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Creative rural places: A study of cultural industries in Stroud, UK

Conefrey, Carmel Marie

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Carmel Marie Conefrey


This thesis explores how different geographical places and space shape the way cultural industries work. In a departure from much of the existing literature, this study focuses on rurally based industries. In particular, it seeks to identify the ways in which and the extent to which a rural setting shapes the workings of rurally based cultural industries. A rural focus will help to broaden the intellectual knowledge base and adds to an emerging body of economic geography inspired study that is looking to refocus the cultural industries research agenda away from a pre-occupation with cities.
The rural dimension is examined through a study of visual arts and crafts industries in the Stroud District, Gloucestershire, UK. The empirical phase was steered by the notion of the production system and the analytical lenses of spatial organisation, relationships and place. Mixed methods were used to generate qualitative and quantitative data and in the case of the latter, included personal network data. The empirical phase was sequential, leading with an on-line questionnaire for individual practitioners, followed by a set of semi-structured interviews with actors from the range of processes that comprise the visual arts and crafts production system.
The Stroud study challenges the notion that cultural industries are quintessentially city phenomena. Of the three analytical lenses, the place dimension proved particularly potent for understanding the Stroud Case. The findings show a place based community of practitioners and a number of art businesses, some of national repute, and an active cultural infrastructure - networked principally through inter-personal relationships. A rural dimension was evident in terms of the scale of activity, the functioning of the local milieu and particular perceptions towards cultural products produced by rurally based practitioners. The impact of the rural setting was not experienced uniformly but was contingent on the status of the practitioner and the visual arts and crafts discipline practised. The analysis has practical implications for policy developers particularly at a local authority level.


Conefrey, C. M. Creative rural places: A study of cultural industries in Stroud, UK. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Keywords place, networks, cultural industries, rural, visual arts, crafts, creative industries
Public URL
Award Date Sep 1, 2014


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