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AEA Consulting: The Platform

What Does 'Feasible' Mean for Cultural Infrastructure Projects Today?

by Harry Fisher-Jones, Natalia Vartapetova, Daniel Payne, Libby Ellis and Adrian Ellis

AEA's 2019 Cultural Infrastructure Index counted 101 new projects accounting for over $4.7 billion of investment. Early indicators for 2020 suggest a slightly more modest level of investment, but not significantly lower. When considering new cultural infrastructure projects, careful planning is required to establish and improve long-term efficiency and effectiveness. Today's environment has added challenging questions that need to be asked under the general rubric of 'feasibility'. The COVID-19 pandemic, climate emergency, and other societal and technological shifts are raising new questions that are equally critical to a project's success. AEA's engagement in cultural capital projects over the last 30 years has taught us many things along the way, and we believe that this moment has added additional dimensions of feasibility. 

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What Does 'Feasible' Mean for Cultural Infrastructure Projects Today? – Click to read article.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2008 © Vladsinger CC BY-SA 3.0

In Conversation With... Andrea Dempster-Chung

The Global Cultural Districts Network

Andrea Dempster-Chung, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Kingston Creative, talks about the story and future of this thriving and ‘uniquely Jamaican’ initiative, shares the keys to successful community-based cultural endeavors, and celebrates the ‘collective positive energy’ that drives Kingston Creative forward in a post-COVID-19 world.

Read the interview here

Kingston Creative

GCDN Roundtable: Hybrid Cultural Programme Models

The Global Cultural Districts Network

The COVID-19 global pandemic has irrevocably changed the cultural landscape, particularly in terms of the area of cultural programming. To explore the impact and implications on cultural programming, two informal and intimate roundtables amongst GCDN members and external experts were held on 8 and 10 December 2020. Facilitated by Greg Baeker – Director of Cultural Planning and Development in the Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi – these roundtables aimed to openly share ideas and experiences around hybrid cultural programming; that is, the shift away from purely physical/on-site cultural programming towards blended models of the physical and digital.

Read the summary and notes here


AEA Industry Reports

An overview of cultural sector research the AEA team has been reading. 

A snapshot of immediate and long-term responses to the pandemic from arts and cultural organisations in the UK from late 2020. The report highlights the deep social importance organisations carry in their local communities, five roadmaps to recovery, and scenarios moving forward. Findings indicate that in order to thrive (if not, survive), organisations will need to redefine and align their role in communities and as a socially valuable asset.

This guide provides an overview of mission-related and values-aligned investing for cultural institutions. Funding sources and investment strategies of cultural organizations continue to be scrutinized by consumers who hold the sector accountable amidst ongoing social upheaval and demands for ethical and equitable practices. A review of the potential financial and socio-environmental benefits of impact investing is presented in the context of the creative economy through case studies across universities, foundations and not-for-profits. The growing role of cultural institutions as anchors to communities require an investment agenda aligned with both long-term financial success and social responsibility.

The Digital Transformation Agenda and GLAMs

Culture 24

The nature, pace and opportunities for digital development in GLAMS -- galleries, libraries, archives and museums -- were outlined by Culture 24 across five perspectives: personal, organizational, network, sector and society. While many of the barriers to effective implementation are institution-specific, findings highlight the necessity of inter-organizational and inter-sectoral networks to improve digital literacy. Key recommendations include re-defining ‘innovation’ as adaptation of existing best practice (quality over pace), and embedding digital literacy in all aspects of the organization, from policy, funding, back-office to programming. 

Everyone is thinking about the transition to digital, so the Heritage Fund conducted a survey on the digital skills within the heritage sector. Over 4,000 respondents shared their levels of comfort and ability with different forms of technology, with the final report divided by categories such as age and role within the organization (staff vs. trustees vs. volunteers). Looking forward, there is a clear need for organizations to embed digital into their recruitment strategies and provide time for training, among other development tactics.

Preserving African American Places

National Trust for Historic Preservation

This report by the National Trust for Historic Preservation tackles the question of “how can preservation be a force for advancing equitable development and social justice in African American neighborhoods and other communities of color?”  It features a lexicon, historical overview (especially on housing and economic policies), analysis of demographic changes of prominent African American neighborhoods in 10 cities, case studies on preservation-based equitable development, and strategies for the future. 

Heritage for Inclusive Growth

The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce uses 8 case studies across the UK to explore heritage’s untapped potential for inclusive social, economic and environmental change. The report also gives a framework for heritage impact analysis and recommendations on policy integration, long-term investment, creation of quality jobs and more to create a sustainable sector. Case studies include Dundee, Scotland; St. Fagan's Museum, Cardiff; and New Anglia LEP, Norfolk and Suffolk. 

UNESCO has taken its months of global research and insight on the cultural sector’s response to COVID-19 and transformed it into this practical guide on resiliency during a crisis. It’s primarily composed of fact sheets containing measures, their benefits, their implementation methods and examples of best practice; the measures include accelerated payment of aid and subsidies and the commissioning/purchase of works.

AEA Consulting is a global firm setting the standard in strategy and planning for the cultural and creative industries.

We are known for our candid and impartial advice that draws on deep knowledge of the cultural sector as well as robust research and analytical insight.

Since 1991, we have successfully delivered more than 1,000 assignments in 35 countries, helping clients around the world plan and realize vital and sustainable cultural projects.