Stoke-on-Trent’s Cultural Observatory announces plans to measure the impact of UK City of Culture 2021

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Posted on 05 December 2017

Stoke-on-Trent’s Cultural Observatory, which plays a leading role in the city’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021, has announced plans which outline how it will measure the impact of the successful bid. This comes as the UK City of Culture panel meet on Wednesday, with a final decision due on Thursday.

The Cultural Observatory – established by Staffordshire and Keele Universities – will play a lead role in evaluating the powerful impact that a year-long festival of culture will have on the city and its people. The Observatory will not only measure the impact of the UK City of Culture 2021 and wider spin-off initiatives, but it will also maximise its impact through new and innovative ideas and share its learning with the world via an annual conference.

The Cultural Observatory has established six key research themes that will support the UK City of Culture 2021 team to develop an understanding of cultural interactions, and develop and test innovative solutions and approaches to the measurement and evaluation of change. Themes include: economy and tourism, health and wellbeing, inclusion and cohesion, education and skills, culture and place-making, and digital research.

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The Cultural Observatory will be a powerful legacy project for UK City of Culture 2021, connecting artists, communities and educational establishments through shared research and learning into the economic and civic boost from which our city and region would benefit. The Cultural Observatory will continue its plans even if the City is not selected for UK City of Culture 2021.

Professor David Amigoni, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Keele University, explains: “UK City of Culture 2021 status can have profound and unexpected impacts on a local area, extending well beyond cultural life, visitor economy and reputation; reaching into the broader economy and positively influencing health, wellbeing, social cohesion, learning and education, environment, confidence and civic pride. Through the Cultural Observatory, we want to be able to not only observe the impact on our community, but help to shape change and create a lasting legacy by learning from our findings.”

Professor Ieuan Ellis, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Region, Staffordshire University, said: "As a Connected University, our staff, students and partners have been fully committed in supporting the development of the bid. Becoming UK City of Culture will have significant impacts to the economy, to social wellbeing, and to the lives of people young and old living, working and learning in our community. We are delighted that the Cultural Observatory will harness the joint academic expertise at Staffordshire and Keele Universities to evaluate the impact and positive benefits of culture for our City.”

For more information about the bid, and the Cultural Observatory’s plans, visit