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Cultural Intermediaries Connecting CommunitiesRevisiting Approaches to Cultural Engagement$
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Phil Jones, Beth Perry, and Paul Long

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781447344995

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447344995.001.0001

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Participatory budgeting for culture: handing power to communities?

Participatory budgeting for culture: handing power to communities?

Chapter:
(p.133) Eight Participatory budgeting for culture: handing power to communities?
Source:
Cultural Intermediaries Connecting Communities
Author(s):

Phil Jones

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447344995.003.0009

The concept of participatory budgeting was developed as a means of bypassing corrupt local elites and creating better governance in developing countries. Applied in the global north, it attempts to give power back to communities to set spending priorities within their neighbourhoods. This chapter examines two attempts at participatory budgeting for the arts in Birmingham – the city council’s Arts Champions scheme and a participatory action research project led by the author. Two key problems highlighted by the case studies are identified. First, funders being reluctant to hand full control to neighbourhoods over how spending is undertaken, with a tendency to push communities toward the funders’ spending priorities. Second, and related to this, is a lack of capacity at neighbourhood level to move beyond the “ideas generation” stage, toward having the confidence to design and commission cultural projects to realise those ideas. This speaks to wider problems in deprived communities – notably education, skills and confidence – that cannot be tackled simply by adding cultural activity.

Keywords:   Cultural intermediation, Participatory budgeting, Arts funding, Participatory action research, Community empowerment

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