisations seems – to me – a complex issue in relation to cultural intermediaries. Is this type of mediation fair? For one to be an intermediary within an organisation – or to be an organisation representative of its employee’s attitudes and values is what concerns me as a researcher of policy.

Julian Matthews and Jennifer Smith Maguire in the introduction to their recent publication The Cultural Intermediaries Reader open with the following statement:

‘Cultural intermediaries are the taste makers defining what counts as good taste and cool culture in today’s marketplace. Working at the intersection of culture and economy, they perform critical operations in the production and promotion of consumption, constructing legitimacy and adding value through the qualification of goods.’

2014: 1

Drawing upon Matthews and Smith’s initial introduction to defining a cultural intermediary I identify these intermediaries – tastemakers – as individuals that benefit the cultural sector, yet I question how they are ‘critical’ and the testament of them adding ‘value’ certainly needs to be further explored. I feel a more distinct portrayal of these ‘critical operations’ that Matthews and Smith identify is needed. Yet, here I have naively raised questions from the opening statements of a book dedicated to conceptualise the term ‘cultural intermediary.’

Matthews and Smith delve further into the notion of a cultural intermediary, noting that discussion into the dialectical relationship between culture and economy has taken the focus from arguments concerning production and consumption. This, to me, indicates that a cultural intermediary may act as a connection between both the cultural sector and its profit – whether that is economically, or spiritually. These cultural intermediaries may shape peoples beliefs in terms of consumption, and possibly convincing bodies to invest in culture.

Bourdieusian Beliefs

Pierre Bourdieu is often cited when conceptualising ‘cultural intermediaries.’ Bourdieu, once again, leads the way in anatomizing the role of these intermediaries, and further introducing the ‘new cultural intermediaries.’

Discussing Bourdieu’s notion of ‘new cultural intermediaries,’ (Bourdieu, 1984: 365-371) Nixon and Du Gay (2002) generate a belief that:

‘these groups of workers are able to exert, from their positions within the cultural institutions, a certain amount of cultural authority as shapers of taste and the inculcators of new consumerist dispositions.’

Cultural intermediaries then – or ‘new’ cultural intermediaries – have an impact on how we, as consumers of cultural products act. Bourdieu offers examples of ‘new cultural intermediaries,’ implying that they are most typically ‘producers of cultural programmes on the TV and radio, or critics of ‘quality’ newspapers and magazines, and all the writer-journalist writers.’ (1984: 325) Bourdieu argues that these new intermediaries have created several series of genres ‘half-way between legitimate culture and mass-production.’ Bourdieu argues that cultural intermediaries are at a low-position in the hierarchies of intellectual production and they are ambivalent to intellectual or scientific authorities. The ‘genres’ or the ‘not-yet-legitimate arts’ combine with the effects of the allodoxia, which leads to a distance from the centre of cultural values – producing ‘objectified images of the petit-bourgeois culture.’ Bourdieu further argues that this juxtaposes ‘old-fashioned’ legitimate – devalued – products. (1984: 326) This perspective is built upon the concept of mass-production, as I noted earlier the discourses that are derivative of the cultural intermediary argument have shifted to the dialectical relationship of culture and economy, as opposed to production and consumption.

Leading Individuals: Experts of the Field?

Matthews and Smith imply that cultural economy is a major-influencer of scholarly work concerning cultural intermediaries. Empirical accounts of intermediaries and their role in the production of meaning may hint at any interaction of influence in policymaking. There is a range of cultural intermediary occupations, as suggested by Matthews and Smith, cultural intermediaries are ‘market actors who construct value by mediating how goods (or services, practices, people) are perceived and engaged with by others.’ The emphasis on value formation – Matthews and Smith argue that ‘value formation through mediation’ is necessary, however ‘cultural intermediaries must be defined by their expert orientation and market context.’ (2014: 2) My understanding then is that cultural intermediaries utilise their expertise in the cultural field to influence meaning-making – value – for consumers and audiences.

I am drawn to further exploration of the term ‘expertise,’ what is perceived to be ‘expertise,’ and how is this level of ‘expertise’ measured before one can be deemed a cultural intermediary? Furthermore, how is this relevant to cultural policy? ‘Experts’ have contributed to the prominence of the ‘Creative Industries’ notion within ‘national and international policy debates and academic and popular discourses,’ as argued by Prince. (2010: 876) Prince further argues that there is a ‘particular community of actors […] cast as creative industries experts.’ (2010: 876) Are these ‘experts’ cultural intermediaries? These experts portrayed by Prince were ‘a small group of cultural sector practitioners, council officers, researchers and entrepreneurs,’ all of which worked through the Forum on Creative Industries (FOCI.)

