26 Nov 2018

The value of Cultural Relations in societies in transition

How effective are cultural relations? Can their value be measured? How can they best support sustainable change in societies under pressure?

Following a research project commissioned by the British Council and the Goethe-Institut, the joint report “Culture in an age of uncertainty: the value of cultural relations in societies in transition” aims to give a better understanding of the impact and value of cultural relations. How cultural relations can support societies experimenting social changes?

Measuring the positive impact and effectiveness of cultural relations is what the Cultural Value Project tried to achieve by publishing a series of reports. More particularly, this report focuses on case studies of British and German cultural relations activities in Egypt and Ukraine. This report summaries those findings before discussing their implications for international cultural relations organisations and policymakers in the field.

Although it varies depending on the beneficiaries, it appears that the following benefits of enhanced cultural relations are particularly appreciated:

  • Better dialogue between peoples, countries, and cultures
  • Greater engagement with overseas public, enhanced connectivity, better outreach
  • The acquisition of new skills
  • Networking opportunities
  • Funding opportunities

Cultural relations may not reduce conflicts directly, but can contribute to doing so by:

  • Improving dialogue between different people, regions, and countries
  • Offering safe spaces for culture
  • Strengthening civil society organisations and independent cultural sectors
  • Addressing conflict rather than avoiding it, and thereby managing tensions between, for example, independent and state actors
  • Having a highly symbolic value simply by their visible presence

See the full report here