Cultural Policy & Major Events

The Cultural Policy & Major Events research strand looks at national and international policy frameworks for culture and places a particular emphasis on their application in the context of large-scale cultural interventions. Special events, such as the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) or the Olympic Games, and high profile denominations, such as becoming a World Heritage Site, are important catalysts for cultural policy as they require the formalisation of a common narrative for culture across a wide diversity of stakeholders over a concentrated period of time. This process can, in turn, be a driver for cultural change and regeneration with widespread economic, social and cultural impacts. Dr Beatriz Garcia leads the Cultural Policy & Major Events research strand, bringing 15 years of experience at the forefront of the culture-led regeneration and cultural impact debate, including her role as Director of the pioneering Impacts 08 research programme which laid the foundation for the ICC as a centre of excellence in culture research.

ICC projects that focus on the assessment of cultural policy and its impact via large-scale interventions include the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Evaluation (2011-13), which was funded by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), Arts Council England and a network of partners. This project built on the Impacts 08 research model to assess the multiple impacts of hosting the Cultural Olympiad as a four-year UK-wide cultural programme, considered the largest cultural event ever hosted in the UK, both in terms of its geographic remit and diversity of interventions. The research assessed the impact of the Cultural Olympiad in terms of its approaches to cultural programming, engagement of multiple audiences and communities, contribution to tourism development, role in the formation of diverse and sustainable partnerships, and also in terms of its impact on the broader Olympic and Paralympic Games — in particular, the programme’s success in proving that arts and culture are essential to the identity and sustainability of major international sporting events. This research has provided an unprecedented evidence base on the added value created by having dedicated cultural policies for the Games hosting process and is becoming a key referent point for future sporting events, including the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In 2012, Beatriz was also appointed to lead a European network of researchers in assessing the Long Term Effects of hosting the European Capital of Culture, with funding from the European Parliament. This project looked into the evolution of the ECoC programme since its inception in 1985 and assessed existing evidence of impact and sustained legacy across cultural, social, economic, governance and political domains. The project developed in parallel with extensive discussion on the future of the programme and its policy priorities, and resulted in a detailed report that will become a significant referent point for the articulation of future European cultural policy interventions.

Other recent projects include a study on the value of the World Heritage Site (WHS) title for Liverpool, co-funded by the ICC and English Heritage and supported by Liverpool Vision and the Liverpool Local Enterprise Partnership. This project assessed the impact of the WHS title on the city’s image and reputation as well as local citizens’ sense of place. The consultation methodology for the study included a wide-scale, online public survey; a detailed media content analysis of references to Liverpool as a WHS since its nomination to the present day; a range of community focus groups; and stakeholder interviews with key business representatives.

All of these projects are informed by previous research led by Beatriz, which includes a range of pioneering projects in culture-led regeneration, from the Sydney 2000 Olympic cultural programme, the legacy of the Glasgow 1990 European City of Culture. From Sydney onwards, Beatriz has conducted primary research at every Olympic Games – Winter and Summer – in addition to research on a range of European Capitals of Culture and Commonwealth Games, with funding from such organisations as the British Academy, the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the Universities China Committee in London, the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, the European Commission and the International Olympic Committee.

This body of work was widely utilised to inform the culture bid for the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games, and has also informed the bidding processes for the first UK City of Culture title (awarded to Derry/Londonderry 2013) and the 2016 World Design Capital, for which Beatriz was appointed an expert Selection Committee member. Since 2008, Beatriz has also been a member of the International Olympic Committee Postgraduate Research Grant Select Committee in Lausanne, thus informing priorities for the IOC international research programme.


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