The report’s overarching proposal is the need to develop ‘caring’ approaches to supporting cultural learning ecologically. Following Joan Tronto’s account of the four characteristics of care,2 this means developing practices of managing cultural ecosystems that are not only ecologically competent (effective in cultivating and sustaining vibrant interconnections), but which are – through the approaches they develop to partnership working and creative citizenship – attentive and responsive to the views and needs of young people, and responsible for the health of the ecosystem as a whole.
Ecological language is increasingly evident in cultural policy and practice. In his 2015 report, The Ecology of Culture, John Holden conducted a literature review of research in this area and interviewed 38 cultural practitioners around the UK. He explains that the term ‘cultural ecology’ has been used within the discipline of anthropology since the 1950s. It means, “the study of human adaptations to social and physical environments.” But the use of the word ecology in relation to the cultural sector is a more recent phenomenon. Two reports from 2004, published almost simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, but written without any contact between the authors, employ ‘ecology’ as a metaphor (Holden (2004), Rand (2005)). These may not be date the idea that the cultural sector can be thought about in ecological terms became more widespread. (Holden, 2015: 5).