Improving Research and International Cooperation for Cultural Policy
Tony Bennett and Colin Mercer
1.0 Key issues and questions
Any discussion of the role that research might play in guiding the direction of cultural policies needs to start from a realistic assessment of the role which cultural policy research presently does play in relation to the political, bureaucratic and commercial processes through which policies concerning the management of cultural resources are actually decided on and put into effect. Clearly, answers to these questions will vary from one national context to another. As a general rule, however, research plays a less-developed role in cultural policy formation than is true of other areas of policy: economic and social policy, for example. Why is this so? What are the factors which, singly and in combination, work to limit the role that research plays in developing, monitoring and assessing cultural policies? These are questions that need to be answered clearly in order to identify the measures that are called for to enable research to play a more effective and strategic role in cultural policy development.
1.1 Cultural policy does not yet exist as a clearly-defined area of study with agreed research paradigms and methodologies. It rather comprises a loose articulation of work emerging from different disciplinary origins from arts management, communication studies, urban studies, cultural studies, cultural economics and is not yet able to readily identify how its different parts add up to a cohesive whole. This weakens its credibility and ability to compete effectively with other research inputs to public policy processes at both the national and international levels.
1.2 This lack of clarity at the conceptual level is matched by a parallel lack of clarity at the policy level. Whereas economic and social policies occupy a clear place in the programs of governments, the place of cultural policy is often not so clearly defined. Indeed, it typically has a dispersed existence scattered across a range of portfolios (arts, communications, tourism) with the consequence that research is this area is often equally dispersed and poorly coordinated.
1.3 Research is often accorded a low priority within the budget allocations of publicly-funded policy agencies and cultural institutions. This is especially true in those contexts where provision for research expenditure has to be made at the expense of support for cultural programs and artistic activities. Where this is so, research is usually the loser in view of the pressures which incline such agencies and institutions to be more responsive to the immediate needs of their constituencies and clients at the expense of the research needed for long-term planning and development.
1.4 The sensitivity of many questions of cultural policy around questions of censorship, for example means that key policy decisions are often made on political grounds in ways which minimise the value of research findings. It is also often the case that crucial cultural policy issues the distribution of media ownership, for example are strongly affected by the lobbying power of influential constituencies. Where this is so, the credence that is accorded research is more honorific than real; indeed, ways have often to be found of discounting research findings where political pressures dictate the need for policy directions that have little or no research support.
1.5 The role played by privately-commissioned research in guiding decision making within the commercial cultural sector has significant consequences for the nature of the cultural goods and services produced by that sector, as well as for the ways in which those goods and services are distributed. Owing to its private and commercial nature, however, very little of this research is made available in ways that would allow it to contribute to wider policy debate or public policy development.
1.6 The level of local government, which often plays a crucial role in the delivery of cultural services at a community level, has little experience of the value of research and frequently makes no budgetary provisions for this purpose.
1.7 The organisations of civil society NGOs, voluntary associations, community organisations that are active in the field of cultural provision, or represent sections of the community that are affected by public cultural policy outcomes, lack the resources needed to commission or facilitate the development of research tailored to their particular needs.
1.8 The connections between the research resources allocated to or through universities and the research needs of cultural organisations and institutions, as well as those of the government cultural policy sector, are often weak. This sometimes reflects a lack of interest in questions of public policy on the part of intellectuals with an arts or humanities training. This is often matched by a lack of understanding of the value of independent research on the part of cultural administrators and workers. As a result, a good deal of the research that is conducted in such contexts is undertaken by untrained researchers with partisan interests with negative consequences for both the quality and credibility of the research outcomes.
1.9 Although cultural flows are increasingly international in character, the major sources of cultural policy research funding are typical national in their organisation and focus. This means that the development of international research efforts addressing trans-national or comparative aspects of cultural policy faces formidable difficulties. The lack of fit between the statistical frameworks that are used for the collection of national cultural statistics makes for similar difficulties.
1.10 The significant inequalities in the international distribution of research capabilities of trained researchers, research infrastructure, and of research funds make for enormous difficulties in applying research to assist the role that cultural development programs can play in less developed countries.
It is clear from these considerations that any approach to improving research for cultural policy, especially when connected to a concern to foster greater international cooperation for cultural policy, will need to concern itself with factors of this kind as well as with identifying the major substantive areas of research where more effort is needed. It will, that is to say, need to concern itself as much with questions of research relations as with questions of research content. We shall, accordingly, address both types of issue. First, though, we offer a brief review of what we understand the task of recasting cultural policies to involve and, within that, a statement of what we believe should be the four main organisational foci of cultural policy research.
2.0 Policy Domains - recasting cultural policies
While we recognise that cultural factors have a role to play in all spheres of policy formation, we limit our definition of cultural policy to those policies which have a bearing on the conduct of those institutions and organisations which make up the cultural sector. This includes all those organisations, whether public or private, which are involved in the production and distribution of cultural goods and services and the management of cultural resources. This is, on the one hand, a narrowing definition in that it identifies a distinctive and specific policy domain rather than stretching the definition of cultural policy elastically to encompass all those policy areas (environmental and economic, for example) in which cultural meanings and values are in play. However, it is also, on the other hand, an expansive definition in bringing together, as parts of the same policy field, areas of cultural activity which, in earlier definitional frameworks, were placed in separate policy compartments. It thus encompasses both publicly-funded (libraries, art galleries, museums, parks, public-service broadcasting) and private (the commercial media, publishing) cultural organisations as being equally important from a public policy point of view and as needing to be understood in the light of their interactions with one another. It also includes both high and popular culture regarding these as equally important while recognising, however, that the role accorded such distinctions within official hierarchies of the arts often plays a significant role in actual cultural policy processes and outcomes.
