About Us

The Cities of Culture Research Observatory is based at the
School of the Arts, University of Liverpool.

The Observatory combines humanities and social science research frameworks to articulate the value of evidence-based cultural policy in the development of event-led urban regeneration. The wealth of material gathered by the Observatory and its associates showcases common trends, challenges and opportunities in the ever growing concept of ‘cities of culture’ and its application worldwide.

The Observatory started as a scholarly project in 1999 within the Olympic Studies Centre at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. This work led to the launch of the Cultural Policy Research Forum in 2001, one of the first digital academic environments dedicated exclusively to showcasing cultural policy initiatives. The Forum evolved into an informal cities of culture research observatory within the Centre for Cultural Policy Research at the University of Glasgow, in connection with the Cities and Culture Project (2002-2005). The latter set the methodological foundations for Impacts 08, the European Capital of Culture Research Programme led by the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University between 2006 and 2010, followed by the establishment of the Institute of Cultural Capital in 2010.

In 2020, Beatriz Garcia continues working with national and international colleagues to maintain the Observatory as a curated repository of academic research and evaluation on the evolving concept of ‘cities of culture’. In 2020, the Observatory is also contributing to the development of joined-up evaluation frameworks for culture, in collaboration with the new UK Centre for Cultural Value.


Find below a few of the key research centres, Universities and research programmes the Observatory has been based at or closely collaborated with over the years. The range of institutional collaborations is developing and will continue to expand.


1998-2001 | Research on global television and Olympic ceremonies;
the cultural legacies of Barcelona 1992; the cultural policy of Sydney 2000

2001-2005 | Cities and Culture Project on the legacy of Glasgow 1990;
the cultural dimension of the Olympic Games – Salt Lake 2002, Athens 2004, Torino 2006

2005-2010 | Impacts 08, European Capital of Culture Research Programme; the value and impact of culture-led regeneration in Liverpool; European Capital of Culture Policy Network

2010-2019 | National Impact of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad; the cultural dimension of the Olympic Games in Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, Rio 2016, PyeongChang 2018; 30 years of the European Capital of Culture Programme; The Value of securing World Heritage Site Status

2020 onwards | Co-creating evaluation principles to capture the value of arts and culture
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