Research – Duration, Cultural Programming and Sensemaking

This Ph.D. research by Deirdre MacKenna seeks to understand the role of durational programming in the human sensemaking processes. The case study was devised as part of the public programme of Cultural Documents, and the durational period was from 2014 to February 2018; the Stories and Events on this website were examined as part of this case study.

The case study programme comprises one-day and multi-day events, texts and ongoing dialogues. These were produced for the two situations in which the constituents who engaged with the programme live and work; the heritage/home location (Filignano and Venafro in Molise, Italy) and the diaspora/other locations (Scotland, France, Australia). Additional events presenting Cultural Documents’ work were produced by delivery partners, including museums, galleries, publications, festivals, conferences and other platforms. The programme enabled the constituents to consider, reflect upon and make sense of matters of common concern relating to memory, place and human migration and their impact upon identity, community, language, territory and terrain.

The thesis demonstrates the work of the cultural programmer within two new diagrams which have been devised as a conceptual framework for considering the impact of the case study: a new ‘stakeholders model’ which is made up of two groups comprising the programme group and the consumers group, and illustrates the core characteristics and dynamics between stakeholders in the programming arena, and a new ‘programme model’ which is intended to demonstrate a method of sustained engagement with cultural content which deepens and alters the impact of individual, momentary events.

The study refers to durational time in reference to Henri Bergson’s thinking, and definitions of sense-making from Karl Weik and Deborah Ancona in order to argue that the durational aspect of programming requires recognition of the durational nature of time. Through its aims of raising awareness of and changing existing attitudes towards the durational cultural programme as an entity, this research examines the case study as a model of a cultural programme which contributes to discourses and interpretations of duration and sensemaking.

Deirdre MacKenna has been awarded a Ph.D. candidacy by The University of Dundee and is funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom Doctoral Award (full funding and maintenance for Ph.D). and is supervised by Dr. Euan McArthur.