Define: Cultural Intermediary

Matthews and Smith (2014: 4) explore the multiple definitions of ‘cultural intermediaries,’ locating the intermediary ‘between the moments of consumption and production’ proves to be a common practice amidst this discussion. Production and consumption frequently appears throughout arguments concerning cultural intermediaries – identifying why this happens may provide a decisive definition of the term – and the role of these actors.

‘Economy’ is also often at the forefront of discussions presented by Matthews and Smith in the Cultural Intermediaries Reader, ‘considering the interdependence between the two spheres of production and consumption as conceptualized in the literatures on economization and the economy of qualities.’ (2014: 4) Matthews and Smith’s discussion of cultural intermediaries develops my understanding that an intermediary is offering ‘expertise’ in the production of cultural products, this mediation during the production stage affects the consumption, or perception of a product – though how this is measured is questionable. Bringing ‘economy’ into this, I perceive that these cultural intermediations are for both economic purpose, and value-formation. Though, the notion of ‘value’ is complex.

It seems that many arguments coexist in the definition of cultural intermediaries; though this may be due to the numbers of these actors – for me an understanding into exactly what the role of ‘cultural intermediary’ entails would further develop my awareness of the term. Matthews and Smith’s work is particularly useful as they consider theory concerning cultural intermediaries, the creative work of cultural intermediaries and the cultural production produced by these market actors.

The questions I am keen to research are of consumer capitalism. Are cultural intermediaries controversially manipulating ‘culture’ for the economization of the cultural sector, or for enhanced consumer experience? Could the role of a cultural intermediary provoke controversy, making consumer capitalism justifiable? Though Matthews and Smith suggest that the creative work of cultural intermediaries ‘can assist in a critical assessment of the claims made about creative works in contemporary economies.’ (2014: 4) This assessment may be ‘critical’ however, who – or what – is it benefitting?

Further Study

In regard to discussion concerning the interconnections between production and consumption Matthews and Smith extensively reference scholars ‘Featherstone, 1991; du Gay et al, 1997; Mora, 2000; and Soar, 2000.’ (2014, 1) Despite Matthews and Smith further denoting that this discussion has shifted to culture and economy I remain particularly interested in further exploration of the Bourdieusian approach to understanding the connections between both production and consumption.

I feel that further exploration into intermediaries – in the form of organisations – such as arts councils is imperative in understanding how intermediaries affect policymaking. Cultural intermediaries ‘actually implement abstract institutional policies and operationalize intangible cultural values.’ (Matthews and Smith, 2014: 7) Within this text I have explored my understandings and developments of interpreting what a cultural intermediary is. I intend to explore in greater detail how cultural intermediaries undertake, or impact, a decision-making process. Matthews and Smith identify the need to consider cultural intermediaries and ‘the everyday accomplishment of their work via particular material processes, generic devices and subjective dispositions.’ (2014: 9) It is suggestible that cultural intermediaries have an impact on cultural policy, and the consumption of culture – defining this ‘impact’ may entail the need for empirical research.

Bibliography

Bourdieu, P. (1984) [1979] Distinction, a Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge.

Du Gay, P. & Nixon, S. (2002) Who Needs Cultural Intermediaries? Cultural Studies. Vol 16, No 4, pp. 495-500.

Jakob, D., & van Heur, B. (2014). ‘Editorial: Taking matters into third hands: intermediaries and the organization of the creative economy’. Regional Studies. Vol 48, (ahead-of-print), 1-5.

Matthews, J. & Smith, J. (eds) (2014). The Cultural Intermediaries Reader. London: Sage.

Prince, R. (2010). Fleshing out Expertise: The making of creative industries experts in the United Kingdom. Geoforum Vol  41, No 6, pp. 875-884.

Investigating the Scope of Cultural Policy

Locating Policy

Whilst sourcing an example of cultural policy I investigated several institutions. Initially I focussed on UNESCO; prior knowledge of UNESCO’s Creative Economy Report, as mentioned by Bell and Oakley (2014), led me to explore UNESCO in further detail.