What, then, are the kinds of policies that need to be taken into account in research concerned with the organisation and activities of the cultural sector? We suggest these can usefully be divided into four categories:
2.1 First, there are the policies of governments whether at the national or local levels which impact on the composition and operations of the cultural sector. These include decisions regarding the allocation of resources to publicly-funded cultural institutions and organisations; the forms of governance that shall be applied to such institutions and organisations; and the ground-rules that shall govern their operations access and equity objectives, rules permitting or prohibiting corporate sponsorship, etc. However, they also include those aspects of government policy which regulate the activities of commercial cultural organisations. These now typically include the regulation of media ownership, establishing the conditions for telecommunications operators, the provision of a legal framework (copyright) for cultural industry development as well as the specification of legal obligations for cultural producers (classification and censorship), cultural industry subsidies or tariff protection measures, etc. We include in this level of policy the international obligations governments are obliged to take into account in their domestic policy settings in view of the international agreements they are signatories to.
2.2 Cultural policy research needs also to concern itself with the policies that cultural institutions develop in order to take account of both the commercial and the public policy environments within which they operate. This is crucial if valid assessments are to be formed of the influence that government policies exert on actual cultural outcomes since these depend on the role that institutional policies play in translating the requirements of broader policy environments into the delivery of cultural goods and services. How do remote communities become involved in communications development initiatives, and with what consequences? How do access objectives get translated into the operating routines of art galleries, museums and heritage sites? How do particular cultural industries respond to government measures aimed at stimulating their economic development? What effect do tax incentives have on private investment in the arts? The need for an understanding of these interfaces between the government and institutional levels of policy is essential for informed debate concerning the relative merits of different forms of government policy.
2.3 Cultural policy options and outcomes are also influenced by the activities of the organisations and associations comprising the realm of civil society. These might be well-organised NGOs pursuing developed advocacy programs for particular social groups or cultural producers; they might be parents and citizens associations speaking into the policy process from the point of view of a concern with moral standards; they might be fan clubs lobbying for better forms of support for particular forms of cultural activity; they might be associations acting to maintain and promote minority ethnic cultures or campaigning for equal rights for women; they might be political parties; they might be voluntary associations nucleated around some particular cultural interest; they might be religious groups. Whichever the case, it is through the activities of such organisations and associations that the processes of public policy formation are subjected to demands and pressures arising out of the organisation of social life with all of its urgencies and contradictions. These are real actors in the world of policy, acting on the policy process in enunciating the demands of particular constituencies as well as serving as important routes through which cultural policies connect back into social life. However, they are rarely accorded the same research attention as the more formalised and more easily recognisable levels of policy comprised by the activities of government and of the public and private institutions comprising the cultural sector.
2.4 Finally, cultural policy research has to concern itself with policy outcomes in so far as these concern the quality and quantity of the cultural goods, services and involvements they give rise to as well as the manner of their distribution to and across different groups of users and participants. Depending on the circumstances, such users will be conceived in different terms: as consumers, audiences, publics and communities. This variability in conception is as inevitable as it is desirable given the variable, plural and complex ways in which cultural goods and services are produced, marketed and distributed and the equally varied ways in which, whether as individuals or as members of particular groups or communities, people take part in cultural activities. In all cases, however, research is needed that can reveal how different policy environments and measures impact on the actual patterns of the distribution of cultural goods and services as well as exploring the qualitative dimensions of how people experience, interpret and value the cultures in which they participate.
This last point is especially important from the point of view of connections between cultural policy and the concerns of development. There are, of course, many perspectives from which such connections might be approached: culture industry development; community cultural development; the development of cultural and civic rights; the development of cultural diversity; culture and urban development; the development of a cultural identities. While it is important to distinguish between these according to the particular policy context at issue, it is also important to stress that what lies behind all of these pairings of culture and development is a concern with the role that policies can play in the development of the cultures in the sense of ways of life, that is, the values, customs, traditions, meanings of a particular social group or people that comprise a particular society.
How can cultural resources be managed to maintain, augment and develop distinctive ways of life? This is not the only question posed in cultural policies. But it is a question that is implicated in many cultural policy questions no matter how remote and specialist their concerns might seem in other respects. It is, for example, a question that is posed in those contexts where national governments provide distinctive forms of support for cultural industries the film industries in India, France or Australia, for example in view of the importance that is accorded these in maintaining a distinctive national culture or way of life. It is equally a question that is implicated in policies concerned with the promotion of cultural diversity through the maintenance of the distinctive cultures of migrant communities; or in policies concerned to assist Indigenous cultural creators in view of both the economic and cultural importance of their work to the ongoing development of distinctive forms of Indigenous identity and ways of life. Once this is said, however, it becomes clear that cultural policy is inescapably normative. This is not merely to say that normative criteria will inevitably intervene in the difficult choices that have to be made in allocating resources between competing ends. Cultural policies are also normative in the more thoroughgoing sense that support for the development of particular cultures or ways of life can never be entirely even-handed to the extent that it usually also involves a struggle against other cultures or forms of life. Whole cultural policies have thus been based on a defence of national patrimonies against what are seen as the corrosive effects of dominant metropolitan cultures: the French, Indian, Canadian, Italian way of life in opposition to the American. Equally, cultural policies concerned with the promotion of cultural diversity are necessarily at loggerheads with other cultures and ways of life: against those forms of racism and sexism that are entrenched in the ways of life of significant, and often the dominant, sections of the population as well as against religious intolerance.
There can be no absolute justification for such normative preferences any more than there can be any guarantee that liberal and plural understandings of cultural development will prevail. Culture and development, it needs to be recalled, were first put together in the context of western programs of cultural assimilation which, in their most extreme forms, had a genocidal orientation. These are not, then, and cannot be neutral terms: how culture and development are put together and the role that cultural policies play in mediating the connections between them are, ultimately, questions concerning the frameworks within which, at both the national and the international levels, the relationships between different human ways of living will be managed.
What, then, viewed from this perspective, are the most pressing agendas for cultural policy research? We identify, below, eight areas in which active cultural policy research agendas need to be developed. In doing so, we focus our attention on the strategic issues that such research needs to concern itself with.
