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UK Cities and Capitals of Culture evaluation reports: a quick guide

Are you interested in the evaluations of large-scale projects, and want to delve into the detail of specific events or topics?

This quick reference guide signposts the key evaluation reports from recent UK Cities and Capitals of Culture. It will be of interest for academics, researchers and those exploring the evaluations of place-based projects in more depth.

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Opera North's As You Are in the County Arcade, Leeds 2023. Photo: Justin Slee.

UK Cities and Capitals of Culture evaluation reports: a quick guide

A large amount of evaluation material has been produced for the recent UK Capitals and Cities of Culture. This guide outlines the key reports, research articles and studies for those exploring this topic in more depth.

For an analysis of the evaluations, including learning points and audio interviews, take a look at the following resources:

European Capitals of Culture

Since 2019, awarded cities have been tasked with carrying out their own evaluations.

The most recent report, Ex-post evaluation of the 2019 European capitals of culture (2019) is from when Matera (Italy) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria) held the title.

You can read more about the European Capitals of Culture, including all previous monitoring and evaluation reports, on the European Commission website. An additional searchable archive of reports can be found on the Culture Next website

Glasgow 1990

The main report is Monitoring Glasgow 1990 (1991), the final output of the monitoring study carried out by independent consultant John Myerscough for Glasgow City Council, Strathclyde Regional Council and Scottish Enterprise.

It is available as a PDF on the Understanding Glasgow website, run by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

The findings of the 10 year legacy evaluation programme, conducted by the Centre for Cultural Policy Research (CCPR) at the University of Glasgow across 3 years, are summarised in this paper by Beatriz Garcia titled Deconstructing the City of Culture: The Long-term Cultural Legacies of Glasgow 1990, originally published in the Journal of Urban Studies (2005) and now hosted on the Culture Next website.

Liverpool 2008

The evaluation of Liverpool 2008 was undertaken by the Impacts 08 research programme, who produced 40 reports. The reports cover the period from 2000 to 2009 which includes the pre-bid period, the bidding and nomination stages, the lead up to the event, the year itself and beyond.

Additional reports are available to download on the Impacts 08 website, covering the following themes:

Access and participation

Economy and tourism

Cultural vibrancy

Image and perceptions

Governance and delivery

Background papers

There is also a series of background papers which includes literature reviews and research methodologies which informed the research, external papers and ‘in-progress’ reports.

The Liverpool 2008 evaluation was followed by a longitudinal research programme, Impacts 18, run by the Institute of Cultural Capital, to assess the lasting impact based on a number of themes. A final report from this programme has not been published.

From 2009 – 2010, the Impacts 08 team partnered with several other European Capital of Culture (ECoC) hosts to develop an international framework of evaluation best practice, which led to the first European Commission guidelines on future ECoC evaluations. You can read more about the project on Impacts 08 website, and the full report by the European Capitals of Culture Policy Group; An international framework of good practice in research and delivery of the European Capital of Culture programme

UK Cities of Culture

The UK City of Culture programme was developed by the UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and launched in 2009. Cities are responsible for their own evaluation and there is not a set framework or methodology.

Access the latest documents and news about the UK Cities of Culture programme on gov.uk.

Derry-Londonderry 2013

Evaluation reports were published by urban regeneration company Ilex and Derry City and Strabane District Council. There are also additional videos and articles produced by research centres which you may find of interest.

Main reports

Additional information

Hull 2017

Two reports on the preliminary outcomes were produced in March 2018 by the Culture, Place and Policy Institute at the University of Hull. These were followed by their final report in 2019, which was revised in 2021.

 

Additional information

Coventry 2021

A range of evaluation information, reports and videos have been published from Coventry 2021. The final evaluation report is available at Coventry21evaluation.info. This website also includes a searchable research database. The core monitoring and evaluation team also produced six progress reports which focused on different themes, an interim report and a supplementary report.

 

Focus studies

The main report is accompanied by a series of focus studies on the following areas:

Additional evaluation reports

Report/ programme Focus area
(Animated) Reflections on Evaluating the UK City of Culture Animation of reflections from the monitoring and evaluation team about the process of evaluating Coventry 2021
Arts and Homelessness in Coventry programme Role of arts and creativity for those experiencing, or who have experienced, homelessness
Caring City programme Addressing issues within seldom-heard communities, such as food poverty, immigration, environmental action, homelessness and loneliness.
Cultural Engagement and Wellbeing The links between engagement with cultural activities (as part of Coventry 2021) and wellbeing
Economic Impact Assessment Study on the economic activity and impact to the city for Coventry 2021
Estimated Audience Engagement for Coventry 2021 Annex Two, Indigo Ltd (2023) Exploring audience engagement statistics
Events programme A number of events have been documented which also contain useful evaluation information, e.g. Art for the People: Citizens’ Assembly (2021) recording and Citizen’s Assembly Recommendations report; Cultural Policy and Evaluation Summit Summary & Programme Revisited report (2021); and video of ‘Our Year
Green Futures programme Programme focusing on local green spaces, nature and natural heritage
Household, Audience and Sentiment Survey Analysis Annex Three, Culture Counts / Warwick Business School (2023). Impact on local population, cultural engagement and the regeneration of the city
Love Coventry programme Programme looking at community and citizen’s stories
Social Value Assessment Study on social return on investment
Traditional and Digital Broadcasting Evaluation study of the broadcasting that took place as part of the City of Culture year.
Transforming Leadership programme Programme focusing on the leadership of (and diversity within) the creative and cultural industries
Verbatim Theatre – an Innovative Method for Policymaking Report detailing how Headphone Verbatim Theatre (HVT) was used to capture people’s experiences and feed into evaluation of Coventry 2021

Related Research

These are organisations and research networks that host resources directly relating to the evaluation of UK Cities and Capitals of Culture.

Warwick UK Cities of Culture Project

The Warwick UK Cities of Culture Project explores how research and evaluation can enhance the understanding of the conditions for success and sustainability of the UK City of Culture programme.

The main report is The UK Cities of Culture Project: Towards a Research-informed Approach (2022). Their Future Trends series presents an analysis of current and future trends based around key topics.

Cities of Culture Research Network

The Cities of Culture Research Network was funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and operated from 2019 until 2021.

In October 2023 they released a special issue of the journal Arts & the Market titled Evaluating Cities of Culture, including a guest editorial providing a summary of all the papers.

Spirit of 2012

Spirit of 2012 is the London 2012 legacy funder, which funds projects to establish the social legacy of events in three key impact areas: sport and physical activity; arts and culture; and volunteering and youth social action.

Their projects include:

Shared Cultural Futures – a partnership project between Leeds 2023 (an independent year of culture) and Bradford 2025 (UK City of Culture 2025) to facilitate knowledge exchange and mutual learning, as well as engage key stakeholders in both cities and the broader arts and culture sector of West Yorkshire. The final report of Shared Cultural Futures will be available through Spirit of 2012 in late spring 2024.

Events Data Aggregation research (2023) – conducted by FRY Creative, this report brings together audience data from Birmingham 2022 Festival (which took place over six months as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games), Coventry 2021 City of Culture and Unboxed: Creativity in the UK.

Key Cities – a national network of 27 cities that represents urban living in the UK. Their events and research initiatives aim to focus the national policy agenda on cities. Their report Culture and Place in Britain (2023), published in partnership with Arts Council England, reviews culture policy and data in urban areas across the UK and calls for improved monitoring and data collection to support investment in culture.

Please note: All links are correct at time of publishing. This reference guide only links to reports that are currently publicly available. If you spot a broken link, please let us know.



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Published: 2024
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