As the UK prepares for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, it is worth revisiting this detailed study on Cultureshock, the North West cultural programme for the Machester 2002 Commonwealth Games. This work was the first detailed evaluation of a Commonwealth Games cultural programme and it set precedent for future Games editions, as well as providing Manchester cultural stakeholders with key arguments, data and recommendations that informed the establishment and successful launch of the Manchester International Festival.

This Study was commissioned by the main partners of Cultureshock, including the Arts Council of England and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The project was undertaken within the Centre for Cultural Policy Research, University of Glasgow. It was directed by Dr Beatriz Garcia (CCPR lead Research Fellow at the time), with contributions from Christine Hamilton (CCPR Director) and Carmen Bota (CCPR researcher).

Access the final report and summary reports here.

The main research strands and final outcomes are outlined below.

Research Framework

The Study involved an evaluation of Cultureshock, the Commonwealth Games North West Cultural Programme as well as the assessment of the eleven individual projects making up the cultural strand of the Spirit of Friendship Festival (SoF).

The main purpose of this project was to inform partners about:

  • appropriate mechanisms for future investment in International Arts and Cultural Programming
  • benefits/pitfalls of hosting a cultural programme across a region/city
  • the value of investment into research and development
  • future templates/models for the other major arts and sports events in this region or elsewhere in the UK

This work was separated in two main areas:

Strand 1: Study of Cultureshock and Spirit of Friendship structures of management and design rationale:

This involved the assessment of the suitability of the programmes’ working agendas (mission statements, programme design and contents) and an assessment of the effectiveness of the structures established to manage and implement them (team work, funding abilities, relationships).

Strand objectives:

  1. To assess the suitability of the programmes’ design format (ie. ‘strengths and weaknesses of the programme itself’ – mission statements and main contents)
  2. To assess the effectiveness of the programmes’ management and promotional structures (ie. ‘strengths and weaknesses of Cultureshock/SoF as a delivery mechanisms for an arts programme’)
  3. To assess the effectiveness of the programme’s community relations structure in relation to social inclusion (ie. ‘ Cultureshock/SoF’s ability to work with the arts as a tool for social inclusion’)

Strand 2: Study of Cultureshock and SoF immediate impacts and potential legacies:

This involved a measurement of how the programmes have affected their environment: from individual audiences to existing partners, the arts community and respective host locations in a broader sense. Here, it is of particular interest to consider the context in which Cultureshock and the Spirit of Friendship festival are located, that is, the celebration of a major international sporting event.

Strand objectives:

  1. To determine the impact of presenting a major arts programme alongside an international sporting event  
    • on event audiences: impacts on experience, perceptions, values
    • on key investors and local hosts: economic impacts
    • on arts groups and institutions: impacts on art form development
  2. To determine whether Cultureshock has changed people’s perceptions of the Commonwealth
  3. To determine the value and sustainability of the programmes’ International Partnerships
  4. To identify other potential legacies in the short, medium and/or long term

Research Outcomes

This study allowed identification of appropriate mechanisms for future investment in International Arts and Cultural Programming by assessing the effectiveness of the programme’s management and promotion structures, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the programme as a delivery mechanisms for the arts.

The benefits/pitfalls of hosting a cultural programme across a region/city emerged from the study of the opportunities and constraints presented to the programme and the measurement of resulting impacts on audiences, investors, the arts community and the host city and region in general. Relevant information also emerged from studying the ability of the programme to utilise the arts as a tool for social inclusion.

Evidence of the value of investment in research and development was provided throughout the process to undertake this project. The final report specifies the key benefits and challenges of the study and suggests alternative ways of undertaking research to gather information about aspects that have not been explored in this study

Information and recommendations about future templates/models for major arts and sports events in the North West or elsewhere in the UK were provided by a combination of all findings associated with the programme rationale, management and promotion structures and potential legacies

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