How can we safeguard public parks?


The Understanding Everyday Participation project (UEP) and The Whitworth hosted a workshop on March 22, 2017.

The event Valuing Parks and their Communities, centred on the values and practices of community engagement in public parks. It considered the recommendations of the recent CLG Select Committee on the Future of Public Parks, which identified issues concerning the competing demands and inequalities of access amongst different user groups.  Participants discussed these in the light of recent University of Manchester research and the work of cultural institutions and community groups. Attendees included representatives from Manchester City Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, community groups and the National Trust.

During the afternoon participants considered the co-production of a guide to good practice to inform community engagement and sustainable management models for public parks.

News video

Research Briefing

Policy blog: Dr Abigail Gilmore, who Chaired the event, discusses related issues in her recent blog: The Space to Thrive: Public parks and everyday participation.

UEP Special issues ‘Cultural Trends’


We are delighted to announce the publication of Understanding Everyday Participation’s second special issue of Cultural Trends. This issue focuses on the situated nature and territorial dynamics of participation. It contains six main articles that explore – in different ways and various contexts – how everyday cultural practices and understandings of their value both shape and are influenced by place, space and locality.

Journal contents:

  • Editorial: Everyday participation and cultural value in place; Andrew Miles and Lisanne Gibson (publication expected 6/02/17)


The first Understanding Everyday Participation special issue

The first Understanding Everyday Participation special issue of Cultural Trends contains articles by Eleonora Belfiore, Jill Ebrey, Lisanne Gibson and Delyth Edwards, Andrew Miles and Mark Taylor, which set out some of our early findings. It also frames the central propositions of Understanding Everyday Participation. The research is concerned with the orientation of cultural policy and state-funded cultural programming, cultural participation, and value.

UEP argues that cultural policy and state-funded cultural programming is in need of a radical overhaul, beyond the orthodoxy of cultural engagement approaches which are based on a narrow definition (and understanding) of participation  – and which obscure the significance of other forms of cultural participation situated locally in the everyday realm.

The politics of cultural measurement – a review


Here Susan Oman reposts her review of Making culture count: the politics of cultural measurement, edited by Lachlan MacDowall, Marnie Badham, Emma Blomkamp and Kim Dunphy, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, ISBN 978-1-137-46457-6.

making culture countMaking culture count: The politics of cultural measurement focuses on the ever-present issues of measurement and meaning in articulating value for cultural policy practices and research. The book is split into three sections. Part I offers “Critical accounts of the history and politics of cultural measurement”, while Part II is called “Making culture count in political contexts and discourses” and the final section presents a number of “Critical and creative approaches to cultural measurement practice”. These sections are inevitably as much crosscutting themes as they are expedient subdivisions to an ambitious 300 pages of contributions from over 20 authors.

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Participation in local mining communities


Sarah Hughes shares insights from her UEP PhD research in her post, Understanding cultural participation and value in former coalmining communities in and around Barnsley

One of the aims of the Understanding Everyday Participation (UEP) project is to strive towards a more democratic understanding of participation.  We are exploring ways in which decisions about cultural investment are made, and how they relate to particular forms and contexts for governance, nationally and in relation to different local cultural eco-systems in England and Scotland.

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Who Goes to Museums? (and who doesn’t?)


Lisanne Gibson explains how her Museum Studies teaching intersects with the UEP project in a video of a mini lecture of her research.
WHO goes to museums TP stats

Click here for slides

The figures tell us that museum visiting has been increasing.
According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Taking Part statistics, 51.8% of adults attended a museum once, in the first Quarter of 2014/15, compared to 42.3% in 2005/06 (the year the Taking Part survey began).

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Breaking the Temple of the Culture – Well-being Relationship


Susan Oman gave her first keynote at Tate Liverpool last week. Below are some sections of the presentation and some thoughts on the plenary panel.

Culture is frequently described in terms of its relationship to well-being. Often, the implication being, that culture is only as GOOD as the quality of its attachment to well-being. Well-being is the patriarch, the most powerful and the one to do the serious work of policy, while culture is there to make us feel pretty. While playing with the ways in which the culture – well-being relationship is represented, the serious work of my provocation is to ask for a rethinking of this portrayal in order to move forward. To break not only the Temples of Culture, to cite the name of this event, but what seem to be sacred depictions of culture, as relative to well-being, in policy.

Susan Oman cuture wellbeing relationship Continue reading

Valuing Participation: The cultural and everyday activities of young people growing up in care


Lisanne Gibson and Delyth Edwards outline findings in the Valuing Participation Report, published 30 October 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 16.38.25This report describes research focusing on the participation of young people growing up in care. The research was carried out as part of the Understanding Everyday Participation- Articulating Cultural Values project. In this work we wanted to understand the ways in which the ‘facilitated’ and ‘everyday’ activities of young people are valued by them, their immediate carers, and the representatives of the corporate parent. Continue reading

Why cultural policy matters in the devolution debate

Abi Gilmore looks at why policy-making for the arts and culture is an important area when considering the implementation and impact of DevoManc

Justfest, University of Manchester Social Responsibility team

Justfest, University of Manchester Social Responsibility team

Cultural policy is often an afterthought, frequently side-lined by other policy debates on health, housing and crime reduction. When decision-making for the arts makes the news, it is usually in relation to some perceived injustice, which either falls outside of prevailing norms of what art and culture is valuable (e.g. consternations over the national follies of Lottery funding for the Millennium Dome) or fares poorly in comparisons with other policy areas which assume greater social need (e.g. funding for public art in hospitals compared with hospital beds).  Continue reading

UEP at the Global Contemporary conference

For more information and abstract from these papers, please click here.
For more information and abstract from these papers, please click here.