Cultural Policy Beyond Aesthetics

March, 2000

We need ways of measuring cultural tastes and values that will assist the development of cultural policies that will be ‘beyond aesthetics’ in the sense of recognising that, in complex, culturally diverse societies, there is no single hierarchy of cultural values in play of the kind that was supposed in the earlier development of western cultural policies. This is now widely recognised in official cultural policy discourse – eg the Council of Europe text In from the Margins, or UNESCO’s Our Creative Diversity – as the shift from a culture and democracy perspective (striving to equalise conditions of access to an accepted standard of high culture) to one of cultural democracy (aiming for dispersed patterns of support based on an acceptance of a parity of esteem for the aesthetic values and tastes of different groups within culturally diverse societies).

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