Research protocol, Mexico City

1. Context

In recent years, the Municipal Government of Mexico City has developed pioneering national public policies that promote the role of culture as a cross-cutting element of sustainable development in cities. This has been done through international guidelines such as Agenda 21 for culture and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.1


In 2008, the Ministry of Culture for Mexico City created the Imagination in Motion: Cultural Businesses and Enterprises programme with the aim of strengthening the independent, sustainable management of cultural heritage, as well as cultural and artistic resources, while also expanding the entrepreneurial capacities of artists and creators across disciplines and generations. Furthermore, the programme sought to support cultural ventures through the creation of networks and alliances between artists, managers, technical staff, and artisans so as to strengthen the social fabric.


Since then, this programme has helped implement mechanisms for the sustainability of the cultural sector, providing technical and administrative tools for the development and implementation of projects. It has also established methodologies for the design, development, and monitoring of cultural initiatives, reaching some 6,000 managers, artists, creators, and other actors in the arts and culture sphere.


Collaborations took place with the boroughs in order to endow the programme with new approaches to economic policy, particularly with regard to insertion into the creative economy, copyright, and the creation of cultural businesses. A fruitful collaborative dialogue has been facilitated between the Ministry of Culture and the Secretariat of Economic Development of Mexico City (SEDECO), as well as the Fund for Social Development of Mexico City (FONDESO). Partnerships have also been established with the Ministry of Labour and Employment Promotion, as well as with other social development agencies.


Since 2013, Imagination in Motion has worked with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) and the National Copyright Institute (INDAUTOR) to focus on innovation and new technologies aimed at young entrepreneurs through the Mexico City Laboratory. These partnerships have collaborated with the National Chamber of Industry (CANACINTRA) and with the National Chamber of Commerce, Services, and Tourism in Álvaro Obregón. They also collaborate with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) through the Research Seminar on the Knowledge Society and Cultural Diversity.

Creating the Imagination in Motion programme has highlighted the need to systematise data collection on the arts and culture sector. The sphere is usually characterised by precarious economic circumstances, and historically has been sustained, to a larger extent, by inconsistent and limited public subsidies.


To understand the makeup of the arts and culture sector, distribution throughout the city, growth potential, characteristics of different branches of creation and production, as well as a number of other factors are essential to defining public policies focused on dynamics, stakeholders, and productive, technological, or social aspects. The overall goal is to strengthen the city's cultural development.


That is why on October 20, 2016, a collaboration agreement was signed between Mexico City's Ministry of Culture and its Economic and Social Council (CES) in order to jointly assess arts and culture communities across the city. Subsequently, Secretary of Culture Eduardo Vázquez Martín was formally appointed as Executive Secretary of the Committee of Cultural Initiatives and Industries. Dr. Lucina Jiménez López became the adviser to the Committee and the coordinator for research that guided the formation of comprehensive public policies on the city's sustainable cultural development. This project was called: Current Status, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Artistic, Cultural, and Creative Community of Mexico City Research Protocol.


2. The project

The Current Status, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Artistic, Cultural, and Creative Community of Mexico City Research Protocol is a pioneering initiative by the Mexico City government under the Agenda 21 for culture international framework. The project aims to establish analysis methods that make it possible to propose new public policy instruments for strengthening conditions for creative processes which benefit creators and artists, and which contribute significantly to Mexico City's cultural richness and diversity.

This research aimed to help establish local capacities in community cultural development, as well as in the area of economy and culture. The latter is one of the strategic areas that Mexico City set up to implement Agenda 21 for culture. Within this framework, the Imagination in Motion: Cultural Businesses and Enterprises programme was created and recognised as a good practice.2


The research protocol is fundamental to monitoring and standardising the "Imagination in Motion" programme. As a result, this process may be comparable and compatible with other cities around the world that are interested in the connections between culture and economy. The project will also establish common ground through partnerships and learning between equals.


Research has been carried out on infrastructure and cultural consumption in Mexico City, but the conditions under which the creation, production, circulation, and benefitting of cultural, artistic, and creative goods and services takes place have not yet been fully studied. The investigation into the Current Status, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Artistic, Cultural, and Creative Community of Mexico City will address this gap. It will also shed light on the employment, fiscal, and economic status of members of the cultural community, as well as their geographical location, mobility, interdisciplinary movement, cooperation networks, and access to financing services.



2.1. Theoretical Framework


Analysis of Artists and Creators as a Social Class in Mexico City

The theoretical framework is based on the need to establish relevant concepts to support the idea that artists, creative minds, and entrepreneurs are key agents in wealth production and innovation. It is also based on the need to legitimise the design and implementation of specific policies, which support sustainability for creative processes and also further cultural diversity and development in Mexico City.


For decades, the predominant tendency has been to view the work of artists and creators as merely voluntary or vocational, disassociated from regular employment or a decent adequately paid profession, and unrelated to business management or marketing. This describes a global problem that UNESCO has tried to focus on and which involves an in-depth analysis of the "Status of the Artist". An assessment must consider the economic foundations of all artistic or cultural production without the loss of ethical, aesthetic, or symbolic value inherent in certain social contexts.

The Status of the Artist/Creator: A Challenge with an International Focus

Today, several countries such as Uruguay and Spain are making progress in legislation and in defining specific public policies for artists. This came after UNESCO updated the "Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist" in 2014, which urges governments to improve the economic, social, and professional conditions of artists.

In this study, after a number of attempts to develop public policies around the status of the artist, Mexico has sought to define the status of presently active artists. The inquiry is not focused on prioritising artistic or cultural disciplines, but rather in establishing valid nomenclature for analysing and improving the sector, thereby making it possible for cultural life to become a reality.


