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Cultural Intermediaries in Film and Television

The scale and role of cultural intermediaries within the screen sector has expanded partly in an attempt to boost national competitiveness.

For many of these agencies a continual balance must be struck between economic and cultural agendas.

In terms of the former this involves supporting projects that will have commercial appeal both domestically and internationally, and thereby deliver a return on investment.

The latter agenda includes cultural preservation and enabling the creative capacity of a nation to be seen within and beyond its borders.

While not mutually exclusive, reconciling these remits can be a challenge especially as they likely rely on different metrics to assess their success.

Building on the previous work of the research team, this project focuses specifically on the experience of small nations. We argue that the analytical value of ‘small nations’ stems from its relational focus, not only in terms of size or scale, but also on the relative power of small as opposed to large nations (McElroy & Noonan 2016).

Small nations are now increasingly reliant on sectors like creative industries for their highly skilled labour, economic development and symbolic outputs. Structures within small nations, including a smaller indigenous market and a reduced talent pool means, that the diversity of cultural outputs may be limited.

Therefore, this research is concerned with the ability of small nations’ content to travel internationally thereby realising multiple cultural and economic ambitions.

Research questions

  1. What is the role of publicly funded screen agencies on the culture and outputs of film and television industries within and from small nations? How might these activities contribute directly to the sustainability of the nation’s screen industries?
  2. How are economic and cultural ambitions framed within these agencies and what forms of assessment are used to ascertain the successful delivery of these goals? How do cultural goals survive in an era of market-based competition and what forms of cultural representation emerge?
  3. How has support for screen industries evolved in that market and where do their priorities lie today?
  4. What kinds of exchange have these cultural intermediaries enabled and what kind of relationships do they leverage in order to achieve their aims?
  5. What are the implications of their decision-making for forms of representation and for audiences in terms of what we see (or don’t see) on our screens.

Key facts

  • This project runs June 2018- May 2020
  • Methodology includes interviews, policy research, and quantitative mapping.

Funder

This two-year project is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the Early Career Researcher grant scheme.

Impact

Our goals for impact are:

  1. build better awareness of the activities and decision-making processes of screen agencies
  2. provide data which enables effective planning within cultural policy for small nations
  3. enhance academic understanding of the role of cultural intermediaries within the ecology for film and television.

Output

This research will contribute directly to the theoretical development of several academic fields including the study of small nations media along with providing critical understandings of cultural policy and the practices of intermediation within the screen sector.

A number of academic outputs will facilitate that development including peer-reviewed journal articles and an edited volume on ‘Cultural Intermediaries in Screen Industries’, the first collection of its kind on the subject.

Engaging directly with stakeholders beyond the academic community is key to our research values and so the dissemination plan for our project is designed to include the international policy community and screen professionals.

This work will take a number of forms including reports and policy briefings which highlight best practice and case studies, along with the main conclusions and recommendations.

Team