The discourse of cultural leadership.
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PRICE, J.F.R. 2016. The discourse of cultural leadership. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
Cultural leadership has been a key concept in cultural policy and training since 2002. Most closely associated with the UK’s Clore Leadership Programme, it has been developed through various courses and initiatives domestically and internationally, initially as a response to crises of financial management and governance within major cultural institutions. This emergence of cultural leadership coincided with growing political interest in the social benefits of the arts and the economic potential of the creative industries. However, the concept is rarely clearly defined or critically analysed, while the political and economic environment in which the cultural sector operates has been transformed since the term was coined. This research investigates the evolution of cultural leadership as a discursive formation in these contexts. It traces the short history of the term itself and situates it within longer trajectories of cultural policy. Through critical discourse analysis the research questions the relationship between ‘cultural leadership’ and ‘cultural leaders’, asking who creates the circumstances in which art is produced and culture shaped. Leadership itself is reconsidered theoretically as an aspect of political action. Detailed interviews with influential cultural sector professionals are analysed as an empirical complement to literature around cultural history, policy and artistic leadership. The analysis reconfigures cultural leadership as a dynamic process arising from relationships between creative practice and social, political and organisational development. Outlining the respective roles of government, the public and the sector, it proposes a framework for understanding leadership through the interplay of action and influence within and beyond the cultural workforce. Indicating that cultural leadership has a vital critical role to play in democratic society, the research argues for more effective engagement between sectoral leaders, including artists, and questions of policy and cultural value. Its findings are significant for the future study and development of cultural leadership nationally and internationally.