Observer’s Notes

Copyright: Andreas Hartmann

The observers Jonathan Vickery, Vanessa-Isabelle Reinwand-Weiss, Rana Yazaji, and Lázaro I. Rodríguez Oliva at the Observers’ Panel in the Audimax of the University of Hildesheim.

Mexican Perspective

Internationalization and Cooperation in Cultural Policy Research

by Lázaro I. Rodríguez Oliva

Once again, the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development, hosted by the Department of Cultural Policy at the University of Hildesheim, allowed me to share a ten years experience working in between cultural-for-development policies research and policy decision-making facility for public institutions, universities, international cooperation for development agencies, cultural structures for regional integration and civil society.

In the context of rethinking the role of culture as a driver and enabler for development, promoted by UNESCO and the United Nations System, the 8th International Conference on Cultural Policy Research 2014 itself become an opportunity to find some answers and more questions about what means good governance for cultural policy as public and social policy. Let me focus on the specific issue of Internationalization and cooperation in Cultural Policy Research, as they were the main interest to participate in such a gathering of a selected pool of expert in the eclectic cultural policy research field.

In this context, four key findings may be outlined:

  • The strengthening of global networks for cultural policy research that values information sharing to facilitate cultural policy decision-making.
  • The visibility of the emergent cultural policy thinking in Africa, Latin America and Asia that makes possible global circulation of some of these ideas, mainly, those that has been translated into English. And of course, the opportunity for a dialogue with the North scholarly production of knowledge.

  • The need for a more effective relation between cultural policy research and decision making in order to overcome on one hand, the lack of social commitment of some cultural researchers and on other, the improvisation in cultural policy decision making and cultural management.
  • The transformative potential of research outcomes in cultural policy considering theirs contribution to the necessary ecology of knowledge and practices toward responsible good governance.

In the context of good governance, Schneider and Gad mentioned that “it is necessary to question the meaning of transparency and participation, efficiency, accountability, market economy, the rule of law and justice within and for cultural policy activity and within processes of democratic transformation” (Schneider/Gad 2014: 10). The cultural policy research field should be problematized from this point of view.

Two questions came to me: How do we reinforce the responsibility as researchers towards “good” governance for “good” social transformations in the context of the debate and practice of Culture-for-Development? And what is the potential of internationalization actions and cooperation strategies for the cultural policies research field?

Towards more effective and socially responsible investigation practices, a new agenda on cultural policy research may consider:

  • Strengthening a global network for cultural policy research

    • Social networks and information sharing based on Information and Communication Technologies and their use during the process of policy decision-making.

    • Universities cultural responsibility models, indicators and good practices.

    • Internationalization of knowledge management for creative cultural policy.

    • National and international coordination in research, cooperation for development and arts and cultural cooperation funds (based on human, technical and financial resources).

    • Labour market mapping for cultural policy research as part of creative economy.

  • Increasing emergence of a cultural policy thinking in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

    • Culture-for-Development Agenda setting, cultural politics and cultural policy.

    • Creative solutions to the languages barriers for information sharing. Translation platforms could be part of a new knowledge sharing efforts.

    • Knowledge production using the tools of arts at science.

  • Effectively articulating cultural policy research and decision-making.
    • Role of researchers in the process of democratizing policy decision-making. Participatory research experiences impacts in participatory decision-making opportunities.

    • Political mediations and intellectualization of the cultural policy debate.

    • The impacts of improvisation in cultural management in cultural policy decisions.

    • Role of the experts in the expertise agenda setting.

  • Advocating for the transformative potential of cultural policy research considering its contribution to the necessary ecology of knowledge toward responsible good governance in the context of the new Agenda for Development post 2015.


Schneider, Wolfgang, and Daniel Gad. 2014. “Towards Cultural Governance. Preface.” In: Good Governance for Cultural Policy. An African-European Research about Arts and Development, edited by Schneider, Wolfgang, and Daniel Gad. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. pp. 10-13.


British Perspective

Cultural Policy Researchers as Change Agents

by Jonathan Vickery

The conference was successful, not just because it was well organized, in a charming place, where many of us enjoyed the serene cycle ride along a beautiful riverside pathway. It was successful because the critical consciousness of the agencies of cultural policy research was expanded in unexpected ways. This was particularly due to interventions of colleagues from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Their presence was testament to the commitment of the Department of Cultural Policy at the University of Hildesheim to advancing cultural relations and intercultural dialogue in these parts of the world. It is exemplary of an academic practice that has a commitment to the ethics of global cultural policy in relation to both EU and UN principles, wherein given the state of the world we surely all need to play a role in advancing rights, diversity, sustainability, development.

