Global Cultural Governance Policy

Authored by: Nancy Duxbury , M. Sharon Jeannotte

The Ashgate Research Companion to Planning and Culture

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409422242
eBook ISBN: 9781315613390
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042167


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Tracing the bridges – both theoretical and practical – between the instruments and mechanisms of global cultural governance and cultural planning practices at the local level is both stimulating and frustrating. Stimulating, because there appear to be growing links between what happens on the ground in cities and communities and what happens in forums such as UNESCO, the World Bank and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). Frustrating, because these links are often indirect, the paths are usually circuitous and the degrees of influence are highly dependent upon place-specific contexts and cultural politics at the local level. Three main dynamics can be observed to be at play:

International agencies attempt to reach out to the local level through particular strategies and programmes. UNESCO is the most dominant player here, although public and private foundations that operate internationally are also very active (see below).

Individual cities find international ‘designations’ or relationships attractive – both for their symbolic value and the distinction conveyed, as well as for the financial rewards that frequently ensue. In this type of dynamic, the moral authority of the international agency is seen as a means of enhancing the municipality’s reputation and prestige.

Locally based networks of municipalities organizing collectively (for example, United Cities and Local Governments) strive to influence global cultural policies, while also using the knowledge-sharing and collective capacities of the network to support local actions and strategies. This dynamic also encompasses glocalization actions based on city-to-city relations and cooperation and anchored in the work of local governments, NGOs and international institutions (Savir 2003).

These dynamics, systems and networks are mediated by national and sub-national levels of government, which sometimes reinforce the moral authority or moral suasion of global actors through other types of governance instruments – regulation, grants and subsidies, organizational or capacity-building, and (more rarely) privatization and taxation. They may also be influenced by national or sub-national networks and initiatives.

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