Seminar #4: The Ecology of Culture

Referring to his AHRC report, The Ecology of Culture, published in February of this year, John Holden will be discussing the interdependencies of publicly funded culture, commercial culture and homemade culture that interact and “shape the demand for and production of arts and cultural offerings”.

Rather than seeing these interactions as an economy, they are better understood through an ecological approach that “concentrates on relationships and patterns, showing how careers develop, ideas transfer, money flows, and product and content move, to and fro, around and between the funded, homemade and commercial subsectors”.

As Holden stated: It is more helpful to understand culture in terms of how it is organized, rather than simply stating what it does. The use of ecological metaphors creates a rich way of discussing culture, and different perspectives then emerge. New taxonomies, new visualisations, and fresh ways of thinking about how culture operates will help promote a rich, diverse and fruitful cultural ecology.

Download a copy of the report here


Thursday, November 12


Pervasive Media Studio
Bristol BS1 5TX



John Holden is an Associate at the think tank Demos, where he was Head of Culture for 8 years, and also a visiting Professor at the University of Leeds and an Honorary Professor at the University of Hong Kong. He has been involved in many major projects with the cultural sector ranging across libraries, music, museums, the performing arts, and the moving image.

He has addressed issues of leadership, cultural policy, culture and international relations, evaluation and organisational development, working with governments, cities, cultural agencies and organisations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Tate, the V&A and the British Museum.

John has given many keynote speeches on culture in the UK, Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. His publications include The Ecology of Culture, Democratic Culture, Cultural Diplomacy, Influence and Attraction, The Cultural Leadership Handbook (with Robert Hewison), and Cultural Value and the Crisis of Legitimacy.

Holden is a Trustee of the Hepworth Wakefield, a Strategy Board member of the Clore Leadership Programme, and has served on various Advisory Boards at Oxford University, the Royal Opera House, the Design Museum, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.