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Participation is its own reward
Empowering citizens from the bottom up

Cultural expression empowers and energises both individuals and groups. In many cases the quality of the art is less important than the impact of participation on people’s lives. For many governments, especially at city level where the relationship with citizens is more direct, ensuring that as many people as possible engage in cultural activities has become a priority.

Inevitably this has policy implications. Ensuring that all citizens can participate in cultural opportunities, regardless of where they live or how much they earn, often requires active intervention. And there seems to be something of a virtuous circle when it comes to engaging with cultural activities. Those who have taken part when young are far more likely to continue the habit in later life. Those who have never had the opportunity are more likely to think cultural activity is just ‘not for them.’

Our Transformational Cultural Projects Report gathers a collection of case studies on how cities have increased participation in artistic practice 
or cultural expression.

  • Los Angeles’ Arts for All campaign provides high-quality, comprehensive, sequential arts education for LA County’s 1.6 million students.
  • London’s Big Dance project
 has grown far beyond its original remit. With simultaneous dance performances across 25 nations, it is now 
the world’s biggest collective public dance initiative that brings dance back into communities.
  • Tokyo’s Roppongi Art Night lowers barriers to public participation by providing mostly free, all-night activities, including Art Night School sessions exploring the creative process.

All these initiatives, which demonstrate the power of participation, are showcased in our Transformational Cultural Projects Report. Keep an eye on this blog for further case studies exploring the transformative power of culture.