Aimed at providing young/early career cultural policy researchers with the opportunity to meet fellow researchers, share their experiences and analyse topical research issues regarding content and methodology, the YCPR Forum brought together in Helsinki, on the 11-12 October 2011, researchers, students, academics and cultural policy experts in the cultural field drawn from a wide range of countries in Europe and beyond.

One of the workshops with young researchers during the Forum in Helsinki was on how cultural policies are relevant to real life, addressing topics such as: creative cities, creativity in everyday life, support for the creative economy, the place and role of small cities in cultural policy formulation, cultural empowerment and revitalization through the arts. We discussed the following questions:

Here are some of the findings and conclusions as a result of the vivid one hour discussion:

  1. It is important that cultural policy research is visible on local level. How do we use local media to make our work disseminated: both through conventional and non-conventional online media (social networks, web 2.0 tools, etc.) is important. Policy research is useful when it has an applicable element/s.
  2. The level of policy formulation, development and application is different in different countries. It is important to realize at which “cycle of policy development” a country is before judging is a policy document, article or research useful or not.
  3. Having a legal framework does not mean having a well elaborated cultural policy. This is only one part of the overall policy-development.
  4. Civil society organizations have an important role to play for all lobbying and advocacy efforts to apply a participatory approach to policy making. Cultural actors have to be active contributors to the overall policy-making process at local and national level. Experts and professionals in culture need to elaborate good ideas in a consulting mode, which can further help shaping, changing and improving cultural policy.
  5. Policy-making is a complex process, and not a simple one. It needs setting up “strategies for research” and universities, research institutions and other knowledge-based bodies are the one to work on this process, together with all local stakeholders.
  6. Communities and audiences need to also be involved in policy-making through surveys to set up policy objectives in an open collaborative manner. It is important to elaborate a local cultural policy in a flexible way-to be able to incorporate future goals and not to be rigid.
  7. Culture and arts has to be part of policy formulation and development in other fields: e.g. education, social sphere, environment, health care etc.
  8. Researchers have to contribute to the strategic visions at local level, helping for maximizing the utilization of the local resources, and at the same time-examining local needs. Much more field studies and surveys among local communities should be done to understand where their future expectations are in terms of development of arts and culture in a specific city or region.
  9. The “rebranding of a city” is a popular concept nowadays: and culture and arts has an important role to play in this process. Many cities and regions of cities look at how to use arts and artistic activities to revitalize abandoned areas, refresh the city life, and motivate citizens to work, live and create there.
  10. Cultural policies of a city should reflect also the need of young artists to create and disseminate their works of art online. Online technologies certainly change the way we create, and government support for artistic projects at all levels should consider these digital changes. We need more research on how policies and new technologies are connected (or not) on a city-level.
  11. Young researchers often face difficulty in finding the right “language” with policy-makers who have been in the field for many years and use concepts and tools not that relevant to the changing realities.

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Initiated in 2006 by the ECF and managed since 2008 by ENCATC, the Young Cultural Policy Research Forum has proven to be over the years an ideal occasion for young cultural researchers to expand their network and explore new cooperation opportunities as well as publishing possibilities.

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Photos:  Julius Töyrylä

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