Cultural governance within and across cities and regions: Evidence from the English publicly funded arts sector

Dave O’Brien, Griffith Rees, Mark Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Downloads (Pure)


There are significant inequalities in the publicly funded arts sector in England, including significant spatial inequalities. If anything, the critique of spatial inequalities in this ecology do not go far enough. This article uses a unique dataset of the boards of directors of Arts Council England’s national portfolio, derived from Companies House. While a majority of national portfolio organisations do not share board members with any other organisation, the analysis demonstrates that London-based organisations are significantly more likely to share board members with other companies than organisations outside London – and that, where an organisation outside of London does share a board member with a company in another region, it is more likely to be with a company in London than all other regions put together. It further demonstrates that this effect is most pronounced where these organisations are part of the same artform. Crucially, the organisations connected to London have more than double the portfolio income of other organisations, whether they share board members or not. This illustration of the concentration of power in London in the publicly funded arts sector, over and above the distribution of organisations in general, demonstrates the conceptual value of a cultural economy that emerges from interconnections within a local or national ecosystem. At the same time, the analysis and findings push the cultural ecology literature to centre inequality as a core issue as the concept is developed. Even the local cultural ecosystem is not exempt from the impact of the nation’s uneven (cultural) geography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-204
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Urban and Regional Studies
Issue number2
Early online date1 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Arts Council England
  • companies house
  • cultural governance
  • social network
  • spatial inequalities


Dive into the research topics of 'Cultural governance within and across cities and regions: Evidence from the English publicly funded arts sector'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this