Cultural organizations, collaborative contexts and public: How they become small communities

Vera Borges


While some of our early studies on cultural policy focus on the role played by central government in the support of Portuguese artistic and cultural organizations, more attention should be paid to the way in which the local work of organizations can be developed by examining the collaborative art contexts that had predated government funding. We introduce the idea that collaborative contexts are feeding and boosting organizations’ work and, consequently, enhancing the effect of the government aid that targets local communities. Using a multiple case-study methodology, we argue that culture goes beyond state funding and we illustrate this by examining the cultural projects developed by artistic organizations in five Portuguese inter-municipal communities with different collaborative profiles and geographies. We find that informal contexts, networks and partnerships foster the local collaboration of cultural organizations and enhance their reputation. We also draw attention to other complementary dynamics introduced by the collaborative art process such as the increase in cultural organizations’ activities; the growth of local professionals, thus fostering the local arts profiles and creation itself; the greater cosmopolitanism of cultural organizations that operate in cities, villages or districts and move in international arenas; and finally, the intensification of cultural experiences and conviviality with the participating public.


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