Emily Wray: “‘Culturephilia’ for Whom and Where? Questioning the ‘Curing Qualities’ of Culture in a ‘Post-Troubles’ City: An Analysis of Derry/Londonderry”

In Students by General Account


In the contemporary era, culture is ascribed a range of ‘curative’ and ‘transformatory powers’ (Boland et al, 2019). Boland et al (2018a) term this elevated role as ‘culturephilia’. In light of this, an increasing number of cities compete in ‘beauty contests’ to host high profile events such as European Capital of Culture (Boland, 2013). Running alongside this is an international literature on cities of culture; a key component of which is the long-term economic legacy of hosting cultural events (Jones, 2020; Hudec et al, 2019; Bernardino et al, 2018; Falk & Hagsten, 2017; Németh, 2016; Belfiore, 2015; Lähdesmäki, 2014).

Derry/Londonderry (D/L) is a unique city of culture. In 2013 D/L hosted the inaugural UK City of Culture (CoC). CoC was, in many ways, a celebrated success that legitimised the continued support for cultural events. However, nearing a decade after CoC, the Council acknowledges it lacks rigorous research on the long-term legacy issues, particularly as many of the anticipated economic impacts did not materialise. This feeds criticism from certain stakeholders on the wisdom of cultural funding amidst constrained budgets.

This PhD, in collaboration with Derry City and Strabane City District Council, will fill the evidential void. A mixed methods approach, using quantitative and qualitative research design techniques, will deliver a robust post-decade analysis of the long-term economic legacy of cultural events. Building upon previous work by Boland and colleagues (2018a, b, 2019), the research will facilitate timely and invaluable internal debate within the Council on the merits of cultural funding.