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Cultural Space Programme

Over the 2014-15 academic year, academics, arts professionals, artists, architects, designers and the public took centre stage in a process to explore new approaches to the development of cultural organisations’ physical and virtual spaces in ways that empower organisations and their audiences.

New approaches

The ambitions of the Cultural space programme were to explore new and game-changing approaches that:

  • animate and enhance the porosity and legibility of cultural buildings for a wide audience;
  • thread and integrate building-based cultural organisations with their immediate environment and local communities;
  • stimulate innovative collaborations crossing the physical and virtual within cultural spaces.


The Programme

A ‘legible’ public building allows users to map a space and make topographical sense of its layout. The programme tested if and how the enhanced legibility of a cultural space develops the relationship between buildings and their publics and how this impacts on footfall and the diversity of that footfall.

The programme considered the ways in which cultural organisations might develop a sense of public ownership and free access to their buildings through their presence and activity beyond their buildings' walls. It also considered how an organisation’s virtual space can work as an extension of its physical space, and vice versa.

cspreports-gnBy approaching arts buildings as living organisms ‘breathing in and out’, the programme considered how the relationship between a cultural organisation’s internal, external and virtual spaces might work symbiotically to enhance the health of an organisation’s estate as well as its local and on-line environments.

By way of context setting, participants in the programme mapped the ways in which building based cultural organisations relate to their physical and virtual environments at the current time.  The programme then sought to develop thinking and new ideas with all participants, and commission a series of space experiments across a range of organisations, each at different stages of their development. 

The programme was designed to challenge received wisdom, to provoke fresh ideas and relationships, and to inspire and foster cross-disciplinary knowledge exchange and collaboration.


To develop the programme, three interventions were held in October and November 2014: The Current Landscape, Walking Conversations Tour at the Olympic Park site and an Ideas lab

Supported Projects

The Cultural Space Programme supported a number of projects. Further information can be found about each one by following the links below.

A Third Person Perspective

Building the Museum of Homelessness


My Primary School is at the Museum



The Cultural Space Programme was steered by Hilary Carty. Hilary is an independent consultant specialising in leadership and organisational development. Prior to working independently, Hilary was Director of the Cultural Leadership Programme, a £22m government investment in excellence in leadership in the UK cultural and creative industries, which is acknowledged to have raised the sector’s leadership capacity, facilitated diverse leadership practice and personnel, and delivered increased economic benefits for cultural sector organisations.

Hilary's earlier roles include Director, London (Arts) at Arts Council England; Director, Culture and Education at London2012; and Director, Dance at Arts Council England. In recognition of her contribution to the arts, culture, Hilary has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from De Montfort and Middlesex Universities and is an Honorary Fellow of Goldsmiths, University of London. Hilary combines her consulting career with lecturing as Visiting Professor at Kufstein University, Austria.


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