Cultural policies address fundamental questions of artistic expression, cultural participation, and social relations, as well as power structures, distribution of resources, and democracy.  In debates on cultural policies, whether relating to funding models or criteria for the awarding of fellowships or prizes, basic questions of justice, equality, diversity, inclusion/exclusion, and artistic freedom are also always at stake.

In our research, we adopt a transdisciplinary perspective on different facets of cultural policies. We explore sociocultural, economic, and political conditions, as well as the implications of cultural policy strategies, such as how cultural policies shape artists’ working conditions or access to cultural offers and how they influence social and cultural life more broadly. In particular, our research focuses on the importance of cultural policies to ensure the fair distribution of resources and opportunities for artists, cultural managers and other persons working in the cultural field. Such policies (e.g. fair pay) are especially crucial to securing satisfactory working conditions in the arts and culture and promoting diverse cultural and social values produced and represented by artists of different backgrounds and art forms.

Another area of focus concerns the relationship between cultural policies and globalization. We are especially interested in how cultural policy models are spread transnationally, how they are reconfigured or translated in global cultural activities and exchanges, how such policies interact with cultural values and practices in different parts of the world, and how they contribute to shaping and reshaping global cultural regimes. In these contexts, we also explore what role international organizations such as UNESCO play in relation to cultural policies.

Furthermore, questions of social inequality and global asymmetries in the mobility of artists and the (im)possibility of participation in different art worlds and cultural practices are central. In this light, we adopt an intersectional perspective and address questions of diversity and (in)equality among migrant artists and audiences relating to their gender, class, ethnicity/race, citizenship, age, and sexuality. More specifically, we investigate questions such as what motivates (or forces) artists to leave their countries of origin and pursue their lives elsewhere, how migrant artists and their art works are perceived, and how their conditions are defined in their countries of destination. An additional focus of our research is the interplay between cultural policies and gender equality policies or youth policies, as well as systems of governance and different cultural policy instruments implemented in this regard.

A further important theme is the study of (historical or present-day) cultural policies of authoritarian regimes, totalitarian propaganda and attacks on and threats to artistic freedom. By the same token, we are interested in initiatives at the intersection of cultural policy and human rights advocacy to promote and protect artists who are persecuted for their work. Both these areas of focus are motivated by the theoretical and practical interests in the possibility of emancipatory and inclusive cultural policies.

Undoubtedly, the fields of cultural policy mirror complexities which exist throughout our society. Cultural policies are determined through interactions and struggles across stakeholders with different interests and agendas (from governments to artists, civil actors, business sectors, etc.) and the consequences of these policies are practiced and observed in (almost) all parts of a society. To investigate these complex interrelations, our research brings together different disciplinary approaches from cultural studies, cultural institution studies, cultural management studies, and cultural economics. In doing so, we aim to provide evidence-based reflection on cultural-political and socioeconomic causes and consequences and thus to participate in endeavors aimed at counteracting social inequality in the arts and cultural spheres.

Involved researchers:

Seo Young Cho

Lisa Gaupp

Tatjana Nikolić

Andrea Glauser