Through UNESCO’s website I noted several councils of interest; furthering examining the International Music Council; an institution founded by UNESCO – highlighting the convergence of policy bodies.

I struggled to identify a policy that was specific to my own interests. However this is because I viewed ‘policy’ from a predominantly broad viewpoint – which is not incorrect, the nature of ‘policy’ is vast and abundant.

Narrowing down my search of Cultural Policy I focused on the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). Interestingly I feel this offers policy analysts pre-conceived understandings of the nature of policy provided by the DCMS; this being due to the use of ‘Culture’ in the title of the institution – implying that the institution deals directly with culture.

It is suggestible that there are a range of areas that cultural policy covers; notably it is apparent that in some cases ‘art’ is listed alongside culture, and not as a form of culture. The DCMS states that it promotes ‘our cultural and artistic heritage,’ again with ‘art’ cast in a separate category to ‘culture.’ The definition of culture is often a topic of conversation amongst scholars; with regards to the DCMS one of its objectives is to maintain the ‘media, creative, tourism and telecom industries.’ Creative Industries is a notion that is seen as an ‘economic driver’ for the growth of the cultural sectors – often depicted as the ‘cultural industries, creative industries or creative economy.’ (Bell and Oakley, 2014: 5) My point here is that the DCMS has clearly distinguished a difference between ‘culture’ and the ‘arts’ when others may resist to do so.

I filtered through the policies issued by the DCMS – available on the Government UK’s website – primarily focussing on one policy: Supporting Vibrant and Sustainable Arts and Culture. This being one of the first policies I have examined – I’m hesitant to use the word ‘analyse’ – I have selected factors of the policy which I find particularly interesting.

DCMS: Supporting Vibrant and Sustainable Arts and Culture

First published in February 2013, the ‘Supporting Vibrant and Sustainable Arts and Culture Policy’ was implemented by the:

  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Department for Education
  • The RT Hon Sajid Javid MP
  • Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries.

The number of policymakers is of interest to me as it portrays the amount of individuals, and/or bodies that are involved in implementing and creating a singular policy. I feel this offers an area that could be interesting to study further, applying notions such as Belfiore’s arguments of Cultural Policy in Britain. Belfiore offers the argument that mendacity has ‘become orthodox in much of contemporary public and policy discourse around the social impacts of the arts,’ drawing upon Smith’s comments of his time as Culture Secretary (2009 :348). Individuals and/or professional bodies may have a huge impact in the direction of policy making. As this particular policy has been implemented from several governmental departments I feel it offers an interesting route for research into the effects of policymakers on policy outcome.

Policy Content

The contents of the policy are distinguished by ‘Issue, Actions and Background.’ Drawing upon the ‘issue’ section one statement is distinctive; ‘arts and culture strengthen communities, bringing people together and removing social barriers,’ the concept of culture as a bridge to community as an act that may offer a better way of life and unity for marginalised groups. This strongly relates to Matthew Arnold’s notion of the social idea of culture, being ‘equality’ (1869: 7). This traditional view of culture and betterment appears to be present within the policy – I highlight the policy’s statement that:

‘involving young people in the arts increases their academic performance, encourages creativity, and supports talent early on.’

Arnold contested, strongly, that education is essential to social improvement, and that culture brings ‘sweetness and light.’ The Supporting Vibrant and Sustainable Arts and Culture Policy appears to concur with this belief, demonstrating the ideas of culture that are evident within the policy.

In addition to the issue, actions are outlined which are imperative in reaching the policy’s objectives:

Upon first-glance it is apparent that ‘culture’ is at the centre of this policy, alongside arts. The policy utilises various programmes and funding providers; analysts are able to look in further detail at the policy. Each supporting detail, such as Arts and Cultural Education for Young People offers the policy analysts further areas to explore; in this case – Darren Henley’s 2011 review of ‘Cultural Education in England,’ an independent report for the DCMS.

Referring back to the aforementioned ‘actions’ for the policy, the activities and relationships with the cultural industries present are centred, I would argue, around personal and public growth. This is apparent in the phrases used such as ‘secure future,’ ‘good-quality cultural activities,’ ‘promoting British art around the world’ and so forth.

Bibliography:

Arnold, M. (1869). Culture and Anarchy. in: Storey, J. (2007). Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: a Reader. London: Pearson.

