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 researchers 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.
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:
- Faith and Culture
- Integrating the Environment
- Civic, Cultural and Business Partnerships
- Volunteering, Wellbeing and Civic Pride
- Policing, Culture and Community: WM Police as City of Culture Partners
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:
- Innovations in Economic Impact Assessment and Future Directions
- Social Value Creation and Measurement in the Cultural Sector
- Reasons to Co-create
- Addressing Cultural and Other Inequalities at Scale
- Maximising and Measuring the Value of Heritage in Place
- Measuring the Impact of Arts and Culture on Wellbeing
- Building Trust in Policing Through Arts Collaboration
Towards a Research-informed Approach
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.
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.
In addition to the research activities and papers that were commissioned, either by the Coventry City of Culture Trust or funded projects, further UK CoC 2021 independent research has taken place.
An study, published in August 2022, 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.
In February 2023, the Key Cities network, which represents 27 urban cities/centres, published Culture and Place in Britain. The report calls for a more inclusive approach to stimulating the economy and highlighting a link between low cultural engagement and deprivation.
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.