The CVP builds on the strengths of two robust and well-tested methods: the Open University’s Cultural Value Model (CVM) and the Hertie School of Government’s Civil Society Diamond (CSD). By combining these two approaches, the methodological ambition of the CVP is to, on the one hand, scale up the CVM and, on the other, transform the HSoG’s CSD into a Cultural Relations Diamond (CRD). The collaborative synergies that both movements provide the CVP with an analytical and methodological framework to deliver a rich and contextualised picture of the value of cultural relations in Egypt and Ukraine for different stakeholders.

The Open University adapted the Cultural Value Model for this research – a participatory approach which brings together diverse perspectives on a programme and assesses its value according to expectations forged at the outset. The research involved five in-depth case studies of cultural relations programmes. The data gathering process included participatory workshops at British Council and Goethe-Institut offices in Cairo and Kyiv with beneficiaries of the programmes, the staff delivering the programmes, and the strategy and policy teams within those two organisations; stakeholder surveys; and in-depth expert interviews. The result provides a snail’s-eye view of cultural relations in the two countries.

In Kyiv, our four workshops brought together 160 people involved in the case study programmes – mainly users and beneficiaries. The workshops informed the subsequent design of a questionnaire. We then conducted a survey with 179 people who had been directly involved in the case study programmes. The survey results were presented at a second workshop and findings were collaboratively debated and interpreted. To complement and widen the optic of the case studies, we also carried out expert interviews of one to two-hours duration with 25 people working in or highly knowledgeable about the cultural relations field (but not associated with either the British Council or the Goethe-Institut). The interviews allowed us to test emerging hypotheses and findings on a wider, well-informed group.

In Cairo, we conducted 6 workshops that brought together 131 people. In similar fashion, the workshops informed the design of the questionnaire. We then conducted a survey with 241 respondents. We also conducted in-depth interviews with 15 people with local expertise in cultural relations. In some cases, we interviewed a handful of people several times over one to two hours. It was much more difficult to get artists and cultural producers and entrepreneurs to speak to us in Egypt due to the difficult security situation.

Research Questions

This research brings the benefits and unique strengths of both approaches into dialogue to find answers to our two research questions:

  1. What is the value of cultural relations? What forms of value are found and given priority by which stakeholders? How can we theorise how forms of value function and accrue? How can we evaluate the presence and impact of value?
  2. How can cultural relations help prevent or ameliorate conflict and its damaging social and economic effects? How can cultural relations support stability and security? How can cultural relations contribute to the strengthening of future leaders and civil society organisations who can reduce conflict and increase stability?

The Cultural Value Model and the Cultural Relations Diamond

The two distinctive approaches bring into dialogue:

  1. The Cultural Relations Diamond (CRD) offers a bird’s eye view of the whole of the cultural relations ecology, including data on cultural relations actors, their work and the contexts in which they operate. The CRD works from the general to the particular.
  2. The Cultural Value Model (CVM) presents a snail’s eye, ethnographically informed, on-the-grounded analysis of the value of specific cultural relations programmes, projects and events set in their local and national contexts. The CVM moves the analytical framework from the particular to the general. The two approaches meet in the middle and enable new knowledge to emerge.

The two approaches complement one another, bringing distinct perspectives to bear on the same research questions. In this way we can build on the advantage of bringing micro and macro cultural relations processes into one framework yielding broader conclusions that are firmly rooted in practices. This fills a yawning gap in the field of cultural relations research that usually adopts either a top down, overly theoretical, empirically-void approach from the perspective of policymakers, or a bottom-up, practitioner perspective that fails to connect with wider structural and political, strategic and policy as well as organisational dynamics. By combining our analysis of quantitative, qualitative and ethnographic data, our two approaches are more than the sum of their parts.

The ethnographic qualitative work done by the Open University helped inform the design of the macro-level data gathering instruments used by the Hertie School of Governance. The qualitative data from CVM workshops fed into the CRD organisational survey at a fairly early stage and helped test concepts and emergent hypotheses. Qualitative and quantitative can act in harmony and mutually inform each other. This was done through an iterative process of reviews and feedback in which academics from both institutions participated.

The Cultural Value Project is based on the following principles that guide our joint research:

  1. it uses mixed research methods that bring together qualitative and quantitative data. We aim to collaboratively create a new model of assessment that shifts the focus from impact to a richer understanding of ‘value’ while maintaining a certain degree of comparability;
  2. its unique approach combines participatory evaluation, where the components to be researched are established and assessed cooperatively (insider view), accompanied by an external analysis (outsider view) of the same phenomena;
  3. it offers a multi-perspective approach that goes beyond the top-down and bottom-up dualities to consider all stakeholders, including those not directly involved in cultural relations, as legitimate interlocutors in a conversation about the value of cultural relations;
  4. it offers a practice that can be owned by the participants and allow them to explore the meaning of their work. The CVP offers a collective reflection process; a self-reflective evaluation tool for organisations (CVM) that enables them to look at their work through the perspectives of all parties involved and to make changes according to new and often unexpected results. At the same time, the results of the bird’s eye view analysis (CRD) allow the institutions to better reflect upon their place within the national context and within the broader context of cultural relations;
  5. it establishes the context for a participatory form of research, in which the theoretical and conceptual framework of researchers is tested by practice. Our subjects of study are active participants in the process; and
  6. it provides a visual tool that processes complex information into composite snapshots (constellations and diamonds.

More on the methodoology can be found in the full report:

CVP Report