3.0 Research agendas for cultural policy
3.1 Access to cultural resources
Access to cultural resources provides the means through which both individuals and collectivities are able to enrich and develop themselves. Such access is, however, unequally distributed as a consequence of the manner in which the distribution of cultural goods and services is affected by systemic economic and social inequalities. Research with a clear action orientation that is directed toward new forms of international collaboration needs to concern itself with four different areas of access.
(i) The most crucial area, in terms of global considerations of cultural development, concerns the existing exclusion of many millions of the earths population from the international circulation of cultural goods effected by means of both broadcasting technologies and, increasingly, telecommunications. While access to the means of receiving broadcast messages remains an issue of critical importance in many parts of the world, the phenomenon of convergence has now placed telecommunications policies at the centre of cultural policy concern at both the national and international levels in view of the increasing role they will play in providing access to cultural goods and information. The roll-out policies of telecommunications providers; the obligations governments place on such providers; the marketing and distribution policies of personal computer manufacturers: international and comparative research on these issues is needed if convincing and realistic benchmark standards are to be set that will work against the tendency toward new forms of division operative at the national as well as the global levels between the information rich and the information poor.
(ii) From the perspective of cultural diversity, research into the comparative effectiveness of different forms of cultural production and distribution for the maintenance of cultural identities on the part of diasporic populations has a considerable role to play in helping identify where public support for the maintenance and development of cultural diversity can be most effective. Is the production of a diverse audio-visual culture best accomplished by means of specialist requirements on national public broadcasters? By community broadcasting? By support for international video production and distribution systems? Here, as elsewhere, research that throws light on how different media are being used on the ground by different groups of users or audiences has a crucial role to play in monitoring the consequences of particular policy environments.
(iii) As a more distinctively national problem, the role of positional goods in fostering cultural divisions is an important area for concern, especially in view of the role that publicly-funded cultural institutions often play in establishing and strengthening the market for such goods. The existing evidence regarding the part that art galleries, museums, public musical performances, theatre, opera and other high culture forms play in culturally stratifying populations is clear and consistent on this matter with access to these being invariably dependent on social class, gender, level of education and occupation. The crucial operative variable here is education as it is this and especially tertiary education that provides individuals with the resources needed to make such positional goods intellectually and culturally accessible. An important area for research therefore concerns the interface between education policies and cultural policies: a commitment to increasing access to cultural resources is likely to be ineffective unless accompanied by policies designed to make education increasingly accessible to all sections of society. Given the tendency to make public cultural institutions increasingly self reliant, there is also a need for research into the effects of the new forms of corporate sponsorship and audience development that galleries, museums, theatre, etc., are now increasingly obliged to develop in the face of declining public subsidies. For there is a strong likelihood that this tendency will result in increasing the extent to which high artistic, musical, intellectual and dramatic culture will be viewed as positional goods marketed in ways designed to achieve increasingly intense and exclusive participation on the part of social elites at the expense of any broader and more democratic participation.
(iv) Indigenous peoples have a distinctive need for access to modern technologies of cultural production and distribution as a condition for the ongoing development of Indigenous cultures. A failure to provide for such access would have negative consequences for the maintenance and active development of distinctive Indigenous cultures and identities. There is also clear evidence that Indigenous owned and managed media play a crucial role in achieving a broader social understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures on the part of non-Indigenous sections of the population and thus play a crucial role in the promotion of cross-cultural understanding.
(v) The role of gender in mediating access to cultural resources and participation in cultural activities is also a matter needing systematic and sustained attention. The most important forms of cultural disadvantage here concern the positions of women in those societies where there are marked restrictions placed on womens participation in, and rights of access to, the realm of public culture. This is also a constraint placed on women members of diasporic communities in view of the strong cultural inhibitions that are often place on womens participation in the mainstream culture of the host society in question. There are also important barriers to full cultural participation for women from lower socio-economic groups in more developed societies irrespective or whether or not they are members of minority ethnic communities. However, it would be wrong to believe that women are always disadvantaged in their access to cultural resources. In developed societies, womens participation rates in the institutions of public culture (art galleries, museums, theatre) are often significantly higher than mens reflecting historically entrenched divisions of the cultural field which impede mens participation in art, music and theatre because of their associations with feminised forms of consumption.
The most general requirement for research to assist access to cultural resources concerns the need for more and better cultural statistics capable of measuring the distribution of cultural goods and resources within and across national societies; of setting national and international access benchmarks; and of monitoring the extent to which these are achieved from one period of measurement to the next. UNESCO could play a significant role here in auspicing the mechanisms that would make for valid and meaningful trans-national forms of measurement and target setting.
3.2 Citizenship and public culture
There is an overlap between these policy concerns and those centring on access to cultural resources to the degree that rights of equal access to publicly-provided cultural resources including public broadcasting services are now proclaimed in societies where western concepts of citizenship have acquired influence. There are, however, many societies where the public culture does not rest on democratic conceptions of civic rights but serves rather as the vehicle for elaborating an official culture which celebrates and promotes the values of particular power elites. This is not, however, a total or a clear-cut distinction. In societies where western conceptions of citizenship have a long and deeply-entrenched history, cultural policies often still reflect, at least in part, a concern to magnify and celebrate the power of the state and are thus as much concerned with promoting the values embodied in an official culture as they are with the development of democratic cultural rights. Equally, there are now few societies in which democratic conceptions of citizenship and cultural rights have not resulted in demands for extending such rights of access, participation, and representation to constituencies (women, lower socio-economic groups, minorities) that are at present denied them.
Questions of public culture, however, are not limited to those areas and forms of cultural activity that depend on direct forms of government support or which are directly owned and managed by the state. The role of the commercial components of the cultural sector and especially of commercial broadcasting media, film, publishing and the press in organising a realm in which publicly-shared meanings and values are produced and circulated is just as important, if not more so, from the point of view of their greater numerical reach and influence. Cultural policies, through their role in regulating the activities of the commercial cultural sector, have a crucial role to play in securing the development of democratic cultural rights.
