This article explores arts, cultural and community engagement (ACCE) in the context of enduring austerity in England. Working with a methodically crafted synthesis of theoretical perspectives drawn from (1) the critical political economy (CPE) tradition, (2) the sociology of cultural production, (3) cultural studies and critical strands of community development scholarship, and (4) pertinent discourses on the creative economy and place-based development, the article reviews the political, economic and institutional ecosystem within which a bottom-up approach to ACCE operates. Making use of ethnography for data-gathering, the article explores how three carefully selected case studies respond to the demands and pressures generated by, and associated with, corporate interest and top-down, policy-driven subsidy—including how such responses shape and position the work of the case studies in the contemporary creative economy and local place-based development. The article argues that ACCE contributes meaningfully to the development of self-governance and organic growth through egalitarian cross-sectoral alliances and cultural and social entrepreneurship. However, this happens only if the said ecosystem genuinely supports equality and social justice. Where such support is non-existent, established hierarchies perpetuate domination and exploitation. This stifles wider creative and cultural engagement on the terms of communities.
Mutibwa, D. H. (2022). The (Un)Changing Political Economy of Arts, Cultural and Community Engagement, the Creative Economy and Place-Based Development during Austere Times. Societies, 12(5), Article 135. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc12050135