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Values and assumptions in the concept of cultural leadership.

Price, Jonathan; Harris, Paul; Douglas, Anne


Jonathan Price

Paul Harris

Anne Douglas


Cultural leadership is still a young concept in cultural policy and academic study. Emerging as a sectoral concern in the UK around 2002, its early development as both practice and discourse took place during a time of notable growth and optimism for the cultural sector, despite being rooted in a perceived crisis of institutional management. It has developed into a training and development agenda of international significance. Changes in economic and political circumstances over the past three years have dramatically altered the context in which cultural leaders operate. This is to some extent reflected in the terminological shift towards resilience in recent initiatives. However, the largely economistic foundation of cultural leadership discourse remains unchallenged, with a continuing emphasis on achieving well-run cultural businesses and sustainable structures. This paper reconsiders cultural leadershipŸs history as a live topic in the policy arena and questions the sufficiency of the values which continue to underpin it. It argues that the key site of crisis for cultural leaders has shifted from organisational governance to the social, ethical and aesthetic demands of an emerging political era, the nature of which cultural leaders must themselves play a role in shaping. These issues are explored through interviews with artists, producers and cultural activists, while the assumptions of cultural leadership discourse are considered with reference to key literature and research. A more complex and critical approach to cultural leadership is proposed, demanding dynamic responses from policy makers and practitioners alike.

Start Date Jul 18, 2013
Publication Date Dec 31, 2014
Print ISSN 2188-1111
Publisher New Publisher Required
Article Number 049
Pages 398-412
Series ISSN 2188-1111
Institution Citation PRICE, J., HARRIS, P. and DOUGLAS, A. 2013. Values and assumptions in the concept of cultural leadership. In Proceedings of the 1st European conference on arts and humanities (ECAH 2013), 18-21 July 2013, Brighton, UK. Nagoya: International Academic Forum [online], paper number 049, pages 398-412. Available from:
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