Belfiore, E. (2009). On Bullshit in Cultural Policy Practice and Research: Notes From the British Case. International Journal of Cultural Policy. Vol 15, No 3, pp. 343-359.

Bell, D. and Oakley, K. (2014). Cultural Policy. Oxon: Routledge.

Department for Culture, Media & Sport. About Us. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-culture-media-sport/about [accessed: 13/10/2014].

Gov.uk. Policy: Supporting Vibrant and Sustainable Arts and Culture. https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/supporting-vibrant-and-sustainable-arts-and-culture [accessed: 13/10/2014].

Henley, D. (2011). Cultural Education in England. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/260726/Cultural_Education_report.pdf [accessed: 14/10/2014].

UNESCO. Protecting Our Heritage and Fostering Creativity. http://en.unesco.org/themes/protecting-our-heritage-and-fostering-creativity [accessed: 12/10/2014].

International Music Council. Home. http://www.imc-cim.org/ [accessed: 12/10/2014].

Understanding and Locating Policy

A Response to Key Texts:

Gordon, I., Lewis, J., & Young, K. Perspectives on policy analysis. in: Hill, M (ed.) (1993/1997). The Policy Process: A Reader (2ndEdition). London et al: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Jenkins, B. Policy analysis: Models and approaches.: Hill, M (ed.) (1993/1997). The Policy Process: A Reader (2ndEdition). London et al: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf.

O’Brien, D., & Miles, S. (2010). Cultural Policy as Rhetoric and Reality: a Comparative Analysis of Policy Making in the Peripheral North of England. Cultural Trends. Vol 19, No 1-2, pp. 3-13.

Ideas of Policy Analysis

McGuigan utilises key terms which are often echoed in understanding the analyst’s approach to interpreting cultural policy. Cultural Policy raises consciousness of entitlement in concern of ‘access to the arts, multiculturalism and recognition of difference.’ (2004: 33). Cultural Policy, in McGuigan’s view is, ‘quite closely associated with arts policy’ (2004: 34) – in which aesthetics, symbolic value and other attributes are determined. Noting the date of McGuigan’s argument – 2004 – time may have affected the understanding of policies, and the arguments emergent from the term ‘cultural policy.’ Drawing upon McGuigan’s contestations then if cultural policy concerns the arts, why is arts policy a separate entity?

Policy analysis may help distinguish types of policy, and its implications. Yet, it is apparent that even the concept of policy analysis may be complex. Gordon et al (first published 1977) divided the rationale of policy analysis into two categories; analysis for policy and analysis of policy. Detailing further divisions of each category highlights a multitude of arguments, observations and processes of policy analysis. Taking a similar, yet more erudite stance – building upon the foundations of other scholarly research – Jenkins discusses models and approaches that help ‘cope’ with policy analysis.

A prominent argument, presented by Jenkins is the limitations of case studies, and how the implementation of comparative research potentially overcomes these limitations. Case studies may be static and confine investigations, due to an explicit focus, yet Jenkins questions the convergence of both case studies and comparative research in policy analysis. To synthesise both methods may offer new possibilities, yet in the immediate case ‘it would seem too early to jettison case-study material and the concepts that arise from it simply in exchange for quantitative sophistication.’ (1993: 34).

Examples of policy analysis, or research into policy, prove useful for me, as it allows me to gain a perspective that is supported from alternate viewpoints. O’Brien and Miles, interestingly utilising case studies and comparative research, construct ‘a place-specific understanding of the application of cultural policy’ to ‘assess the extent to which such policy contributes to the definitions of space and place.’ (2010: 5). Much like the perplexity of policy types, there are further aspects that influence and affect policy research. Space and place being a key attribute to this argument. I agree that space and place is a factor that largely affects policy analysis, yet I need to explore this topic further to ensure I am not being too quick at concurring with this debate.

Considerations for Policy Analysis

Garcia and Scullion state that Cultural Policy Research ‘exists in many contexts,’ and that it ‘adopts a wide repertoire of research methodologies.’ (2005: 113) A lack of cohesion within the field of policy analysis and research may be present; I question if the significance of the research in the opinion of the policymakers affects the complexity of giving a straightforward methodological definition of policy analysis. To elaborate, it is apparent that there are – much like defining culture – many discussions and directions for policy analysis.

