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Spear-carriers or speaking parts?: arts practitioners in the cultural policy process

By Jane Woddis


This thesis investigates the role of arts practitioners in cultural policy activity, both as a general concern for cultural policy studies and in the specific arena of post-war cultural policy in Britain. In so doing it challenges a common perception that arts practitioners have no such involvement, and seeks to discover the extent and form of their activity. it explores the history of practitioners’ participation in cultural policy formation and implementation; what obstacles they have faced and how their involvement could be better facilitated; and, importantly, why it matters whether they are involved. These issues have remained largely unrecognised among cultural policy researchers.\ud \ud Part II of the thesis examines the subject through a case study of new playwriting policy in England. Drawing on unpublished primary documents, interviews, and observation, it pays particular attention to playwrights’ organisations and their history of self-directed activity. These organisations and other agencies concerned with theatre writing are embedded in networks which cross the boundaries of policy and creative practice. The thesis argues that arts practitioners can enhance their place in the policy process through their own actions, and that participation in these networks increases their opportunity for policy input and influence.\ud \ud Of key importance is the question as to why the involvement of practitioners in cultural policy activity is of any significance. The thesis puts forward the view that arts practitioners and their organisations can be seen as part of the fabric of civil society, and their participation in policy activity as contributing to the maintenance and enlargement of democratic life. It is, then, not a marginal issue, nor of concern to the arts alone, but integral to a wider debate about sustaining democratic engagement and the civic arena in the twenty-first century

Topics: CB, PN2000
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