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The annual conference of the Association for Cultural Management 2023 will be held from 20 to 22 September at various locations in Berlin. It is being organised by the Institute for Research on Cultural Participation (IKTf) in cooperation with the Macromedia University of Applied Sciences and the University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Economics (HTW).

Cultural participation has been a central topic in cultural policy discourse as well as in the theory and practice of cultural management for over 50 years. There are many different opinions on the questions of: What do we mean by cultural participation? Who can achieve this and how? How can we measure whether the goal of cultural participation has been achieved? Gaining traction is the popular 1970s claim of “culture for everyone”. It has (once again) picked up momentum in recent years due to the distribution of power, structural exclusion and the creation of new or different means of access. Catchwords here are diversity, accessibility (barrier-free), inclusion and participation, for example.

One thing can be said for sure: The cultural sector has understood that its central responsibilities must also include efforts towards more or broader cultural participation. When regarded from the outside at least, specific measures often seem to lack a conceptual basis or a grounding in research findings, however. Rarely does the impression arise that this is about efforts that involve a real change of mindset or restructuring in terms of staff, programme and audience. At the same time, reality seems to have long overtaken the cultural sector and, thus, cultural management research. In the face of current international crises, significantly more radical strategic and operational decisions for the redesign of the cultural sector should have been adopted by now. Even a forced pause in activities during the COVID-19 pandemic rarely led to any real new direction. Depending on the definition of the terms “culture” and “participation”, cultural participation has always (also) taken place outside of cultural institutions. Now these institutions may face a legitimation crisis possibly compounded by simultaneous cultural budget cuts in the future, since the public will not attend cultural offerings at many places after the pandemic either.

It is high time we ask ourselves the following questions: What is the current status of cultural participation? What old and especially new approaches are there to change it? Where can we find successful examples of lived participation in the cultural sector? The conference aims to bring together the current state of knowledge on cultural participation and to discuss the consequences and perspectives for cultural management and practices in the cultural sector.

Invited contributors and guests will include practitioners and theorists, students and researchers in cultural management research and related disciplines.

Conference locations:

Macromedia University of Applied Sciences, Berlin
University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Economics (HTW), Berlin