Finding the sweet spot: critiquing a cultural ecosystems approach to civic cultural strategy making

Victoria Barker, Jennie Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper contributes to debates about how cities create resilient systems for making, re-making and maintaining representations of culture. Our case traces how collaborative festival production implicitly created an infrastructure founded on shared values. This was formalised into city cultural policy using an ecosystem framework, which institutionalised these values, and meant that the ecosystem became partial, excluding creative commercial and community organisations, city residents from diverse backgrounds, and influential non-city bodies. Using the same model to analyse the strategy making process, we argue that this framework can only develop resilience where there is explicit inclusion of the diversity of the city’s cultural interests. This diversity is central to resilient ecosystems, and whilst this framework may offer more inclusive strategy approaches, it also decentralises ownership and leadership. We ask – is there a ‘sweet spot’ for resilient and inclusive cultural policy between centralised strategy and a laissez-faire approach?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-292
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cultural Economy
Issue number3
Early online date3 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Festivals
  • Cultural Policy
  • Cultural Ecosystem
  • resilience
  • Cities


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