Research related to the promotion of such rights will therefore need to concern itself, inter alia, with the following:
(i) The capacity of publicly-funded cultural institutions to recognise and promote the cultural rights of culturally diverse citizenries will depend on the extent to which they are open to inputs from different constituencies, communities and interest groups. The composition of governing bodies; the mechanisms used to involve community representatives and volunteer workers in policy development, program design and implementation; the measures used to gauge and take account of the views of audiences and publics research into matters of this kind has a valuable role to play in providing objective and comparative assessments of the degrees to which the management structures and operating routines of public cultural institutions take adequate account of their civic role.
(ii) Governments have a role to play in relation to the commercial sector in regulating the ownership of the media and the legal contexts in which they operate to ensure the production and circulation of a diversity of cultural products reflecting the different values and meanings comprising the make up of civil society. Comparative research capable of assessing the consequences of different regulatory regimes in these regards has an important role to play here.
(iii) Ongoing research is needed into the role which NGOs and the institutions of civil society play in promoting the civic involvement of their members as well as in advancing their cultural and broader civic rights. There is also a related need for comparative research concerned with the different ways in which the public cultures of different societies are organised, and of their different roles and functions especially when viewed in terms of their relations to civil society.
3.3 Legal/cultural interfaces
The forms of legal regulation and protection relating to the production and management of cultural resources are relevant to the relations between cultural policy and development from a number of perspectives.
(i) They are of central relevance from an industry perspective in view of the role which legal measures play in securing the conditions in which cultural product can be converted into a commercially exploitable property and so attract the kinds and levels of investment needed to sustain the development of a cultural industry. The provisions made by copyright, patent law, and other intellectual property provisions are of obvious relevance here. It is clear, however, that there are major international contradictions here with the tendency for advanced western societies, in extending the reach of their intellectual property regimes beyond intellectual and cultural creations to include rights in information and natural products, to establish new and powerful barriers to both economic and cultural development on the part of less developed nations.
(ii) It is equally clear that legal measures concerned exclusively with culture industry outcomes can be in conflict with other aspects of the relations between law and culture that need to be taken into account in a holistic conception of the relations between cultural policy and cultural development. The now increasingly widespread influence of the view that cultural policies need to provide for the moral rights of creators is a case in point. It needs to be stressed, however, that there are often broader considerations than the moral rights of individual cultural creators involved in the assertion of such rights. For Indigenous peoples, recognition of the moral rights of cultural creators has a collective aspect in which the development and maintenance of distinctive Indigenous cultures is seen to be connected to the right to exert continuing community forms of control over the ways in which Indigenous cultural product is displayed, contextualised and quoted.
(iii) The present situation of Indigenous peoples also requires the development of better instruments for mediating the relationship between western and traditional systems of intellectual property. This is crucial from the perspectives of both industry development and cultural maintenance. The ways in which western conceptions of intellectual property based on individualised notions of authorship have undermined the basis of Indigenous arts and cultural industries in depressing the prices paid for original works while also justifying illegal copying are now well chronicled. Clearer protocols for regulating the relationships between Indigenous cultural creators and the end-users of Indigenous cultural products are needed to produce a sustainable basis for Indigenous arts and cultural industries. Owing to the centrality of such industries to the economies of many Indigenous communities, a better mediation of the relations between Indigenous creators, western law, the mainstream arts and cultural industries, and the consumers of Indigenous cultural products is necessary for the ongoing maintenance and development of those communities. Similar concerns characterise contemporary debates concerned with the relationships between individualised intellectual property regimes and collective forms of folk culture.
(iv) Complex legal issues are also often implicated in the management of those cultural resources that form a part of a national heritage or patrimony and which, in various ways, are connected to the industry of cultural tourism as heritage sites, for example, or as cultural materials held and displayed in collecting institutions. Vexed questions of cultural ownership are involved here, especially in relation to those forms of cultural property which, in the history of colonialism, crossed national boundaries in the journeys they made sometimes as gifts, sometimes as plunder from colonial peripheries to the metropolitan centres of Europe and North America. The development of appropriate forms of respect for, and tolerance of, cross-cultural differences is also of crucial importance: respecting the rights to secrecy that are important within some cultures, for example, and to non-colonising framings of 'other cultures' in public exhibition contexts. These legal and regulatory issues have an important bearing on the policy coordinates that need to be set at both national and international levels in relation to the development of cultural tourism and the limits it needs to respect.
(v) The role of the law in determining how cultural materials are classified and of the consequence which the manner of their classification has for the way in which they can be accessed and by whom (from censorship to various forms of restricted access) will prove increasingly important in the measures different countries adopt to regulate their relationships to the new global information economy.
To the extent that all of the issues identified above concern the interfaces between legal practice, economic activity and cultural behaviour, the research that is required to pursue them will need to be broadly interdisciplinary in its orientation.
3.4 Culture and community development
At various points over the past century, communities of various kinds have been identified as having cultures which need to be developed through the provision of various forms of government support. These forms of support have usually been palliative in their conception, seeking to compensate for the effects of other forces working to undermine the viability of the community in question and so threatening its culture with destruction. This was the motivation behind the folk culture movement of the late nineteenth century in its concern to sustain the culture of rural communities against the encroaching effects of industrialism and urbanism. Similar orientations characterised the community art programs of the New Deal and the later ecomuseum movement. And they survive in many of the contemporary policy forms in which community, culture and development are brought together: whether directed at particular ethnic communities, Indigenous communities, rural communities, working class communities, etc., they often have a compensatory logic built into them to the degree that their raison dêtre is to mitigate the effects of the historical forces which threaten to undermine the continuing viability of the ways of life of the communities in question.
