Cultural Institutions and Attractiveness: How Cultural Institutions Contribute to the Development of Regions and Local Communities

Hanna Nyborg Storm

Research output: Book/ReportPhD thesis

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The aim of the dissertation has been to investigate the role of cultural institutions in the development of regions and local communities. In particular, it has been studied how cultural institutions can contribute to the attractiveness of these places, and what types of values and benefits are associated with different types of cultural institutions. The dissertation consists of three papers, all of which focus on the role of cultural institutions in local and community development, but approach the concept differently.
The first paper of the dissertation, Local development policy: Do new culture houses have an impact on migration? The case of Norway, by Bille and Storm (2021), study the effect of large-scale investments in culture houses in Norway. The culture houses can be seen as a part of an international trend in which cultural institutions, often large with spectacular architectural design, aim to draw the attention of potential tourists, investors and future residents. The Norwegian culture houses have particularly been expected to make the places more attractive for new residents. In the study, we investigate the causal effect of the opening of 52 culture houses in Norway, and find that the investments have not made the municipalities more successful in terms of attracting new residents.
The Norwegian culture houses are claimed to signal a shift in the orientation away from a focus on the broad concept of culture, and onto more elitist forms of art and culture. In the second paper of the dissertation, From Bilbao to Bodø: How cultural flagships are transforming local cultural life (Storm, 2022), I use the same case of 52 culture houses to investigate the questions of whether: (1) the establishment of culture houses has shifted the priorities of cultural policy, and (2) how the large investments in facilities have affected the supply of cultural goods and services in the local communities. The results confirm an increased prioritization of the sector in the years following the opening of the culture houses and support that there has been a shift in priority, as there seems to be a stronger support for professional arts and a lower support for activities directed toward amateur organizations and children/youth. There are also strong indications of growth in the “new” arenas of art and culture.
The third paper of the dissertation, The Benefits and Attractiveness of Local Theaters. Comedy or Shakespeare – does it matter? represents a more individual approach to the concept, as it studies different types of values and externalities provided by cultural institutions. The primary aim of the study was to investigate the perceived benefits of having local theaters, and whether it matter what types of theaters are present in the community. Using data from a large-scale survey conducted in Denmark in the spring of 2020, we find that the type of theater has significant impact on the values perceived by the users, while non-users show no preferences for the types of theater located in the municipality. Therefore, we conclude that non-users have no understanding of the different kinds of externalities provided, and the type of supply does not matter for non-user’s valuation.
As most previous studies in the field have been case studies that aim to find the economic impact of a single cultural event institution, the papers provide a more general and novel contribution. All three papers indicate, each in their own way, that the instrumental benefits of cultural institutions are limited. This seems to at least be the case in terms of contributing to growth in terms of more residents, as clearly demonstrated in Bille and Storm (2021). This can be considered an argument for the need for a broader focus in both cultural policy and future studies, as the most important impact of arts and culture is not in terms of economic impact but in their cultural or social influence.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFrederiksberg
PublisherCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Number of pages155
ISBN (Print)9788775681259
ISBN (Electronic)9788775681266
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesPhD Series

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