Purposeful Participation: A Field Guide and Toolkit for Cultural Entrepreneurs

This resource has been created by New Citizen Project. It is a practical resource created in collaboration with a group of twelve individuals from six organisations across the cultural heritage sector. The aim is to guide cultural institutions in their efforts to involve people in shaping cultural heritage, rather than just treating them as mere consumers. This resource offers guidance on how to achieve ‘purposeful participation’ and this can be applied by organizations and institutions of every kind (e.g. in relation to the high street).

Date added 11 September 2020
Last updated 11 September 2020

This resource explains what purposeful participation entails, and how this should be understood as a building block for progress. It presents the concept that many people working together, with different experiences and insights, will develop something that is more valuable than any person working alone ever could. This piece of work, however, goes beyond describing what purposeful participation is about. It acknowledges that many professionals in different institutions are already engaging with people in such a way, and aims to provide them with tools that can help them in their efforts.

This resource explains the importance of shaping the aim of institutions in the form of questions, that allow exploration and creativity to come into play. This is as an alternative to static framings of a vision and a strategy, that too often narrow down possibilities in their answers. It also offers an exercise to generate the right questions that can guide purposeful participation.

A practical strategy map has also been developed as part of this resource, to help in the next steps after a purposeful question has been designed, and to guide the development of more tangible ideas. It offers assistance in translating the ultimate impact of your institution (e.g. transforming your city), into specific activities based on the responses that they need to stimulate. These responses are based on what people think, know, and feel (about a city, in this particular example). An example provided to illustrate the strategy map, is transforming the city of Newport.

Furthermore, this resource also focuses on the skillset that people engaged in participation need to develop or acquire reflective of the participatory process (e.g. being persistent to slow change). Finally, it suggests a professional LinkedIn group where to get ideas and support, and other ways in which this guide, as well as the New Citizen Project, can be of further help in developing best practice and the right skillset.