Such programs also often exhibit a paradoxical form in that, while they are usually government initiated, relying on government funds and government personnel, they often espouse an emancipatory rhetoric in which community is referred to as a spontaneous well-spring of autochthonous cultural creativity opposed to the state or government. This invocation of community in emancipatory and oppositional form can be seriously misleading, especially in those circumstances where it is only through the activities of government through the measures it initiates to organise community consultative fora, to provide facilities that can be the focal points for community organisation and identity, to provide the media that can facilitate community exchange, or the personnel it provides to assist in running community projects that the diverse social groups that are brought together in such programs are able to envisage themselves as communities and act accordingly. It is, then, important that policies concerned to promote the use of culture as a means of developing communities whether economically in providing the infrastructures to support particular arts and culture industries, or culturally in fostering the development and maintenance of distinctive cultural traditions and identities should not succumb to the temptation of constructing community as the outside of government and in opposition to it. To the contrary, the central policy issue for particular communities always concerns the kinds of government involvement that will best assist their continued existence and development.
To assist in this, research is needed which, rather than homogenising community development programs as being about community in some general way, will clearly distinguish the objectives of different kinds of community development programs (developing economically sustainable cultural industries; promoting distinctive forms of cultural interactivity and involvement; helping sustain specific cultural identifications), with a view to providing valid means for assessing their comparative effectiveness. Research of this kind would allow more discriminating assessments of the value of particular kinds of community development initiatives than those resting on the assumptions of community participation models within which increasing direct forms of community participation and control is axiomatically the overriding objective from which any policy measure has to be assessed.
We propose four different types of community-cultural development relationships where research of this kind would be helpful:
(i) Communications development programs
The focus here is on the role that the introduction of communications technologies can play in connecting isolated and remote communities to mainstream processes of economic and political development while, at the same time, fostering a greater involvement in, and awareness of, the affairs of the community in question.
(ii) Indigenous media systems
These are of especial interest in view of the role they have played especially in Canada and Australia in facilitating a sense of ongoing cultural involvement and identity on the part of Indigenous communities whose members are spread across vast distances. They have also been important in promoting a sense of greater shared identity and involvement across different Indigenous communities and have played a significant role in the political processes through which national Indigenous cultural and political organisations have been formed.
(iii) Rural community development programs
Here the emphasis often falls on the use of cultural resources as a means of compensating for the decline of active centres of rural social and cultural life as a result of the movement of populations to urban and industrial contexts. The ecomuseum movement has been especially influential in this regard, but often with ambiguous consequences in as much as the use of cultural resources as a means of reforging local communal and cultural identities has also often formed a part of cultural tourism strategies in which the local culture is re-presented for cosmopolitan consumption.
(iv) Urban community development programs
Programs of this kind are typically directed toward overcoming or mitigating the effects of deprivation arising from subordinate class and ethnic positions. They have, in recent decades, been mostly associated with inner-city areas whose economies have collapsed as a consequence of de-industrialisation.
4.0 Improving research relations for cultural policy
We return here to the question, introduced briefly in section 1, concerning the relationships that need to be developed between different research agencies and contexts in order to maximise the value of research from a cultural development perspective. Such research should, ideally, always include a historical and comparative focus in order to facilitate the dissemination of the lessons to be learned from both past and contemporary experience. It should be action orientated in the sense of being aimed at providing guidance for the activities of the government, commercial or civil organisations with roles to play in the policy field in question. This is a caution that UNESCO needs to be particularly mindful of if it is to facilitate the production of research that can connect with actually existing policy mechanisms at the national and local levels. Cultural policy research also needs to be interdisciplinary with a view to coordinating the inputs of a range of relevant knowledges and research methodologies. Measures are also needed that will strengthen the sense of a theoretical and methodological culture within cultural policy studies in order to enhance its reputation as a discipline. This is vital if, at both the national and international levels, cultural policy research is to be accorded the same weight within the policy process as other disciplines.
Above all, however, cultural policy research needs to be collaborative in ways that will coordinate a number of different inputs to the design and execution of research programs. There is a real danger, if research is driven too much by the immediate needs or interests of particular client groups, that the boundary line between objective research and interested advocacy will be blurred to the disadvantage of both. If policy development is to be well-served by research, then research needs to be conducted with as much scholarly independence and objectivity as possible. At the same time, however, the way in which research skills are used needs to be informed by an accurate and balanced awareness of the aims, needs and interests of different stake holders within the policy domain in question. Typically, however, what research gets done and how it gets done is more likely to reflect the perspectives of a small number of stakeholders, and usually those which are best equipped, organisationally and economically, to define research objectives, commission the work needed to realise those objectives, and to monitor the progress of the research to ensure that it addresses those needs.
At the national level, support for the development of research policies and systems that will facilitate research partnerships capable of bringing together academic researchers, policy agencies, industry organisations, community representatives and NGOs on a more equal basis are therefore worthy of encouragement. The SPIRT (Strategic Partnerships with Industry Research and Training) scheme developed by the Australian Research Council (the principal research funding body for Australian universities) has real merits in this regard in providing a range of mechanisms for supporting policy research jointly developed and managed by teams bringing together university researchers with industry, government and community representatives. No doubt there are similar schemes in other countries, although this is often difficult to ascertain. UNESCO could play a useful role here in providing information about the research-funding systems that are most likely to meet the needs of a research-rich environment for cultural policy development.
At the international level, the crucial need is for collaborative projects that will be developed by similar partnership arrangements involving issues that are of shared concern at the level of particular regional blocs. We believe there is an important role for UNESCO here in stimulating the development of research partnerships at a regional level of a kind that will facilitate the exchange of information and analysis between governments, cultural industries, and the media within the same regional bloc. The Australian Key Centre for Cultural and Media Policy is currently engaged in a project of this nature in promoting the development of a cooperative mechanism to stimulate the development of collaborative research in cultural and communications policies in the Asian region. The support of an international agency could assist greatly in a project of this kind. The same is true of the role UNESCO might play in representing the need for cultural policy research to be rated highly in the forms of research assistance that research-rich countries make available to research-poor countries through their international aid programs. However, UNESCO also has an important role to play in auspicing the kinds of research that will allow for culturally meaningful and realistic indices of cultural development to be developed that can then play a role in target-setting exercises at local, national and supra-national levels. It is to these matters that we now turn.
