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  • Author or Editor: Phil Jones x
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The concept of participatory budgeting was developed as a means of bypassing corrupt local elites and creating better governance in developing countries. Applied in the global north, it attempts to give power back to communities to set spending priorities within their neighbourhoods. This chapter examines two attempts at participatory budgeting for the arts in Birmingham – the city council’s Arts Champions scheme and a participatory action research project led by the author. Two key problems highlighted by the case studies are identified. First, funders being reluctant to hand full control to neighbourhoods over how spending is undertaken, with a tendency to push communities toward the funders’ spending priorities. Second, and related to this, is a lack of capacity at neighbourhood level to move beyond the “ideas generation” stage, toward having the confidence to design and commission cultural projects to realise those ideas. This speaks to wider problems in deprived communities – notably education, skills and confidence – that cannot be tackled simply by adding cultural activity.

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Revisiting approaches to cultural engagement
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Based on a four-year research project which highlights the important role of community organisations as intermediaries between community and culture, this book analyses the role played by cultural intermediaries who seek to mitigate the worst effects of social exclusion through engaging communities with different forms of cultural consumption and production. The authors challenge policymakers who see cultural intermediation as an inexpensive fix to social problems and explore the difficulty for intermediaries to rapidly adapt their activity to the changing public-sector landscape and offer alternative frameworks for future practice.

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A Guide for Researchers in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Since the mid-2010s, virtual reality (VR) technology has advanced rapidly. This book explores the many opportunities that VR can offer for humanities and social sciences researchers.

The book provides a user-friendly, non-technical methods guide to using ready-made VR content and 360° video as well as creating custom materials. It examines the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to using VR, providing helpful, real-world examples of how researchers have used the technology. The insights drawn from this analysis will inspire scholars to explore the possibilities of using VR in their own research projects.

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By linking contemporary practice using design principles in policy with political science and public administration theories, this book offers a distinctive contribution to debates on policy design. The book is conceived as a conversation between theory and practice. It goes beyond traditional scholarship to offer not solely a critique of what exists, but to set out proposals for alternatives. Policy design is fundamentally about substantive and instrumental ambitions to achieve better policy outcomes. In the face of glaring inadequacies and limitations in addressing many of the complex challenges we face as a society, this book challenges conventional policy design and opens up a conversation about how to imagine and realise a radically democratic alternative form of policy design: co-production. First, through a series of heuristics, the book generates theoretical tensions and encourages creative thinking about policy design. Then, compelling international contributions from practitioners, policy makers, activists and engaged scholars provide specific contexts for these theoretical debates. In doing so, the book provides both a framing and grounding for ongoing debates and provides a means for advancing experimentation in policy design.

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The book concludes by arguing not about the need to increase funding for cultural intermediaries, but rather for a critical examination of the role of culture in tacking entrenched inequality. The cultural sector is largely a closed shop, dominated by the white middle classes in south east England. Realistically, only the very talented and very lucky can count on the creative sector as a route out of poverty, regardless of how many well-meaning cultural activities run in deprived neighbourhoods. The chapter calls for a clearer delineation of different types of intermediary function, noting that the excellent work done by intermediaries based in deprived communities tackling skills and confidence building should not be unreflexively conflated with the activities of large arts organisations engaging in wider practices of marketing cities to middle class consumers. The chapter concludes that cultural intermediation will continue to play a role in building confidence and skills among a relatively small number of people. Unfortunately, in the face of a right-wing agenda that seems determined to entrench inequality, the capacity of cultural activity to transform society remains highly limited.

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Introducing the book as a whole, this chapter examines how the arts sector and wider creative economy are evolving, particularly in the context of austerity. The idea of cultural intermediation is introduced, building on the work of Pierre Bourdieu to examine how organisations and individuals attempt to use cultural activity as a tool to improve the lives of individuals living in deprived communities. Austerity economics has had a major impact on the work of intermediaries, with communities simultaneously made responsible for solving their own socioeconomic problems, while the institutions with the capacity to mitigate inequality have been eroded through funding cuts. The cultural deficit model is challenged, noting that exposure to arts activities in and of itself does little to overcome entrenched inequality and social exclusion. The chapter also introduces the wider case studies used within the book, primarily examining the UK, with a particular ethnographic focus on the neighbourhoods of Ordsall in Salford and Balsall Heath in Birmingham.

