A change of direction for regional Cultural Observatories?

An options study (PDF, 815kb) launched last month by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) culture and sport evidence programme has shed new light on the future of regional level culture and sport research.

You may remember that there’s been uncertainty over the future of regional research since the release of the DCMS review of regional infrastructure in July 2008 and the subsequent closure of Regional Cultural Consortia  (see previous CRAIN newsletters: August 2008–March 2009).

The vision cast by the new CASE report (PDF, 815kb) is one whereby the regional tier research function would provide a link between national and local tiers, working closely with local government in order to pull together local data and case studies, while disseminating national data across regional and local networks.

This is something of a departure from the previous direction of Cultural Observatories, particularly in terms of the formal link with local tier research.

Indeed, as the authors of the study acknowledge, there is likely to be a need for the region’s cultural sector leaders to get behind the regional-local partnership development work in particular, given the scale of this task.

Underpinning the various recommendations is the recognition that a ‘high quality evidence base’ is needed to for the effective delivery of the DCMS agencies’ shared priorities, namely:

  • Regional strategies
  • Local area agreements and local government commitment to culture and sport
  • Place-shaping
  • 2012 and the Cultural Olympiad

So what will all this mean for us here in the West Midlands?

The simple answer is: we don’t yet know.

In the New Year, the consultant appointed by CASE to scope the specific requirements in each region will be publishing her findings, at which point the implications for the West Midlands will become clearer.

Currently, the region hosts one cultural research analyst (funded until 2012) whose work focuses on research related to the West Midlands Culture Programme for London 2012.

Download the options study (PDF, 815kb)

For more information contact: case@culture.gsi.gov.uk

Photo by Segozyme

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