4.1 Strategic and Integrated Research Agendas
In this and the following sections we identify two broad vectors for international collaboration in cultural policy research - cultural mapping and cultural industry intelligence - which, by virtue of their orientation and inclusive methodological architecture provide a range of incentives and a relatively common lexicon for research while respecting the specificity of different national and regional cultural systems. They respond to the urgent and transformative international context of the rapid development of new digital and interactive communications technologies and provide a linking rationale between the four proposed research agendas of Access to Cultural Resources, Citizenship and Public Culture, Legal/Cultural Interfaces, and Culture and Community Development in ways that will become clearer below. That is to say that these two broad vectors for research provide potential catalysts for international collaborative, strategic and integrated research into quantitative and qualitative indices for cultural development which, in principle, should involve capacities, interests and agencies from the local to the global levels.
Meaningful and realistic indices of cultural development are best developed and applied in contexts where the widest possible range of stakeholders can be involved. This means that we need, in the cultural policy field, to be much more aware of the possibilities of cultural 'technology transfer' between academic, governmental, community, industry, and creative sectors than, in our disciplinary and departmental locales, we are accustomed to be. The charting and opening of such vectors of collaboration is a precondition for the development of strategic and integrated research agendas.
UNESCO has a crucial role as a catalyst, facilitator and resource agency in the development of technology transfer in:
(i) encouraging multidisciplinary, cross-agency and cross-sectoral programs of research; and
(ii) identifying opportunities and issues, globally, regionally and nationally, which are able to effectively leverage such programs of research.
These forms of technology transfer are important for cultural research per se. They become even more important - and will, in some areas, be assisted - by the factors of convergence of creative, technological and communications systems in the so-called 'digital age'.
We are already witnessing, by means of new technologies and new ways of interacting with them, the convergence of:
To be sure, convergence proceeds at an uneven pace and is closely related to the broader patterns of wealth production and distribution in the global economy, but the patterns are becoming clear and the core question to be posed in this context is not whether convergence will affect us but, rather, on what and whose terms?
To the objective reality and logic of convergence UNESCO needs research agendas which are resolutely attentive to:
In response to these strategic and connected issues we can propose two broad and related directions for cultural research and international co-operation in:
(i) the qualitative and quantitative mapping of cultures - their resources, their values and their uses - in collaborative contexts; and,
(ii) the qualitative and quantitative refinement of statistics and indicators, to more effectively and comprehensively re-situate the concept of cultural industry as the principal conceptual framework in which the disposition and management of cultural resources is to be understood.
Thus, in developing new, inclusive and relevant agendas for cultural policy research, we will need to be attentive to the requirements of, firstly, a broadening of the conceptual horizons within which culture, as both conceptual and policy object, is understood, and, secondly, a deepening (in the sense of enrichment) of the tools of research and analysis. In both of these directions - the 'horizontal' movement of broadening the conceptual horizon and the 'vertical' movement of deepening and enriching forms of analysis we will need to be attentive to the wide range of 'cultural systems' in the world and the need for an analytical and conceptual lexicon which is sufficiently common to provide a basis for collaboration but without ambitions to be either 'universal' or infinitely relativist in approach.
The development of such a lexicon for cultural research will provide opportunities for enhancing both research content and research relations in so far as it requires both refinement and extension of methods and the identification of new opportunities for collaboration between agencies and sectors at local, national, regional and global levels.
The first stage on agreeing the ground that needs to be covered is, of course, the mapping of that ground in order to reach agreement on priorities for - and terms of - research in a transformed cultural terrain.
4.2 Cultural Mapping
To agree on a framework and agenda for cultural mapping we need to be attentive to - and informed by - the special contours, features and textures of the ground that we are surveying. This will require agreement, first, on appropriate and sensitive tools and approaches and, second, on the most appropriate agencies to be involved in the mapping process. On both these counts, there is an urgent need for new forms of collaboration and intellectual cross-fertilisation between academic, community, industry and government sectors. The academic sector often has the competencies in the application and refinement of conceptual frameworks and methodologies; the community sector often has the necessary 'local knowledge'; the industry and government sectors, in turn, tend to be concerned with sectoral or departmental objectives but, of course, have powers and resources for policy implementation beyond those of other actors.
Cultural mapping can provide both a catalyst and a vehicle for bringing together these diverse interests. For example, the Indigenous author of the Australian Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation's Issues Paper, Valuing Cultures: Recognising Indigenous Cultures as a Valued Part of Australian Heritage, advocates the approach in the following terms.
Cultural mapping involves the identification and recording of an area's indigenous cultural resources for the purposes of social, economic and cultural development. Through cultural mapping, communities and their constituent interest groups can record their cultural practices and resources, as well as other intangibles such as their sense of place and social value. Subjective experiences, varied social values and multiple readings and interpretations can be accommodated in cultural maps, as can more utilitarian 'cultural inventories'. The identified values of place and culture can provide the foundation for cultural tourism planning and eco-tourism strategies, thematic architectural planning and cultural industries development. (Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, 1994: 19-20).
This approach clearly provides a fruitful context for the convergence of academic research skills, local knowledge, industry and government interests, and a useful example of the sort of multidisciplinary and cross sectoral collaboration in research which is going to be so important for both enhancing traditional cultural resources and values and developing them in the context of the new 'copyright industries'.
New information and communications technologies such as, for example, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software which allow the recording of many 'layers' of information about a place will be invaluable tools in this context. GIS is used by all levels of government, by academic geographers and planners and by commercial agencies and it is not difficult to see how it may be applied in the more qualitative context of cultural mapping and planning with interactive and online potential.
