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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

From Access to Participation: Cultural policy and civil renewal

In this book, Emily Keaney sets out to explore patterns of cultural participation in the UK, looking at the contribution that participation in arts and heritage activity makes to our civic life, and suggests ways in which this contribution could be increased. She focuses particularly on the worst-off communities, because they generally participate least and yet could gain most from participation.

In this book, Emily Keaney sets out to explore patterns of cultural participation in the UK, looking at the contribution that participation in arts and heritage activity makes to our civic life, and suggests ways in which this contribution could be increased. She focuses particularly on the worst-off communities, because they generally participate least and yet could gain most from participation.

From the foreword by Ben Rogers:

"The report is not saying 'cultural participation: good, passive enjoyment: bad'. Nor does it argue that all cultural policy should be directed at promoting active engagement in artistic and heritage activity. On the contrary, we acknowledge that the enjoyment of say, listening to classical music, watching a film, visiting a historic landmark or attending a lecture on architecture can be just as valuable in itself, and just as beneficial

in other respects - as more active forms of engagement. Indeed, the two tend to feed off each other. Hearing great performances can inspire people to make music themselves, a visit to a stately home can stimulate interest in one's own family history or the history of one's own locality, and so on.

Nor is the report arguing that culture produced together is always better than culture produced alone. Reading a book alone is a no less worthwhile way of spending time than playing in a band or taking part in an archaeological dig. What we are saying is that cultural policy - and public policy, more generally - needs to become more sensitive to these different forms of cultural activity. It needs to think more clearly about the possible benefits and costs, and to have a better understanding of when to use the right tools for the right job - and how to use them."