Research & Evaluation

Group Discussion at Coventry University (Photograph: Maria Polodeanu, Reel Master Production)

The early involvement of the local universities in the UK City of Culture (UK CoC 2021), including the generation of the Performance Measurement & Evaluation Strategy, has seen a substantial effort to encourage and fund research to assess the differences that UK CoC 2021 has made to Coventry over and above the Economic Impact and Social Value assessments.

These research and evaluation efforts have involved a large variety of quantitative and qualitative studies undertaken through a range of (multi-)disciplinary perspectives and different research modes that are presented below. In many instances, researchers have worked with local people and organisations to assess the differences that UK CoC 2021 has made to Coventry.

This research, together with the dissemination of its results, has been central to the knowledge exchange process.

Focus Studies

To address outcomes identified within the Performance Measurement & Evaluation Strategy, the City of Culture Trust commissioned a series of focus studies. Teams at both Coventry University and the University of Warwick undertook independent research and produced reports that address specific themes:

Focus study research reports were critically assessed and writing was supported by the monitoring and evaluation team.

Future Trends Series

The Future Trends series discusses ways of thinking about the value of culture: the importance of research in understanding the place of culture in everyday lives, its impact on local people, society, economy and wellbeing and prosperity at large; and how this research-informed approach connects with the needs of policy making. Seven papers have been written, supported by case study evidence from UK CoC 2021: 

Transforming Leadership programme

The Transforming Leadership programme was designed to support a diverse group of established, independent and emerging leaders through a two-and-a-half-year leadership programme.

The aim was to diversify and strengthen the leadership of Coventry’s cultural organisations, museums and libraries, to help nurture a new generation of cultural entrepreneurs who would represent and reflect the city of Coventry.

Research and Future Cities of Culture

As the UK City of Culture programme matures, it is important to establish a foundation of evidence-led learning to guide future iterations and secure continuity of learning and investment. The review, published in June 2022, promotes a research-led approach to how culture might lead to impacts that address the specific needs of a place and its diverse communities.

Arts and Homelessness in Coventry

A report published in August 2022, based on a three-year study, considered Arts and Homelessness in Coventry in relation to UK CoC 2021. It examined initiatives to re-think and re-position how arts and creativity can change perceptions, policy and outcomes for those who are or have been homeless in Coventry. It centres attention on two initiatives specifically:

Verbatim Theatre: an Innovatory Method for Policymaking

The report, which introduces Headphone Verbatim Theatre (HVT), was published in April 2022.

HVT is a method of data gathering that involves a performance created solely from the words spoken by interview participants. It responds to the challenges faced by policymakers around incorporating citizen experiences in policy design and evaluation.

HVT was used to gather feedback on UK CoC 2021, which was shared during a live performance, offering an effective and emotive connection between citizens and policy makers.

Traditional and Digital Broadcasting

A report evaluating the two strands of the UK CoC 2021 broadcast programme was published in March 2023. The first strand covered traditional approaches, involving television, radio and web, with the second focusing upon digital use of social media, live streaming and podcasts.

Broadcast mentorship and training sessions provided young people in Coventry an invaluable opportunity to develop related skills, and to learn about careers in broadcasting from experts in the industry. There were also opportunities for emerging local talents to achieve their first broadcast commissions and appearances.

Key Cities: Culture and Place in Britain

In February 2023, the Key Cities network, that represents 27 urban cities/centres, published its Culture and Place in Britain report.

The report calls for a more inclusive approach to stimulating the economy and highlighting a link between low cultural engagement and deprivation. It includes comparative results of a cultural survey and makes a series of stakeholder-led recommendations, including investing in creative industries and putting culture at the heart of a renewed drive for hyper-local devolution.

Evaluating Cities and Capitals of Culture

In May 2022, an article entitled Evaluating Cities and Capitals of Culture considered that research-based evaluation should be:

  • focused on learning (not on the celebration of CoC events or on PR to this end)
  • polyvocal and inclusive of interested constituencies
  • critical, independent and resistant to boosterism, hype and any attempts at censorship.

Coventry Creates

In spring 2020, the City of Culture University Partnership funded 18 local artists to respond to, and work with, researchers from the University of Warwick and Coventry University − resulting in a wide range of innovative artworks presented through a digital exhibition.

From social sciences to arts, to science and medicine, researchers worked with artists to create artistic commissions, resulting in a Digital Exhibition in October 2020. This was updated with 12 new projects in 2021 due to funding from both universities and Arts Council England.

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