The culturally sensitive development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software and other new technologies for 'cultural mapping' provides one catalyst for collaboration which UNESCO should pursue and encourage, especially with agencies operating at local levels. This responds to an agenda which has been identified by Manuel Castells in the context of the development of powerful new global information flows:
...local societies...must preserve their identities, and build upon their historical roots, regardless of their economic and functional dependence on the space of flows. The symbolic marking of places, the preservation of symbols of recognition, the expression of collective memory in actual practices of communication, are fundamental means by which places may continue to exist as such...(Castells, 1991: 350-351)
Castells goes on to warn, however, that this should not mean a recourse to 'tribalism and fundamentalism'. A full recognition of the importance and role of government at the local level is needed which, rather than being superseded by the global information economy, becomes, in fact, more important with an increased need, in the face of anonymous and 'placeless' global economic and political interests, '...to establish their own networks of information, decision making, and strategic alliances..' (352-3).
It is precisely in this context that the new information technologies acquire a strategic significance at the local level: 'Citizens' data banks, interactive communications systems, community-based multimedia centres, are powerful tools to enhance citizen participation on the basis of grassroots organisations and local governments' political will.' (353)
More than a methodology for the sake of it, cultural mapping seen in these terms responds to urgent new and integrally connected issues in the global cultural and communications economy and requires us to broaden our purview of the place of local cultural resources in that context, both recognising and enhancing the relations between the 'local' and the 'global'.
In our research, we will need to be more attentive to the complex uses and negotiations of cultural resources - artefacts, ideas, images, activities, places, institutions - which characterise the cultural field. This will require much greater collaboration between academic, community, industry and government sectors to the mutual benefit of each, and there is some hard but useful work of 'translation' to be done between these sectors - a task in relation to which UNESCO is uniquely and strategically well-positioned .
These arguments are useful in helping us to define our research parameters within the cultural domain. This is a field characterised by practices, products and institutions of great prominence and power and by practices, products and institutions which have remained largely invisible in traditional policy-related research frameworks. In a world where the majority of nations remain net importers of cultural product, this perspective gains added significance.
In developing an agenda for such 'cultural mapping' at national and international levels we will need to be very attentive to the fact that the ground has been well-surveyed, albeit from rather patrician heights, before and that we need to be attentive to the following issues:
In developing this approach there needs to be a new compact and relationship between 'local knowledge' and tactics on the one hand, and the larger and strategic prerogatives of cultural policy and service delivery on the other. This is a matter not simply of the adjustment of existing settings but also of the production of new forms of knowledge through inclusive and integrated research agendas.
In the end, of course, what we are confronted with in the development of a research agenda for cultural mapping is a new conceptual paradigm - or at least a theoretical horizon - within which it becomes possible to reconcile a broad and inclusive approach to the forms of production which constitute the cultural field with an equally broad approach to the forms and modalities of consumption. As we begin to reconcile those moments in the value chain, and the points in between - distribution, circulation, delivery mechanisms, access - we can also start to recognise the inherent connectedness of the cultural domain with others such as the nature of our 'lifestyles' and quality of life, the quality of our built and natural environments, our capacities for creativity and innovation (our 'soft' and 'creative infrastructure'), and our ability to educate and train for diversity. It is at this crucial point that the cultural policy domain joins with other domains and, as Jacques Depaigne put it, of 'integrating cultural policy into social options as a whole'.
To achieve this level of integration, and drawing lessons from outcomes from the cultural mapping of communities, it will be important to re-invent, through research and application, the conceptual category of cultural industry and the forms of intelligence which are necessary to comprehend it.
4.3 Cultural Industry Intelligence
There has been an historical tendency for cultural policy research, framed largely within the European aesthetic tradition, to steer clear of economic and industry arguments and analyses except where, as in 'economic benefits of the arts' arguments, agencies are able to demonstrate the economic potential of cultural activities in addition to their intrinsic merits. This does not, we should note, entail placing the production of cultural goods and services in an overall industry context for analysis but, rather, constitutes a form of special pleading in the form of recognising 'externalities' to economic transactions which is less and less persuasive to stakeholders in a much broader field of culture.
In the 1970s and 80s Augustin Girard argued for the rediscovery of the 'forgotten cultural industries' at the heart of contemporary cultural policy It is worth restating those arguments here.
Nearly twenty years on the arguments remain acutely pertinent and, in the context of the development of new communications technologies, even more urgent as a central item of research agendas. There is an urgent need to take into account, in new research agendas, the other elements of what is now called the 'Value Production Chain' for the cultural industries.
Applying value production chain analysis to the cultural industries renders some interesting results which would tend to confirm the arguments above about the undue policy emphasis on the moments of production or creation (artists and institutions traditionally defined).
It is also the case that 'value' in value production chain analysis should not be construed in purely economic terms. Access to product, value, experience, resource or amenity in physical, economic, social, cultural or intellectual terms remains a key 'equity indicator'. We might have the finest visual or performing artists in the world but unless they can get their 'product' into circulation and reception through the various stages of the production chain, who would know about them or get access to them?
The implications for the development of new and integrated research agendas recognising the interdependence between variables normally analysed separately and addressing questions of access, citizenship, legal issues and community development are clear. Translated into these terms, value production chain analysis provides a useful architecture for cultural research.
This model of 'economic' evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of culture as an 'industry sector', far from taking us into the murky realms of economic rationalism, provides a means for both broadening the policy object - culture - and a way of addressing some key equity issues. The value production chain has the virtue of taking us, in research and policy development, beyond the moment of production/creation and therefore beyond an exclusive concern with the artist/creator and with the institutions of production. It is also concerned with the cultural marketplace and with the consumers of cultural product wherever they may be.