Jenkins focuses on policy from a systemic position, arguing that ‘public policy is best understood by considering the operation of a political system in its environment and by examining how such a system maintains itself and changes over time.’ (1993: 34). Looking into political aspects, and the environment in which a policy is formulated may offer the analyst a more valuable analysis – ‘environment’ is not ‘structureless’ as argued by Jenkins.

O’Brien and Miles imply both the environment and industrialization impact culture and policy:

‘The emergence of culture on the policy agenda is inseparable from the broader processes of the de-industrialization of Great Britain and the creation of an economic context in which regional particularity had to be transferred from production to consumption’. (2010: 11)

It may be that different factors affect analysis, and that these factors need to be taken into consideration. The main argument I feel is notably important is consideration of variables in analysis.

Further Points to Consider

The term ‘neoliberal’ has been used several times across the aforementioned texts; neoliberalism, according to McGuigan, is a ‘global phenomenon’ justifying this by suggesting that it is ‘pervasive across an extensive range of practices and policies.’ (2010: 117) Despite the term appearing in multiple texts my understanding of neoliberalism is poor. In order to explore the notion in greater depth; I have briefly studied Neoliberalism, Urban Regeneration and Cultural Policy, in McGuigans 2010 book ‘Cultural Analysis.’

Further adding to my perplexed understanding McGuigan identifies neoliberalism as an ‘ideological formation.’ (2010: 120). I intend to explore further into texts concerning neoliberalism and Cultural Policy; with the objective of furthering my understanding and my ability to apply the notion to my own theoretical concepts.

Bibliography

Garcia, B. & Scullion, A. (2005). What is Cultural Policy Research? International Journal of Cultural Policy. Vol 11, No 2, pp. 113-127.

Gordon, I., Lewis, J., & Young, K. Perspectives on policy analysis. in: Hill, M (ed.) (1993/1997). The Policy Process: A Reader (2ndEdition). London et al: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Jenkins, B. Policy analysis: Models and approaches.: Hill, M (ed.) (1993/1997). The Policy Process: A Reader (2ndEdition). London et al: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf.

McGuigan, J. (2004). Rethinking Cultural Policy Issues in Cultural and Media Studies. Berkshire: Open University Press.

McGuigan, J. (2010). Cultural Analysis. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

O’Brien, D., & Miles, S. (2010). Cultural Policy as Rhetoric and Reality: a Comparative Analysis of Policy Making in the Peripheral North of England. Cultural Trends. Vol 19, No 1-2, pp. 3-13.

A Response to Key Texts:

Bell, D. and Oakley, K. (2014). Cultural Policy. Oxon: Routledge.

O’Brien, D. (2014). Cultural Policy: Management, Value and Modernity in the Creative Industries. Oxon: Routledge

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In response to the texts from Bell and Oakley, and O’Brien I have noted key arguments and applied them to my own interest of study. I determine Bell and Oakley’s focus to argue that cultural policy is an ethical and political project. Bell and Oakley discuss changes in terminology ‘from cultural to creative industries.’ (2014: 30) This is of importance to me as I feel both texts highlight the implications of definitional debates for ‘culture,’ and how this affects cultural policy. The change from ‘cultural to creative’ is not the only shift, or discussion of cultural policy-related terminology.

Within this response I have selected key themes and concepts which I have found particularly interesting; and key to my understanding of cultural policy. Both texts highlight the implications of definitional debates for ‘culture,’ and how this affects cultural policy.

Cultural Policy

Cultural Policy, as argued by O’Brien (2014) is an area of study that has been neglected, suggestively due to its tendency for categorisation within a range of academic disciplines; primarily political science, cultural studies and sociology. Contestations, and attempts to define ‘culture’ limit the ‘issue of defining the remit of cultural policy’ as argued by Bell and Oakley (2014: 2). My understanding of cultural policy – and notions concerning cultural policy – as influenced by O’Brien (2014) and Bell and Oakley (2014) is that there is a dominant belief that culture is a driver of economic growth.

The term ‘economic’ appears often – and at times, controversially – in discourse concerning cultural policy as well as the creative industries. Discussions of the polysemic notions of the term ‘value’ lead to value denoting economic purpose.’ Cultural policy is an example of the ‘development of a complex relationship between the differing ideas of value and the problem of doing public policy in modernity.’ (O’Brien, 2014: 7) From O’Brien’s text I perceive the word ‘value’ to describe an idea about economics, an idea about personal expression and an idea about morality.

