Guide to Cultural Policies


Cultural policies are a very complex phenomenon that resists simple and concise definitions. In order to understand them, then, several levels of complexities must be considered. First, the definition of culture itself, which has been more or less narrow over time, and still varies greatly across cultures and governmental traditions. Second, the level at which the specific policy is situated (International, national, or regional/local) and its links with other policies at higher or lower levels, within a more general agenda. Third, the explicit or implicit goal of the policy with regards to culture. Fourth, the many different actors involved. All these points combine with the view of cultural policies as an iterative process, that involves different actors in various phases of its cycle. Finally, as the field is currently expanding, attention must be paid to the way requirements and results are defined, and to the keywords mobilised within policy documents.

Key Take-aways

  • Cultural policies are a complex phenomenon, with many contextual factors influencing their characteristics.
  • The field is currently expanding, presenting new opportunities for cultural workers and involving new actors in the policy process.
  • Definitions of concepts mobilised within policy documents (e.g. requirements, key concepts, results) need to be considered carefully.


Angela Nativio is a PhD Student at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, currently working on the origins and consequences of the rising demand of reliable measurements for “social impact” within cultural policies. Her research explores the contact points between cultural production and practices of accountability, as well as the more general field of cultural policy at national and international level. She is a member of the research centre aiku – arte, impresa cultura and maclab – Laboratory for the Management of Arts and Cultures. 

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