Cultural Democracy and Cultural Policy

Steven Hadley and Eleonora Belfiore

"Contemporary articulations of, and engagements with, the ideas of cultural democracy must both reconcile themselves with the nuanced and semi-documented history of cultural democracy and the significant macro-level shifts in economic, technological and social fields which have made an imperative of the need to reassess these arguments.

"The question then arises as to both if, and how, cultural policy scholars, arts managers and practitioners should find ways to act upon both the historical base and the potential futures of cultural democracy. Historical research may provide the foundation for the development of a theory of cultural democracy in relation to the issues of cultural authority and normative allocation of cultural value. This would require the theoretical development of a renewed concept of cultural democracy that acknowledges and addresses the social, cultural and economic changes that have taken place since its first formulation in the 1970s. An historically informed yet present- and future-oriented theoretical elaboration of cultural democracy for twenty-first century British culture and society would need to revise, regenerate and re-fashion a conceptual understanding of what “cultural democracy” might mean and look like in the present historical moment. A politics of recognition sensitive to issues of class would be the necessary accompaniment to a politics of distribution in struggles for equality and fairness. There can be no true exploration of cultural democracy without the acknowledgement that hierarchies of cultural value have always been, and always will be, imbricated in questions of power and authority: any future research agenda that disregards this connection will fail to make a contribution to both scholarship and to the encouragement of reflexive creative practice."

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