Thanks to the University of Hull Alumni Fund I received support to attend the Cultural transformations conference, which focused on the evaluation of Hull City of Culture 2017. The conferenced asked What’s next? and focused on the learning points from the evaluation of Hull 2017. This may seem like a bit of a segway from my interests – but it really wasn’t! My thesis focuses on the Brynmor Jones Library, one of the venues for 2017. Culture, the art gallery and the exhibitions we hosted also emerged as themes within my data. Furthermore, I am a massive geography nerd, and the talk of culture, place, economics, and impact on something so spatially bound is fundamentally human geography.
Instead of boring you all with paragraph after paragraph of text, I’ve decided to share the raw notes from four of the sessions. These notes represent an eclectic representation of what different keynotes, speakers and presenters said, also representing the debate and questions along the way. By its very nature, what I present, how I phrase it and how I connect it together perhaps is the best representation of my thoughts.
Local Identities, City Image, and Pride
This session made me one happy geographer! I loved reflecting on the issues of image and place at the city level and how they are reflected within my own thesis at the scale of a building (the library!).
Economic Vitality, Equity, and Sustainability
It’s always hard to tie figures and finances from a series of mega-events to wider socio-economic impacts – but it was certainly interesting to see some possible correlations emerge. When looking at economic development in such a bounded space it couldn’t be anything but strongly geographically related.
Wellbeing, Social Capital, and Learning
This session beautifully made the case for the link between wellbeing and culture as well as learning and culture. In particular, I found the need to evaluate not just individual impact but the impact on groups and communities particularly important. This session also made a staunch defense of qualitative research but in particular the need for such research to expand beyond narrative alone. As someone using quite innovative methods myself, this certainly chimed with my experience.
Can Culture Bring Us Together?
This session had some great debate within it. Funnily enough, there were plenty of people suggesting culture (in some way) can bring people together, but the devil is always in the detail huh!? We could certainly say culture does build civic identities, strengthen communities and improve individual wellbeing. Phew!
Beyond this conference, I should note my significant lack of blogging is very linked to thesis progress. I need to go now and lock myself away to do some more writing. My thesis is due March and hopefully, I can get blogging back soon! I certainly feel like I need to provide some updates on my progress – but in short, it’s good!