Cities of Culture is an AHRC-funded research network that brings together academics, researchers, consultants and policy makers to better understand the UK Cities of Culture and European Capitals of Culture initiatives
The Research Network focuses on the theme of ‘Turning Evaluation into Policy’ and functions as a forum and discursive space to exchange comparative knowledge on evaluation and research. It seeks to explore what are the best ways to connect different evaluation studies and to influence policy development on Cities of Culture.
The network reaches across geographical, professional and disciplinary boundaries and barriers: academics, postgraduate researchers, and national, international and local policy makers, all seeking to better understand the Cities or Capitals of Culture (CoC) initiatives.
It includes all (European) Capitals, (UK) Cities and (London) Boroughs of Culture projects delivered by cities within the UK. The network connects 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.
The main objectives of the project are:
To create a new interdisciplinary research network that brings together key academics, early career researchers and policy makers connected with CoCs and ECoCs;
To bring together expertise and evidence about different cities at different periods of time in order to achieve a better collective understanding of the medium and long-term effects of CoCs;
To explore conditions, mechanisms and procedures which would be required to turn findings from the evaluation of CoCs into effective policy development.
The Project aims to Understand & Enhance the UK City of Culture Programme
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 and economic development strategies. There are many isolated evaluation studies about the impacts of City of Culture programmes. However, they have tended not to explore medium and long-term effects on a shared UK-wide basis, nor are they systematically used for policy development. These are central issues that this project and research network aim to explore.
The research network creates an interdisciplinary space where academics, postgraduate researchers and policy makers can exchange comparative knowledge, challenges and ideas relating to the value and policy direction of the CoC initiatives. While pursuing a better collective understanding of the CoC initiatives, the network members will explore the conditions and procedures required to create productive links between evaluation and new policy development.
“The British Council’s work focusses on sharing the good practices developed in the UK with other partners around the world, to bring mutual benefit on both sides. Our UK strategy also articulates our ongoing work to reflect all parts of the UK. This network offers us a chance to engage deeply with the excellent research practice taking place in the network and to identify routes to influence and policy-change which will bring about positive change in the countries and cities where we work.”
Kathy McArdle Director England & Cities, British Council
The spread of City of Culture events across the world demands that we explore how they are developing, what they now encompass and contribute, and how they might evolve in the future. Like all community-centred events, they are also faced with challenges by the global pandemic. We therefore need to continue the conversations about Cities of Culture and their possible futures. This network is ideally placed to lead this debate.”
David Atkinson Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography, University of Hull.
Meet the core team behind the project
Prof Franco Bianchini Visiting Professor at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki, and Associate Director of the Centre for Cultural Value, UK. Together with Jonothan Needlands, he is the initiator of the Cities of Culture Research Network.
Prof Jonothan Neelands National Teaching Fellow, Professor of Creative Education at the Warwick Business School (WBS) and Chair of Drama and Theatre Education at the University of Warwick. He is Academic Lead for Research and Evaluation Coventry City of Culture Trust. He is one of the co-PIs of the Cities of Culture Research Network at the University of Warwick.
Prof Glenn Burgess Early Modern History at the University of Hull, and was the University’s strategic lead for its Principal Partnership with Hull UK City of Culture 2017. He is one of the co-PIs of the Cities of Culture Research Network at the University of Hull.
Dr Beatriz Garcia Director of Impacts 18 – European Capital of Culture Research Programme and senior Research Fellow in Communication Studies at the University of Liverpool. Dr Garcia has been at the forefront of research on the rhetoric and impact of culture-led city regeneration interventions since 1999. She is a member of the steering group of the Cities of Culture Research Network.
Dr Louise Ejgod Hansen Associate Professor at the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University. She is research manager at the Centre for Cultural Evaluation that carries out analyses and evaluations in collaboration with external partners. She is a member of the steering group of the Cities of Culture Research Network.
Prof Neil Forbes Associate Dean for Research, Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Professor of International History at the University of Coventry. He is one of the organizers of the Cities of Culture Research Network at Coventry University.
Prof Nick Henry Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Business in Society, at Coventry University. He is Coventry University lead on the monitoring and evaluation of Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021. Previously he was Consulting Director, ICFGHK. He is one of the organisers of the Cities of Culture Research Network at Coventry University.
Prof David Atkinson Associate Dean for Research, Faculty of Science and Engineering and Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography, Department of Geography, Geology and Environment. He is one of the co-PIs of the Cities of Culture Research Network at the University of Hull.