The British Council’s cultural relations approach to development encourages work with people and communities closest to local contexts, encourages partnerships and relationships building on equal terms, and promotes trust and understanding for social cohesion and inclusive growth worldwide. It also recognises the transformative power of arts and culture in contributing to more inclusive and creative economies and societies for sustainable development.

Areas of work that are included in this approach include skills development, creative enterprise, creative hubs and communities, digital practice, cultural heritage, intercultural dialogue and socially-engaged arts.

As part of evidencing this way of working, we commissioned a study to assess literature and documentation in the area of culture and development and to provide a methodology that can be used in the creation of policy and planning of future interventions.  

This study, Culture and Development: Towards an Interdisciplinary Methodology (February 2019), was written by J.P. Singh, Professor of International Commerce and Policy at George Mason University, USA. A foreword has been prepared by François Matarasso, writer, researcher and community arts worker and author of A Restless Art: How participation won and why it matters. Appendices have been contributed by Dr Evangelos Chrysagis, Professor Edward Hollis and Professor Candace Jones. The study has been delivered by the University of Edinburgh and published by George Mason University.

The literature review is divided into 4 parts:

  • A survey of the literature on culture and development
  • Human well-being and culture
  • A cultural infrastructure and value-chain perspective
  • Proposals for a methodology for culture and development

The review is interdisciplinary, drawing from anthropology, cultural studies, economics, post-colonial history and literatures, international relations, political science, and sociology.