Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art: the British Community Arts Movement goes Gold Open Access!

The book Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art: the British Community Arts Movement edited by Alison Jeffers and Gerri Moriarty is now available free online. For those who want to access the book now just click on the link below and start reading; we hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

If you would like to have a paper-back copy of the book, this will be published on 27th December 2018 and you can pre-order a copy by following this link.

For those who are interested in the background on how this book has been made open access please read on because this is an interesting story about finance, power and access to knowledge. Reading this book for free has been enabled by the University of Manchester. Academics there believe that it is important that this book is available to a wider audience and has paid the publishers Bloomsbury Methuen to make Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art Gold Open Access. We are thrilled and very proud that the institution recognizes the importance of this research and wants to make it more widely available.

The book was published by Bloomsbury Methuen in 2017 as an academic text rather than a book that you might find on a stand of novels in a high street book shop. Novels are expected to be popular, to sell copies and to make money which will keep the publishing houses solvent and able to commission new writing. Academic books are expected to push forward the boundaries of knowledge in a particular field because they have something new and original to say – they are more ‘niche’ and are never expected to sell to a broad audience. Most academic books will be bought by university libraries and the cost of around £60 or £70 for a book is not exceptional to them in the way that buying one copy for individual readership might be. Many publishers such as Bloomsbury will automatically make books available in paperback which will be cheaper but typically this might be two years or more after the initial publication.

Increasing numbers of research projects now build in the cost of making the results of the research accessible from the outset but this is problematic for research in the arts which is often unfunded and carried out by academics as part of their job alongside teaching and administration. This was the case with Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art: the British Community Arts Movement which we started to research in 2010. The economic realities of the process meant that the academics who contributed to the book were being paid by their institutions, the work being part of their contract to carry out teaching and research. The artists who contributed to this book did not have the same luxury and carried out the work unpaid in their own time.

Regardless of the economics of the ways in which this particular book came into being, to bring a book to publication the publishers still have costs to cover. Their staff talk to potential authors and generally scope out the possibilities of publishing books that will be useful and relevant in their field. Staff in publishing houses issue contracts, make sure that writers stay focused and deliver work on time, proof read and correct numerous copies of the manuscript, arrange for images and illustrations to be produced, check copyright issues, publicize and market new titles and many other things connected with successfully bringing a new book into the world: all of this costs money and, as we’ve already said, these books won’t be best sellers so the full costs will never be recouped. So, how to square the circle? The publishers need to recover their costs but there is no funding that will enable the results of the research to be open to an audience beyond the academic one that is set up to pay the necessarily high cost of producing books for a limited readership.

In recent years there has been a move in academic research to make the results of research more widely available to a broader audience. It’s a fairly complex issue with different expectations and pressures in the different disciplines as well as different ways of publishing research through journals, books and other methods. You can read about it here

We welcome comments and ideas for further research.


About alison jeffers

I am an academic working in theatre and performance.
This entry was posted in Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art: the British Community Arts Movement goes Gold Open Access!

  1. Pingback: (Other people) thinking about cultural democracy – A Restless Art

  2. Pingback: Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art | artdotearth

  3. It’s v important that this is free online, well done.

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