Written by Dr Biyun Zhu

This project positioned cultural diplomacy at the heart of cultural sustainable development. It discussed how international cultural activities address cultural sustainable development goals (such as cultural diversity and equity) amid the challenges brought by COVID, Brexit, and armed conflicts. Collaborating with Manchester-based organisations and transnational cultural institutions, such as the British Council and European Union National Institutes for Culture, we have obtained both top-down and bottom-up views on this topic. We have built a preliminary framework to facilitate collaboration in cultural diplomacy and advance cultural sustainable development goals.

In Part I of the research, we conducted a series of interviews with local cultural organisations. These interviews provided valuable insights which helped us to identify local organisations’ community assets and resources as well as their challenges and concerns in international programme operation. Part II of the research consisted of a series of dialogues with cultural consultants and professionals in transnational cultural institutions. The conversation yielded valuable information regarding funding opportunities, policy barriers and support, and project management experience in the realm of culture. Applying an inductive method, we undertook thematic content analysis and identified patterns and trends within the interviews and dialogues. Our key findings from this analysis suggest that the following actions should be taken across three dimensions:

  1. Share knowledge and lessons among practitioners, organisations, scholars, and policymakers in international cultural activities.
  2. Promote the awareness of culture and sustainable development among local organisations.
  3. Strengthen narratives of cultural sustainability in cultural diplomacy communication and collaboration at multiple levels (local, national, and global).

As an output of this project, we conducted an online symposium on 12 July 2022. Over 70 scholars, students, and cultural administrators from 13 countries registered for the event. The symposium featured 10 speakers from across the UK, US, France, and Saudi Arabia. The key arguments of the symposium are being edited into a short film which will be available online soon.

Screenshot of speakers at online symposium discussing the challenges and practices of cultural diplomacy

Speakers at symposium discussing the challenges and practices of cultural diplomacy

Project duration: February – July 2022

Project leads: Dr Biyun Zhu (principal investigator, Institute for Cultural Practices, SALC, UoM), Dr Charlotte Faucher (co-investigator, Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow, Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Funding source: SALC Social Responsibility Award


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