Mapping the cultural youth offer in Nottingham March 2016
Mapping youth arts
participation in Nottingham
Pat Thomson and Becky Coles
Centre for Research in Arts, Creativity and Literacies
the “Bubble” project
• Was funded by the East Midlands youth arts bridge organisation, The
• Was led by New Art Exchange and involved five other Nottingham
based arts organisations – Nottingham Contemporary, City Arts,
Lakeside, Castle Museum, Nottingham Playhouse
• Additional funding was provided by the Centre for Advanced Studies
The University of Nottingham, for a postdoc to work on mapping the
youth cultural offer of the six organisations and support each to do an
action research project
some notes on mapping
• Maps are usually a snapshot at a particular time. Some maps however are
• We can only ever map some things, so what we decide to include and
exclude is important.
• Bubble Maps are partial – they are focused on partner organisations. We
did not look at schools for example. School by school information is hard to
get and with the demise of the LA it could become even harder.
• Maps benefit from standardised information. This is not the case here.
Different Bubble partners had different kinds of data collections.
• Bubble partners’ programmes were of different orders - so what counts as
participation as seen by one organisation is different. Differences cover not
only art form but also duration and the degree of ownership/agency of the
young people involved.
• Different organisations have different capacities to collect and process
data. The larger the organisation the more likely they are to have a
data friendly infrastructure.
• Bubble maps are provider led. The take no account of more general
cultural participation, of community sponsored events and
programmes, individual artists and vernacular and traditional
• Nevertheless, even partial maps can tell us something…
Bubble and linkages
with some other
organisations in the
We were given
information about the
programmes offered by
each of the Bubble
Outer regions not as well
served as inner – where
does the city end?
Cultural Mapping Toolkit,
Creative City Network, Canada.
Using maps to support
Bigthought.org – Dallas, USA
Examining Both Supply and Demand
The prevailing approach to addressing lack of participation
has been to view it as an issue of limited supply. Those
wishing to address inequities in OST arts participation
ask: “What can we supply the market with (e.g., programs,
teachers, underwriting) that changes the status quo?” But
this question assumes the problem is only one of unmet demand,
that “if we build it, they will come.”
But such a supply-oriented approach is only part of the solution.
A more balanced and comprehensive method lies in
pairing supply solutions with a stronger consumer demand
orientation. Effective marketers seek to understand what
their potential customers want and how they make their decisions,
and then do what is necessary to meet those needs
and desires. As applied to OST arts, we might ask whether
the market need might not be simply more programs, but
rather different kinds of programs.
Businesses often do consumer research with tweens and
teens, but they rarely make such research public out of competitive
interest. Our study offers an unusual public glimpse
of what influences urban, low-income youth as consumers
in how to spend their free time and make decisions about
their various choices. …
Extending mapping to
include young people
From Something to Say,
Wallace Foundation, 2013
Where to now?
• A dynamic map would require ongoing or regular data updates.
• There would need to be agreement about shared categories, common data
definitions boundaries and exclusions
• The process would need to not place additional administrative burden on
organisations, noting that this would be disproportionate to size.
• We would need to be clear about the things that we wanted to know – e.g.
particular art forms and particular postcodes or neighbourhoods.
• We would need to decide whether the benefits to the city and to the arts
organisations would justify the time and expense of developing a dynamic
Data from a small research project conducted in 2014-12015 to examine some youth arts provision in Nottingham