Details on article

Id 152
Author Jancovich, L.,
Title Great art for everyone? Engagement and participation policy in the arts

Jancovich, L. (2011). Great art for everyone? Engagement and participation policy in the arts. Cultural Trends, 20:3-4, 271-279, DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2011.589708

Keywords Participation; Engagement; Participatory budgeting; Cultural democracy; Artistic practice; Cultural policy
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Abstract New Labour began its administration with a commitment to bring democracy to culture. However, a decade later the Arts Council England (ACE)'s mission statement of “Great art for everyone” suggested a continued emphasis on access to mainstream culture rather than on cultural democracy. The argument in this paper is that Labour's vision has resulted in little change to the basis upon which arts institutions receive regular funding, or the social composition of those who participate in the arts in Britain today – who remain predominantly white and middle class. Public consultation through The arts debate provides evidence that the arts are still perceived as elitist, and policy too insular and self-reflective. The report clearly identified the public's desire for not only greater transparency in decision-making processes but also involvement in the decisions themselves, in order to democratise the arts.

Metodology This paper draws on research investigating the extent to which participatory decision-making schemes affect cultural democracy and the subsequent impact on artistic policy and practice. In addition to documentary analysis, this study involved interviews with staff at arts organisations, policymakers from Arts Council England and local authorities, and members of the public who had taken part in participatory decision-making projects in the arts.

Findings The research focused on two projects.The first is Castleford Project, a collaboration between the local authority, local people and Channel 4. The plan was to regenerate the Castleford area by commissioning public art through a participatory mechanism. The author sets out that despite the fact that the local authority in Castleford provided the public with a constrained set of choices in the process, overall the project was a success (possibly due to strong pre-existing civic and social links in the town). The paper also looked at the way in which Contact (a multi-artform venue in Manchester) used a participatory model to shape their artistic programme. They brought young people’s input to bear on the way in which productions were put together. Staff at Contact and local young people involved with Contact were interviewed as part of the research. The author found that those already engaged in the arts were most likely to be involved with participatory programmes at Contact, so it didn't necessarily reach out to new audiences.
Open Access NO
DOI DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2011.589708
Search Database Taylor & Francis
Technique Interview; Document analysis
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