Comparing Cultural Policies and Systems of Governance/Management

Several major comparative research projects of the ERICarts Institute have explored the increasingly complex nature of culture as a separate domain of policy making.

The results of its projects have shown that, in the past decades, the boundaries of culture as a policy field have been opened beyond support for artistic creation.   Cultural policy makers can no longer ignore a broader agenda of cultural development. This more open concept at the base of culture policy development implies:

  • the participation of a wide range of decision-makers, promoters and managers in the creation, production, distribution, preservation, management and consumption of culture and artistic creativity at all levels of society.
  • a host of institutions and regulatory frameworks to support such a broadened system of governance for culture.

In management terms, this means that governance is carried out through networks, forums, institutions and administrative systems.   This does not necessarily suggest a "bureaucratic" style of policy implementation but one which is flexible and open to new innovations.

Cultural policy makers in Europe also find themselves in the position of navigating between policy fields which regulate the (global and local) markets for cultural goods and services and the information society.   They have to consider the changing employment status, working practises and mobility of artists.   More recently, they are to address one of the inherent contradictions which lie at the heart of many national cultural policies:   to preserve and promote national identity while simultaneously pursuing principles of cultural diversity and encouraging transnational exchanges.

No one says it better than Carl-Johan Kleberg: "Policy makers and policy planners need to be helped!"   Clearly they require better and more information on a range of issues which necessitates the establishment of closer ties and exchange with the research community who can provide them with a knowledge base to inform their work; what some may today call "knowledge transfer and uptake". This places great importance on:

1) the regular collection of basic policy relevant information and data; and

2) reliable and timely comparative cultural policy research and analysis (which is, of course, dependent on the value of the first).

These activities are at the heart of the work carried out by the ERICarts Institute and were supported by a "flagship project" that has been developed and, until the end of 2017, continuously updated jointly with the Council of Europe: the "Compendium of Cultural Policies &Trends in Europe" (