The theme of the conference was “cultural policy”, which may seem predictable, but it was not. It is fashionable in both policy and academic circles to see “cultural policy” as a Euro-centric “statist” venture whose day is past – supplanted by more specific and relevant policies for a diversity of creative industries sectors, global media and new civil society organisations. This conference underlined the need for diversity in cultural policy research, but also – as UNESCO Chair Professor Wolfgang Schneider emphasized on a number of occasions – the need to identify and investigate the social, ethical and governmental dimension to this new emerging creative landscape.

The diversity of conference papers, from around 60 countries – the interdisciplinarity and mixed method approaches that characterised many of them – did not generate a sense of disconnection or incoherence. As noted by Arturo Rodríguez Morató, Professor at University of Barcelona, in the closing session (repeated in Per Mangset’s, Professor emeritus at Telemark University College, poignant speech closing the conference), the ICCPR conferences have never attempted to construct a unified disciplinary basis for our field. They serve to animate this diverse field with a common purpose.

This purpose I found in the sessions I attended or participated in – rearticulated through the question of agency. Who are the real agents of cultural change in a given place – do they include cultural policy researchers? The conference attracted a critical mass of non-academics – of policy makers, development workers, management consultants, and so on. It suggested that cultural policy needs research – but it needs a spectrum of researchers, each revealing the value (and limitations) of the other. By the end of the conference it became clear the Hildes­heim ICCPR2014 was throwing up a great challenge: the cultural policy researcher should be a change agent. This was to be achieved not simply through writing or publishing more, but through locating the social dimensions of research practice (through collaborations, symposia, research trips, exchanges, and so on). These are opportunities for the mobilisation of cross-border collegiality and ways of embedding cultural policy research in the intellectual, institutional and political life of actual places.

German Perspective

Much international consensus about arts education

by Vanessa-Isabelle Reinwand-Weiss

It was a great enquiring and unstressed atmosphere on our “cultural campus” and in my opinion the scientific quality of the papers was really high. I would have had appreciated if we had discussed our research methods more. Cultural policy is such an interdisciplinary research field with so many approaches that it could be very interesting to learn more about our different ways to research or to receive data. For example I listened to a researcher who uses google data to learn more about cultural participation. This is new and really exiting!

My main research topic is arts education and therefore I will tell something about that: arts education played a big(ger) role in the conference, many sessions dealt with arts education. This is a change to recent years I heard some people say and it shows that arts education becomes an interesting topic in cultural policy more and more.

In my plenary session we learned that there are almost similar legitimising patterns for arts education in various countries even if they are weighted different. For example arts education for building a national identity is a weak argument in Germany but strong in other countries. All in all and unfortunately we have to admit that arts education is not really important in any country compared to other subjects. But there are strong beliefs in arts education, there are many claims about the positive effects in arts education and sometimes only that belief seems to be effective.

In my session we learned: doing arts can be seen as a ritual. There are transformations in people’s behaviour or opinions when doing the arts even if we cannot measure that. Despite that we need more research on arts education impacts and processes especially more efforts in longitudinal studies and we need more critical research on the “eco-system” of arts education like schools, cultural institutions and cultural policy.

Regarding the programmes and co-operations between schools and artists we raised some important questions that are crucial for many countries: Why do we need artists and arts education thought by out-of-school actors in schools? And it is right that schools always have to be changed? Perhaps also the cultural sector has to be changed! Like every good research we have more questions afterwards than we had in the beginning.

I will end with two general remarks: in many countries radicalism and right parties are a more and more frequent phenomenon; a fact that occurs more often. There have not been many papers which discussed their appearance and cultural rituals. I think we should have more research to understand these developments.

Another thing: in many papers I found the idea of a strong citizenship and a policy that deals with empowering people – a kind of bottom-up thinking in cultural policy. At the same time I heard a lot of mistrust in federal cultural policy making and a strong belief that cultural policy is not as powerful as we often think. These are interesting developments in our own research field. Finally yesterday I heard a critical voice saying: “Do not believe that government policy papers are directly related to practice and reality!” I mean that is worth to think about and ask ourselves which are social and political variables that really change something in cultural reality.

