Pauline Hadaway

Pauline Hadaway's articles

My professional interest in researching Northern Irish cultural policy

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My interest in this area arises from my own professional experience as a cultural manager negotiating the complexities of cultural development and policy implementation in Northern Ireland. Throughout this period, covering the years of the peace process and following the signing of the Belfast Agreement, cultural managers often felt overwhelmed by the immediate demands of responding to consultations, familiarizing themselves with new policy frameworks, auditing, monitoring and reporting systems, and responding to the pros and cons of new government directives.

One of the most striking aspects of working in this challenging and very fluid environment was the way ‘culture speak’ emerged almost as the ‘lingua franca’ of policy making. Everybody was talking about culture, cultural diversity, cultural heritage, respect for cultural difference and even ‘the two cultures’ as a way of talking about people and communities with different religious and political beliefs and designations. But when misunderstandings arose, it often seemed on reflection that in our promiscuous use of ‘culture’ as a way of talking about art, identity, conflict and political allegiances, far from clarifying or resolving conflict and tension was actually acting as a barrier to common understanding. It sometimes seemed we were both trying to communicate and at the same time ‘trying to learn a new language.’ (Hadaway, 2007)

Further observations of the problems arising in policy implementation, related to the focus of community consultation on ‘solicitous management’ of cultural difference ‘rather than the presentation of the actual values, fears and beliefs’ of the different community interests in question. (Crowley, 2011). Problems with delayed decision making frequently impeded ‘good progress on the development of new cultural sector infrastructure’ (Cultural Tourism Strategy Belfast City Council, 2006). Problems also arose for cultural and community managers from ‘demands of consultations, equality impact statements’ and similar direct interventions by institutions and policymakers (McGlaughlin, 2004).

This thesis aims to throw light on the problems arising for managers tasked with developing and implementing cultural policy by looking below the surface of policy discourse to reveal often sharply conflicting ideas of what culture is and its relationship to society, identity and place. These questions also relate to important work emerging in Irish political studies, which highlights contradictions arising from the divergence between policy rhetorics of inclusiveness, regeneration and resolution and the reality of persistent communal sectarian antagonisms in Northern Ireland (Peace Monitoring Report 2013).

My study is also greatly influenced by academic literature which has emerged in the fields of political economy, urban and social geography in response to problems arising from protracted consultation and development processes, delayed decision making, resource competition and deepening segregation that have been recognized as serious impediments to social and economic development in Northern Ireland. An important body of literature is also emerging in the fields of spatial and urban planning, which questions the congruence of instrumental uses of contested heritage in tourism and urban regeneration. This work instead suggests that there is a need to develop authentic representations of community and, accurate representations of history, alongside the fostering of ‘mature and creative reflection’ in the post conflict city. I propose to apply the new knowledge emerging in these related disciplines to my research into cultural policy making as a way of extending and complementing an important and growing area of research.

Crowley, T. (2011) ‘The Art of Memory: The Murals of Northern Ireland and the Management of History’. Field Day Review, Vol. 7 pp. 22-49, 2011 Hadaway, P. ‘Cohesion in Contested Space’, The Architects’ Journal 2001 Hadaway, P. MA, Ulster University 2003 Hadaway, P. (2007) ‘A Cautionary Tale’, Printed Project: Autonomy ed. Munira Mirza, Visual Artists Ireland, Dublin Hadaway, P. (2009) ‘Re-imaging Belfast: B for Branding’, Urban Design Journal (Issue 109), London Hadaway, P. (2014) ‘Re-imagining Titanic, re-imaging Belfast’, Re-launching Titanic: memory and Marketing in the New Belfast, eds. William J.V. Neill, Michael Murray & Berna Grist, Routledge, London McLaughlin, E., Porter, F. and Mc Auley, C. ‘Inequality in Northern Ireland: Narcissism of Minor Difference?’ SCOPE, July/August 2004 p.17


Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey 2010 published by Access Research Knowledge. Retrieved 20.07.2015 Northern Ireland Peace Monitoring Report Number Two (2013) published by the Community Relations Council, Belfast


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