Last week, Interactive Cultures played host to a visit from Lauren Amery of the West Midlands Regional Observatory. The WMO is the source of regional research, facts and figures with a responsibility for helping the region to develop better access to well organised information in order to formulate better policy, strategy and funding in the West Midlands for the collective good.

Lauren is the Cultural Research Analyst for the Cultural Observatory arm of the WMO and continues to publish valuable reports on the sector that are available to download at the WMO address online.

There are two new evidence papers which were launched in March 2009. ‘Culture & Prosperity: The Economic Role of Culture in the West Midlands’ and ‘Culture, People & Place: The Social & Environmental Role of Culture in the West Midlands’ draw together what we know about the impact of culture in the West Midlands. Together these papers seek to boost understanding of the region’s cultural and creative strengths, highlighting areas for potential development. Such reports of course are exactly the kind of material that we regularly review as part of our ‘Creative Industries Book Club’ and which feeds into and supports the quality of our own research.

We should mention that Lauren has her own blog too which is essential reading for those interested in this sector.

One of the objects of making such contacts is of course to share information about what we do and to find out about the different ways in which other projects are engaging with the creative and cultural industries. Thus, the difference between WMO and Interactive Cultures, while not absolute, can be characterised as follows. The Cultural Observatory tends to the quantitative, statistical insight while here we tend towards qualitative research, seeking to explore the cultures of production practices, consumption and the politics of creative industries from ground-up. On such bases, we have much to discuss and look forward to future exchanges and collaboration.

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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