South African Perspective

An outstanding Conference

by Patrick Ebewo

On 9 September 2014, the shining Torch of the International Conference on Cultural Policy Research (ICCPR) left the Spanish shores where it last burned in 2012 to the University of Hildesheim in Germany. The 8th International Conference on Cultural Policy (ICCPR2014) was held at the Kulturcampus Domäne Marienburg, a unique and awesome Medieval type campus that provided intellectual inspirational shade to the “burning” academics who gathered to “Explore. Discuss. Promote” issues relating to cultural policy in different countries of the world. I was one participant, among the more than 400 conference delegates from more than 60 countries who converged to read papers during the conference. Since my home is in faraway Africa, I attended the conference not only as a delegate but as a visitor. As one of the African proverbs states, “a visitor is an observer” and hence, this submission of my Observer’s Note during the period of the conference.

In my academic career, of the more than 187 international conferences that I have attended, the German ICPR2014 Conference seems to have been the best organised. A conference with more than 400 delegates, one was weary of being part of a jamboree, but the opposite was the truth. The organisation of the conference got neatly together like a seamless thread. Thanks to the tireless and comic thrust of the Convener of the Conference, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schneider, occupant of the UNESCO Chair in “Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development”, with the super-capable assistance of his energetic lieutenant, Dr. Daniel Gad.

The conference kicked off at 6 pm on Tuesday, 9 September 2014 at the Hildesheim City Theatre, a monumental architectural building that provided a very impressive space for the inauguration of the conference. As usual with conferences, the Opening Ceremony saw a galore of artistic presentations in between mind-blowing speeches. The Welcome Address was presented by the Mayor of the City of Hildesheim, Dr. Ingo Meyer, followed by a speech by the Chair of the Scientific Committee ICCPR, Prof. Jenny Johannisson. The President of the University of Hildesheim, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang-Uwe Friedrich and the Director of the Department of Cultural Policy, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schneider also welcomed the guests. Shortly after these speeches in the amphitheatre space where delegates sat comfortably were Opening Speeches by Prof, Dr. Bernd M. Scherer, Director of Haus der Kulturen der Welt and a passionate speech titled “Cultural policies in the Arab Region”, delivered by Basma El Husseiny of Egypt. Between 8 and 10 pm, there was a grand reception party at the foyer of the theatre in honour of the conference delegates.

At about 9 am, Kulturcampus Domäne Marienburg played host to the delegates during the second day of the conference on 10 September. There were Paper Sessions paralleled to Thematic Sessions. Several academics presented papers at different venues. What became unique were the Semi-Plenary Sessions that embraced round table presentations on Cultural Policy and Processes of Transformation, Cultural Policy and Participation and Cultural Policy and Arts Education. During these Semi-Plenaries, all delegates met in one venue to debate on salient issues listed above. Because of the large number of delegates who attended the conference, one expected a stampede during lunch but the ingenuity of decentralising service stations eased things. There were no queues during lunch. After-lunch Paper Sessions drained participants who later became energised during the Congress Dinner which took place at Hotel Novotel. Programme line-up for the second day of the conference was exactly like the first – Paper Presentations and Semi-Plenary Sessions.

On 12 September, delegates changed venue and converged in the Main Campus of the University of Hildesheim (Marienburger Höhe). The night before, interested delegates were advised to check out of the hotel rooms on 12 September in preparation for a cultural trip to Berlin, the Capital of Germany. We arrived Audimax, Main Campus at about 9.30 am with our luggage. Student ushers took care of our luggage while we participated in the Observers Panel which lasted for about one and half hours. The Session was led by four Cultural Policy intellectuals and was nearly hijacked by an issue of non-representation of active government employees at the conference. While some were of the opinion that the non-inclusion of government people in the conference was not an omission, many were of the impression that their participation would add value to our deliberations. After the Final Panel Discussions and concluding remarks by Prof. Dr. Per Mangset of Norway, indeed the grand founder of ICCPR, we all picked up our lunch packs and boarded the buses to Berlin.

The four hours trip from Hildesheim to Berlin was full of adventure as delegates fed their eyes with the exotic German landscapes and beautiful sceneries. The dramatic tour directors including Prof. Schneider explained every bit of the cities as we passed along. Even when we arrived Berlin, the bus tour of the city became a delight as every building and public space were explained fully. In the evening, the academic theorists and researchers in the realm of Cultural Policy had the rare opportunity to meet with practitioners in the arts. The Lower Saxon Minister for Science and Arts and Berlin State Secretary for Cultural Affairs gave us warm welcome and the evening ended with a sumptuous dinner and party. The following day, delegates were taken on a tour of some outstanding arts institutions in Germany including the Intercultural Theatre Maxim Gorki and Museums.

The conference was an occasion many of us will never forget.