Print this Page
Print this Page

Regional and Local Cultural Policies

What is Regional and Local Cultural Policy?

Regional and Local Cultural policy is an increasingly important area of public policy-making that governs activities related to the arts and culture. Generally, this policy domain is being understood as fostering processes, legal action and institutions which promote cultural diversity and accessibility, as well as enhancing and supporting the artistic, ethnic, sociolinguistic, literary and other expressions or heritage of all people in a specific territorial area. More recently, issues of "cultural autonomy" and of "cultural branding" or promoting the socio-economic development of a city or region via highlighting cultural institutions or traditions and artistic events have gained attention among experts and policy makers. 
Regional and local cultural policies can also be seen as strategies or instruments that aim at empowering people to develop their creative talents and civic conscience, thus helping to turn the ideal of democratic societies into reality. Emerged from historical experience and political reforms over the last centuries, this concept implies "open" systems of local or regional governance in which there are realistic chances for the people, whether as majority or minority, to access decision making processes and to improve their wellbeing, both as individuals and as members of a community.

The Compendium Addressing Aspects of Regional and Local Cultural Policy

From the beginning of the Compendium project, the aspect of regional and local cultural policy has been part of the reporting presented in the national cultural policy profiles. This coverage goes beyond states with different systems of "cultural federalism" such as Austria and Germany with its Bundesländer or Belgium, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, to a certain extent also Italy, which define their cultural policy approach mainly through legal instruments, institutions and cultural activities on the regional and local levels. Consequently, regional and local cultural policies have been treated both as a transversal issue of relevance in different areas of cultural policy making and as a theme of specific sub-chapters in the Compendium country profiles. As a consequence, there are several strands of related information and data  found in various sub-sections of individual Compendium country profiles.

With the Open Compendium initiative (2008) a more concrete analysis and outlook on regional and local cultural policies was started, which led to the development of regional cultural policy profiles for the regions of Catalonia (Spain) in 2009 and the region of Perm (Russian Federation) in 2012, both of which are based on the Compendium methodology. In the same timeframe, the Compendium started to present and monitor the Intercultural Cities Index that allows to identify good governance and policies for diverse communities.

Additionally a Compendium Expert Group (CEG) on Regional Cultural Policy was created that aims to identify common themes and trends effecting regional cultural policy, and develop understanding of how regional cultural policy impacts on the national and transnational levels. The CEG intends to create in the near future some case studies that regions may find useful in considering their own policy development. 

Some of this content has been condensed into comparative / statistical tables that address e.g.: Share of Spending on Culture by Level of Government, Selected Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue Policies in Different Sectors; etc.

Together with important background documents and links to research, such information can assist governments and NGOs in their efforts to start monitoring and comparing policies and related measures that aim at enhancing regional and local cultural policy. As well, reflection is being supported in order to determine, in which way regional and local cultural polcies can play an essential role in multi-stakeholder governance processes and for the realisation sustainable democratic societies.