The Value Production Chain for the cultural industries therefore provides a heuristic framework for strategic and integrated research and analysis from the moment of production to the moment of consumption and beyond. It also enables us to identify those agencies and stakeholders which are internal to the industry - sector-specific creators, producers, publishers, distributors, marketers, points of sale, etc - and those which are external to the industry sector such as education and training agencies, research bodies, government agencies, stakeholders in the local environment, etc., but which form an important part of the bigger and strategic picture into which the cultural industry fits. If we are to understand the nature of the relationships, in a globalised cultural economy, between countries and systems which are net importers of cultural product and those which are net exporters, and to engage, further, with the mechanisms for redressing this imbalance, then this sort of research and the knowledge that it produces will be vitally important.
Like cultural mapping, then, value production chain analysis provides the foundations, at least for sketching out that larger canvas in which we locate the broader significance and impacts of culture and its industries. In the Australian context, a senior cultural administrator has argued that 'the failure to take an industry-focused approach to culture deprives policy development of its most useful tool' (Daniels, 1997:5). Basing her arguments on the application of value production chain analysis to the cultural sector, this experienced cultural policy administrator goes on to argue that, in traditional cultural policy;
[t]here has been a tendency not to take a whole industry or industry sector approach, or to examine where, within the value chain government is most active. Instead, the focus has been on individual programs. I would argue that only by becoming industry-focused rather than program-focused can a useful methodology be developed within which both the impact and the potentially distorting effects of intervention can be assessed. In addition, only through taking an industry approach, in which the strengths and weaknesses of industry sectors are recognised, can the government's cultural objectives be effectively delivered. (Daniels, 1997:6)
From the policy-maker's point of view the sort of strategic perspective provided by value production chain analysis as a heuristic framework for cultural industry intelligence clearly has great value in determining if, when, where and how to intervene in an industry to ensure its sustainability and Daniels goes on to show how important this approach has been in supporting the relatively small and fragile film and book-publishing industries in Australia and in the emergent interactive multimedia sector. The same argument applies at the international level where we are dealing with cultural 'trade' as well as with the cultural industries.
The sort of knowledge offered by industry-wide research of this type is acutely and dramatically highlighted by an incident which occurred during the writing of this paper. This was the highest ever price ($A206,000/ $US 155,000) paid for an Aboriginal painting - Water Dreaming at Karipinya - at a Sotheby's Auction in Melbourne. The artist, John Warangkula Tjupurrula, who sold the piece to an astute collector in the early 1970s, was paid $A150 at the time and now lives in conditions of extreme poverty in Alice Springs. While many Aboriginal artists are these days much wiser about the nature of the western art market, it still remains the case that their crucial weaknesses in knowledge are not at the point of creation and production - their talent abounds and is generally well-managed - but at subsequent points on the value production chain for their work. Certainly, a little more knowledge of how value gets added in a growing cultural sector stretching from remote outback regions to metropolitan fine art dealers - not to mention a revised copyright and intellectual property regime - would be a valuable asset to the quality of life of both producers and consumers.
5. Principles and strategies for moving forward
Our arguments in relation to the broad research development areas of 'cultural mapping' and 'cultural industry intelligence' have been developed in order to provide some settings and examples for both a quantitative extension and a qualitative enhancement of international and collaborative agendas for cultural policy research. They have been designed to provide a broad base from which it will be possible to address the disciplinary, conceptual, political, and organisational issues and weaknesses in international cultural policy research which we address in the first part of the paper and to address the issues of research relations as well as research content. That is to say that the methodological bases of both cultural mapping and industry intelligence as formulated here must, of necessity, be intersectoral, cross-agency, collaborative and consultative.
Further, this broad-based approach should enable the development of a sufficiently common and integrated but not 'universal' agenda for the identification, assessment, planning and management of cultural resources, while being attentive to local, national and regional variables in the four identified research agenda areas of Access to Cultural Resources, Citizenship and Public Culture, Legal/Cultural Interfaces, and Culture and Community Development.
On the basis of these arguments, and in conclusion, we propose two core principles and some implementation considerations for cultural policy research into and for the twenty-first century.
Research in, of, and for cultural policy must acknowledge, respect and integrate into its heuristic and analytical frameworks the facts of diversity of cultural resources, the range of forms of participation in the cultural field, from production to consumption, and the forms of articulation of the cultural field with social, economic, environmental and ethical policy domains.
The development of research objectives, programs and methods in the cultural field should, where practicable, be interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral and cross-agency and involve the widest range of stakeholders for the identified objective(s).
To address these core principles and the action agenda indicated here - and to avoid a 'wish list' - we suggest the following broad strategies.
Recognising the priority need for greatly enhanced and policy-relevant research in the cultural field, UNESCO should encourage, through advocacy, policy development and joint funding arrangements, an interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral and interagency approach through mechanisms such as:
Recognising the immature and often contingent nature of research in the field of cultural policy and development, UNESCO, through the framework of the United Nations, should investigate the possibilities of establishing a co-ordinating entity which would operate in a similar way to, for example, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). This could take the form of recognition and resourcing of a range of regional entities, operating in cross-sectoral and interagency mode, making up a global research institution with an agreed international program rather than a single centralised body. Such an entity would have the functions of:
UNESCO should establish collaborative research programs with other peak international bodies such as the OECD and The World Bank in areas of clear and productive overlap of interests and strategic concern such as:
Tony Bennett is Professor of Cultural Studies and Director of the Australian Key Centre for Cultural and Media Policy at the Faculty of Humanities, Griffith University, Australia. He has researched and written extensively in the area of cultural policy (e.g. The Reluctant Museum Visitor), cultural consumption and museums; he has edited anthologies on film, television, cultural and media studies.
Colin Mercer is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Humanities, Griffith University, Australia. He has edited and contributed to various anthologies on cultural, literary and political theory and is currently working on the methodologies of cultural history; aspects of language policy and multiculturalism; cultural planning for urban development. His publications include Navigating the Economy of Knowledge.