ERICarts European Institute for Comparative Cultural Research

Producing Comparative Data, Statistics and Information

Gathering and processing comparative data and statistics is a difficult – sometimes seemingly impossible – task.  The experts working together with the ERICarts Institute have had long experience in developing indicators and statistical frameworks to harmonise the collection of data across Europe in areas such as public cultural expenditure, culture and employment and cultural participation.  They have undertaken this work for UNESCO as well as for the EUROSTAT-LEG working groups.

Empirical research conducted by the ERICarts-Institute begins with a series of critical questions that are posed within cultural policy debate forums at the national and European levels or within different communities of researchers, artists or cultural workers. This starting point is crucial to ensure the collection of relevant comparative data and statistics which can help inform decisions made by these public and private sector actors as well as help to monitor certain trends, evaluate policy strategies or test theories.

The ERICarts Institute can assist in the production and analysis of data by:

  • Developing frameworks to collect data (articulating critical questions, developing indicators, formulating survey questions);
  • Gathering data in different countries in co-operation with local teams of researchers;
  • Comparing data across countries;
  • Interpreting / analysing data taking into consideration different political and cultural contexts;
  • Turning data into information relevant for policy-makers.

One recent example from the ERICarts study “Culture-Gates” produced for the European Union:

Step 1:  Critical Questions:
What is the status of women working in the field of the new media arts?  Do women hold key decision-making positions as "gate-keepers"? Are there glass ceilings or impenetrable gates in their pursuit of recognition and/or success in this continuously developing field?

Step 2:  Developing Indicators:  
Indicators used to collect comparative data on the career paths of women working in the field of the new media arts. Download indicators

Step 3:  Gathering Data in Different Countries: 
National investigations were undertaken by partner institutions in Austria (Mediacult), Finland (EKVIT), Germany (ZfKf) and Portugal (OAC).

Step 4:  Comparing Data across Countries: 

Step 5:  Interpreting Data:
Extract from Culture-Gates: “Women are well represented among the student population, and their share begins to rapidly decline when examining positions in the institutionalised side of the field of new media arts. Those setting the artistic canon, namely those artistic directors and professors of (new) media arts (the latter of which are under pressures to "publish or perish") are mainly men. This comes as somewhat of a surprise from the point of view that it is generally acknowledged that women are well recognised as major contributors and even pioneers who have left solid stakes framing the field of (new) media arts. The fact that the field is generally less "hierarchical" in structure in comparison to other fields such as music also led us to hypothesise that the status of women would be better. However, the main message to be heard from the results is that no matter the field, the old networks of power fall into place as soon as there are institutional (and financially interesting) mechanisms to house and breed them. This finding does not suggest a model of total anarchy, but urgently calls for more transparency and much closer attention and monitoring of institutional structures, hiring criteria and practices throughout the cultural labour market. If these discriminatory practices can happen in a new field such as (new) media arts, then one can safely assume that other areas of the cultural labour market follow a similar pattern, except of course in those fields which have already been proven to be feminised.

Step 6:  Relevance for Policy Makers:
The recommendations are aimed at European and national policy makers, individual arts institutions and networks; some also address the self-perception of individual professionals, be they artists or "gate-keepers". They are based on national investigations producing both quantitative and qualitative information and data.  Download recommendations .


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