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This book explores the policy and social frames through which citizens and wider communities are being engaged with culture as a tool to mitigate the effects of social exclusion and deprivation. The study is based on an inter-disciplinary four-year research project investigating those individuals and organisations whose mission is to use culture, instrumentally, to help deprived communities in a variety of different ways. The project sought to examine the different scales of activity involved within cultural intermediation, examining national policy and practice, but grounded within specific community-level case studies. Although a number of sites across England were examined, two field sites in particular were the subject for a deep ethnographic engagement, including active interventions. These were Birmingham, with a focus on the Balsall Heath neighbourhood and Greater Manchester, with detailed work being undertaken in the Ordsall ward of Salford. These case studies feature throughout much of the book as a lens through which to see the impacts of wider policy trends. Research was undertaken during a period of quite dramatic change in policy and governance within the UK’s cultural sector. These changes were driven by one of the biggest experiments in refiguring the role of the public sector within the UK since 1945, as post-credit crunch governments have responded to the challenges of a struggling global economy by employing the discourse of ‘austerity’. As this book shows, what has emerged is a cultural intermediation sector that has refined its practices, adopting new funding models and arenas of activity.

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This book explores the policy and social frames through which citizens and wider communities are being engaged with culture as a tool to mitigate the effects of social exclusion and deprivation. The study is based on an inter-disciplinary four-year research project investigating those individuals and organisations whose mission is to use culture, instrumentally, to help deprived communities in a variety of different ways. The project sought to examine the different scales of activity involved within cultural intermediation, examining national policy and practice, but grounded within specific community-level case studies. Although a number of sites across England were examined, two field sites in particular were the subject for a deep ethnographic engagement, including active interventions. These were Birmingham, with a focus on the Balsall Heath neighbourhood and Greater Manchester, with detailed work being undertaken in the Ordsall ward of Salford. These case studies feature throughout much of the book as a lens through which to see the impacts of wider policy trends. Research was undertaken during a period of quite dramatic change in policy and governance within the UK’s cultural sector. These changes were driven by one of the biggest experiments in refiguring the role of the public sector within the UK since 1945, as post-credit crunch governments have responded to the challenges of a struggling global economy by employing the discourse of ‘austerity’. As this book shows, what has emerged is a cultural intermediation sector that has refined its practices, adopting new funding models and arenas of activity.

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This book explores the policy and social frames through which citizens and wider communities are being engaged with culture as a tool to mitigate the effects of social exclusion and deprivation. The study is based on an inter-disciplinary four-year research project investigating those individuals and organisations whose mission is to use culture, instrumentally, to help deprived communities in a variety of different ways. The project sought to examine the different scales of activity involved within cultural intermediation, examining national policy and practice, but grounded within specific community-level case studies. Although a number of sites across England were examined, two field sites in particular were the subject for a deep ethnographic engagement, including active interventions. These were Birmingham, with a focus on the Balsall Heath neighbourhood and Greater Manchester, with detailed work being undertaken in the Ordsall ward of Salford. These case studies feature throughout much of the book as a lens through which to see the impacts of wider policy trends. Research was undertaken during a period of quite dramatic change in policy and governance within the UK’s cultural sector. These changes were driven by one of the biggest experiments in refiguring the role of the public sector within the UK since 1945, as post-credit crunch governments have responded to the challenges of a struggling global economy by employing the discourse of ‘austerity’. As this book shows, what has emerged is a cultural intermediation sector that has refined its practices, adopting new funding models and arenas of activity.

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This chapter examines contradictions in the rhetoric which depicts changes to the English planning system under the Localism Act as offering communities more control over their neighbourhoods. There are major issues around community capacity to take advantages of these legislative changes meaning that wealthier and better organised neighbourhoods will gain the most. The chapter describes a pilot project using a smartphone app (‘MapLocal’) attempting to give communities a cheap and effective way to undertake the initial phase of producing a neighbourhood plan. Although the pilot showed the potential for such technologies, there are still major issues around reconciling competing viewpoints within communities. Beyond the case study, there remain grave difficulties for meeting neighbourhood scale aspirations within the confines of a national planning system driven by economic gain at the expense of local control.

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