Research and Future Cities of Culture

Towards a Research-Informed Approach report, published June 2022


UK Cities of Culture are invaluable sites of cultural inquiry: research and evaluation provide evidence of ‘what works’, from different perspectives, as well as capturing unintended outcomes and learning from less successful aspects of the delivery plan.

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 promotes a research-led approach to how culture might lead to impacts that address the specific needs of a place and its diverse communities.  A key driver for the UK City of Culture programme is to invest in places that have a clear ambition and evidenced plan for culture-led city transformation. The bidding process itself produces benefits for shortlisted as well as title cities and regions.

From accounts of lived experiences and hyperlocal cultural impacts, to large scale social and economic benefits and increased civic pride, research and evaluation can enhance the understanding of the conditions for success and sustainability of the UK City of Culture programme.

The review includes a series of interim proposals to drive a more strongly research-informed approach to the UK City of Culture programme. The Appendices to the review give an overview of geo-demographic and other data for four rounds of short-listed and title cities and regions.

Further information is available on the related insights article entitled Research is Central to City of Culture.


This report was published as part of the UK Cities of Culture Project and commissioned by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The authors were Professor Jonothan Neelands, Professor Jacqueline Hodgson, Mark Scott, all University of Warwick, Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, University of the Arts London, and Andrew Dickson, Director Culture Creativity and Place.

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