Imagining the social impact of museums and galleries: interrogating cultural policy through an empirical study

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  2. Professor Andrew Newman
Author(s)Newman A
Publication type Article
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
ISSN (print)1028-6632
ISSN (electronic)1477-2833
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This paper aims to contribute to an understanding of how museums and galleries are regulated through an examination of the production and implementation of policy. It concentrates on those aspects that view them as vehicles through which social policy, such as that dealing with social inequality, can be implemented. To do this, it identifies the ways that motivations, behaviours and social outcomes of engagement are imagined by New Public Management-derived policy, and audit and evaluation tools. This is then examined using the results of a study of how visitors consume contemporary visual art galleries in north-east England, UK. The study concludes that the complex nature of engagement cannot be accommodated by policy in its present form and cannot be captured by existing audit and evaluation tools. It suggests that new approaches that acknowledge the roles visitors play in the construction of meanings need to be developed.
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