As Coventry embarks on its year-long celebration of the title of UK City of Culture, a team of researchers at the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies at University of Warwick will work together with residents in the city to unearth the impact of the title on their lives and work. Our study will address how the City of Culture’s transformational vision for the city of Coventry and its residents is enacted, lived with, and experienced by residents in key positions within the city’s civic, cultural, and business communities. While the city celebrates the title though events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacle, we will unearth in-depth stories of impact for three cross sectoral partnership networks. More specifically we hope to identify the impact of the title in strengthening these partnerships and assess the value and sustainability of these partnerships beyond the City of Culture year.
The study forms a component of the Monitoring and Evaluation activity being undertaken by Coventry City of Culture Trust to understand the impact of this mega event on a variety of aspects of civic, cultural and business activities in the city. Acknowledging that the broader Monitoring and Evaluation programme is quantitative data-rich we will, while drawing on these resources where appropriate, privilege methods that foreground narrative and experience in evidence gathering. We are in the process of negotiating access with potential partners and protagonists away from the larger city institutions to ensure that diverse voices are included in articulating the overall impact of the title on the city.
Our aim is to include as participants existing networks and communities of practice relating to the city's civic, cultural, and business life which have a life that precedes the City of Culture year and which might also be expected to extend beyond it. These are groups upon which the City of Culture can be expected to have a material impact, but which will have significantly different expectations of the City of Culture programme.
The project draws on the combined expertise and experience of four scholars from the Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies and the team members are excited to have the opportunity to bring together a range of individual research interests to this project. Each researcher will take responsibility for leading an identified strand of work under the civic, cultural, and business themes of the study. Dr. Heidi Ashton who specialises in research with creative workers and their livelihoods will lead on the business theme; Dr. Jonathan Vickery will extend his research interests in civic development in Coventry; while Dr. David Wright will build on his investigations into cultural providers and participation by leading on the cultural theme of the study. Dr. Vishalakshi Roy who is a cultural evaluation specialist will provide overall direction and oversee the identified strands of research.
The researcher team approach this as a collaborative, participant-led, project in which qualitative research evidence gathered at strategic points throughout the UK City of Culture year tells an unfolding ‘insider’ story of the expectations, experiences and effects of the programme and its role in re-imagining the future of Coventry.
Dr Vishalakshi Roy, Assistant Professor, Centre for Cultural and Media Policy Studies