‘Economic value – how much a product or service is worth relative to other things as indicated by its price.’ (O’Brien, 2014: 3) I acknowledge that there are various complexities with regards to cultural policy, as discussed in both key texts. It is apparent that this complexity affects policy in a manner of ways, making judgements in cultural policy is difficult, even more so in terms of funding decisions.

Considering aesthetics, states and markets O’Brien implies that culture resists managerial inclination; drawing upon Bauman’s proposition that the purpose of management is regulation and control. A fundamental notion present in this discussion is that ‘Culture cannot live in peace with management,’ (Bauman, 2004: 65) this antagonistic relationship is further represented in Bauman’s depiction of modernity. The concept of ‘liquid modernity’ is important for cultural policy as culture during modernity – solid modernity – was easily controlled, however culture in the context of liquid modernity (postmodernism) proves more difficult to regulate, or to ‘manage.’ Therefore I suggest that cultural policy is beneficial in managing, and controlling culture; a belief contradicted by the ideology of ‘art for art’s sake’ that is discussed by various scholars, and mentioned within O’Brien’s Cultural Policy: Management, Value and Modernity in the Creative Industries.

‘Aesthetics’ is also complex when it is used as a key discourse in culture; my perception of aesthetics in relation to cultural policy correlates with Throsby’s idea of ‘Expressive Value,’ mentioned by Bell and Oakley. Values that are spiritual, social, historical, authentic, symbolic and aesthetic are seen as ‘expressive,’ this does not define aesthetic; however it lessens the possible meanings, by noting different values which affect industries in and beyond the creative and cultural.

Bell and Oakley imply that cultural policy is less about party-politics and more focused on broad ideologies; though, they do not dismiss the interaction and importance of party-politics in cultural policy. Drawing up a case study from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – Taking Part – Bell and Oakley express the importance of cultural activities for cultural policy. ‘If public policy assumes that culture is important then it has to be concerned about grave inequalities in access,’ (2014: 37) the participation and legitimacy of the public’s interaction with culture is beneficial information for government spending cuts. Applying Foucault’s idea of ‘governmentality’ I question if cultural policy, or public policy, is crafting policies, or definitions of culture that intend to produce an idealistic cultural consumer.

‘The rationales which drive cultural policy vary according to time, place and political context.’ (Bell and Oakley, 2014: 5). I agree with this statement; as Bell and Oakley offer supporting conclusions, from a study conducted by the European Commission, ‘Cultural Access and Participation’ – this report presents findings from 27 EU member states, therefore a different ‘place’ and ‘political context.’  I feel I need to research further into existing policies, to further my understanding, and to support my own arguments.

Areas for Further Independent Research

Observation of the citations used within each key text has led to an interest in further research. Joyce’s ‘Liberal City’ is of interest to me; with regards to freedom and liberalism. When freedom is ‘used in relation to liberalism it usually denotes the freedom to be left alone in order to do what one wants to do,’ (Joyce, 2003: 1) the notion of ‘liberal communities’ and the term ‘urban’ is also used by Joyce, I wish to explore this further and apply it to potential research.

I shall also delve further into the work of Russell Keat; Keat engages with questions relating to political and ethical aspects of methods employed for public policy, and how these relate to the ‘narratives within the cultural sector.’ (O’Brien, 2014: 13). Keat’s viewpoint is imperative to cultural policy, as argued by O’Brien, Keat’s vision of the role of cultural institutions portrays that ‘there are important aspects of cultural goods that need some non-market provision.’ (2014: 14).

Bibliography:

Bauman, Z. (2004). Culture and Management. Parallax. Vol 10, No 2, pp. 63-72.

Bell, D. and Oakley, K. (2014). Cultural Policy. Oxon: Routledge.

DCMS. (2012). Taking Part 2012/13 Quarter 1 Statistical Release. London: DCMS.

Foucault, M. (2000). Governmentality. in: Faubion, J.D. (ed) The Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984. New York: New Press.

Joyce, P. (2003). The Rule of Freedom: Liberalism and the Modern City. London: Verso.

Keat, R. (1999). Market Boundaries and the Commodification of Culture. in: Ray, L. and Sayer, A. (eds.) Culture and Economy After the Cultural Turn. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

O’Brien, D. (2014). Cultural Policy: Management, Value and Modernity in the Creative Industries. Oxon: Routledge.

Throsby, D. (2010). The Economics of Cultural Policy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.