Culture cycle

The culture cycle lays out in five stages or linkages all the processes required to produce, disseminate and highlight cultural expressions, as well as to receive, use and understand them.

It is a flexible model. According to the nature of each cultural expression, some stages may be conflated, be more important than others, or even absent. As such, the interactions and interlinkages between the different phases are complex.

The culture cycle shows that a great number of stakeholders, from market and non-market sectors, are involved throughout the value chain of cultural expressions: creators, producers, distributors, public institutions, professional organizations, etc. Partnerships bringing together the know-how and the resources of different collaborators are thus an invaluable working method in the field of cultural expressions.

  • Creation – refers to the inventiveness, exploration and conception of the content that form the raw material for cultural industries. Examples: text, tune, sketch, work of art, etc.
  • Production – is the assembly of all the elements (supplies, equipment, professionals) necessary for the realization (materialization) of cultural expressions. Examples: television programmes, books, music recordings, etc.
  • Dissemination – involves the bringing of generally mass-produced cultural expressions to the public. Examples: delivery and commercialization in wholesale and retail, online sale, screening of a film, a live performance (concert, festivals, etc.).
  • Exhibition/reception/transmission – refers to audience-oriented activities that facilitate understanding of a cultural work or the marketing methods used to build audience. Examples: documentation of a cultural work, media exposure, advertising, market analyses, etc.
  • Consumption/participation – is the audience or general public using cultural products and participating in cultural experiences, including practicing as amateurs. Examples: reading a book, dancing, listening to the radio, visiting an art gallery, etc.

See an example from the music industry (PDF)


For more information:

The culture cycle (UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics)

                                                                                                   Illustration © Adrénaline Production

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