Joan Harris and Betty Farrell
Be notified about events and publications:
The Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago is a nationally recognized interdisciplinary research center dedicated to informing policies that affect the arts, humanities, and cultural heritage. It is a joint center of the Harris School of Public Policy and NORC at the University of Chicago.
Since 1999, the Cultural Policy Center has served as a forum for new ways of understanding arts and culture, what the arts do, and how they are informed and affected by a range of policies in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
We address this breadth of study by drawing upon the expertise of the University of Chicago faculty and graduate student researchers, as well as other national and international scholars and cultural sector leaders. Given the Center’s position at the intersection of the humanities, social sciences, law, and policy, we have worked with a wide range of interdisciplinary scholars who use multiple methodologies for studies that have included state cultural policy, the arts workforce, arts censorship, cultural amenities, economic impact analyses, and contingent valuation methodology.
We are committed to:
- Developing research that provides the basis for informed policy decisions affecting cultural institutions, activities, and markets at the local, regional, national, and international levels.
- Generating policy options for cultural administrators and policymakers.
- Preparing students of public policy for careers in the cultural sector
- Developing future researchers and scholars in the field of cultural policy research.
- Advancing public dialogue on policy and culture issues of the day, through collaborative programs and working conferences that engage faculty, students, researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and partners in the cultural and philanthropic fields.
Formulating a response to this question is part of our work. Cultural policy is an approach to a set of questions as much as it is a focus for analysis.
The United States lacks a formal cultural policy such as that existing in Europe. Because America is so decentralized, culture — the arts and humanities, broadly defined — are subject to a wide range of policies, private and public, formal and ad hoc, local and transnational, with disparate and sometimes conflicting objectives.
Cultural policy seeks to emphasize the effects these policies have on culture, an impact that is often underappreciated if not outright neglected.
Identifying and analyzing this impact requires innovative collaboration among humanists, lawyers, policymakers, and social scientists examining everything from disciplinary boundaries, the responsibilities of public intellectuals and cultural rights to government-sponsored street theatre and the regionalization of American popular fiction.
In 1998, a small group of faculty at the University of Chicago from diverse disciplines with keen interest in the cultural sector began discussing ideas for a research and teaching center that would focus on cultural policy.
Several of them had grown up in countries where this kind of research was commonplace, where it was understood that cultural policies can have a tremendous impact on citizens of all ages. These faculty members agreed that a clear understanding of how the cultural sector functions is a necessary prelude to any possible public intervention by government, foundations, citizens groups, or legislatures.
Their ideas were put into action. A year later, the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago was founded. In January 1999, we held our opening conference, "The Arts and Humanities in Public Life," with the support and participation of 130 members of University faculty, the Provost, University trustees, and friends of the University.
Since then we have successfully drawn on the extensive resources of the University of Chicago—its faculty, its research collections, and such institutions as NORC, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the University of Chicago Press, the Division of the Humanities, the Division of the Social Sciences, and the Law School.
Our participation in projects that are national in scope has built a wide and loyal constituency of practitioners, policymakers, philanthropists, and foundation officers throughout the United States. At the same time, we have created an intellectual constituency on campus, with faculty from fields ranging from law to anthropology, sociology to art history, philosophy to public policy that have collaborated on researching and teaching cultural policy.
The support of our funders and collaborators has enabled over a decade's worth of research and public programs dedicated to exploring new data and ideas in the cultural sector. Our conferences have examined arts and humanities in public life, historic preservation and development in Chicago, the protection of cultural heritage, the future of public television, and more. Our workshops serve as a forum for students, researchers, and practitioners to discuss the latest research. And our CultureLab initiative — now entering its second year — connects academic research with the needs of practitioners and encourages experimentation.
Our research is central to all of these activities, producing data to inform cultural advocates and policy makers involved in arts in community development, cultural industries and globalization, arts education, cultural heritage and landmark preservation, intellectual property rights, censorship and First Amendment issues, and civic engagement.
We have a strong track record of success in all of these areas. We know how to engage both academics and the general public in significant dialogues about the practical workings of culture in our lives, as stated in our mission.
The Center wishes to thank its generous supporters, including:
- The Irving Harris Foundation
- NORC at the University of Chicago
- Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies
- The Smart Family Foundation
- Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
- The Kresge Foundation
- John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Past supporters include:
- The Joyce Foundation
- The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust
- The Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Foundation
- The McCormick Tribune Foundation
- The Rockefeller Brothers Fund
- Jamee Rosa
- The James S. Kemper Foundation
- The Chicago Community Trust
- Provost, University of Chicago
- Division of the Humanities, The University of Chicago
- The Pew Charitable Trusts
- The David and Lucille Packard Foundation
- The Otto L. and Hazel T. Rhoades Fund
- The Charles P. and Lavinia S. Schwartz Foundation
- The Northern Trust Company
- The Wallace Foundation