The Cultural Sector, Creative Economy, and Economic Entities of Cultural Diversity

Both across Mexico and in Mexico City, the symbolic, aesthetic, and identity value of artistic creations converted into cultural goods and services, has increasingly been recognised as an essential component of cultural diversity. As outlined in Agenda 21 for culture, this change in attitude has even been seen as a powerful tool for fomenting a culture of peace and strengthening a development model that is based on more than economic value. More weight has also been given to the autonomy of art and creative freedom of the artist, which are essential bases that empower people to exercise their rights to freedom of expression.


While public policies have been very tentative to reflect on the creative economy and the economy of culture from the perspective of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), this research will analyse and define concepts such as cultural industries, creative industries, creativity and innovation, as well as Cultural Initiatives and Enterprises and Economic Entities, to contextualise the diverse forms cultural and artistic resource management. Likewise, the research will also address concepts such as cultural entrepreneurship and the cultural sector from the point of view of economic development and sustainability.3


Cultural and Artistic Activities in Mexico City's Creative Economy

In accordance with the assessment by the UNESCO Framework for Cultural Statistics and the Satellite Account of Mexico, in addition to those made by other relevant bodies, the following are activities to be considered in this study:4

1.         Artistic Production, Museology, and Cultural Management

2.         Performing Arts and Shows

3.         Visual and Fine Arts

4.         Music and Concerts

5.         Literature, Publishing, and Reading

6.         Dance

7.         Creative Arts and Crafts (not considered at this stage)

8.         Audiovisual and Interactive Media

9.         Design and Creative Services


3. Objectives and Project Implementation


3.1. Specific and Overall Goals


The general objective of the research protocol is to complete a comprehensive diagnosis of the creative, cultural, and arts sector of Mexico City. This would help identify its size, characteristics, range, challenges, potential and areas of opportunity for intersectorial public policy in the creative economy.


Specific Research Objectives for the "Current Status, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Artistic, Cultural, and Creative Community of Mexico City" Research Protocol:

  1. Identify creators, artists, and imaginative individuals that are part of this sector in Mexico City.
  2. Create a registry that finds their socio-geographical location (where they create and live).
  3. Record academic and/or professional training journeys, as well as collaborative networks that are physical and/or technological or international cooperation networks.
  4. Identify their ability to generate employment.
  5. Understand access to sources of financing for the development of their projects and the main taxation system(s).

3.2. Scope of the Project


The research will focus on the members of the creative, cultural, and artistic community in Mexico City who have diverse training backgrounds, creative experience, dissemination networks, spaces for expression, and who generate different products and services that contribute both to the city's cultural life and to the creative economy of one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world.


While the artisanal sector is part of the artistic, cultural, and creative community of Mexico City, and is characterised by its diversity and dialogue between tradition and innovation, its breadth, distinctiveness, and complexity require a separate study, which will be carried out at a later stage.


In accordance with the fields outlined in the theoretical framework, the research focuses on the 16 boroughts and will factor in stakeholders that facilitate diversity in Mexico City's artistic and creative cultural production for varying disciplines.


Although Imagination in Motion is public policy in Mexico City, and thus in a Federal Entity under the country's political and administrative structure, the surrounding municipalities of Greater Mexico City (ZMCM) are not considered part of the study area.



3.3. Methodology and Initial Stages


For the scope and objective of this research, a mixed methodology and multiple strategies will be used, which includes quantitative, qualitative, and documentary research.


There are two stages:

In the first stage the existing information will be compiled, systematised, and analysed in order to build an exploratory empirical framework that will define the context of the artistic, cultural, and creative community in Mexico City. Information will be gathered on the cultural sector that until now has been generated at a national and international level. To this end, an investigation will be conducted that will yield quantitative data from all public, private, and civil institutions that carry out activities directly related to art and culture. It will also consider data taken from participants in the Imagination in Motion over the last eight years.

The main product of this phase will be to generate indicators, variables to be studied, and to design instruments for the field research and qualitative interviews that will be carried out.

This phase will involve working on:

  1. National and international documentary reviews for developing the theoretical framework and the status of art
  2. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of the databases of the Ministry of Culture
  3. Data collection from institutions, be they public, private, or civil society organisations, that have relationships with creators and artists in Mexico City, in order to scale up certain disciplines
  4. Pilot tests on data collection instruments in subsequent field work

Fieldwork will be carried out during the second stage. This phase will be made up of four steps:

  1. A qualitative approach through interviews with two groups of actors: specialists and members of the artistic, cultural, and creative community in Mexico City. This phase will foster an interpretative understanding and refine indicators in the questionnaire.
  2. A quantitative approach with a questionnaire for a sample group from artistic and creative communities across the 16 boroughs, which will make it possible to collect, analyse, and interpret hard data to measure the status of a given community.5
  1. The creation of a digital platform where the self-identification questionnaire will be available to artists and creators who shall meet the required characteristics in order to be considered
  2. Final qualitative estimate, in which interviews with key informants will be conducted to supplement, develop, and elaborate on any issues that were raised or require further examination

Subsequently, the results will be published in a final report that will synthesise the analyses and interpretations made during the different stages of the research. This report will be preceded by a preliminary report.6



3.4. Work Timetable









Proposal writing











Documentary research







Online information and web research











Systematisation of current data









Assessing the status of art











Preparing a report on systematisation












First draft












Analysis of the SIC database












Processing the SIC database










Report writing












Advances in indicator development










Final draft















4. Continuity

This research is essential for building upon the recommendations made under the implementation of Agenda 21 for culture The document describes the Imagination in Motion programme as a good practice related to Agenda 21 for culture, and also establishes the fact that:

“The Federal District government (today, Mexico City) is studying ways to make this programme one of its priority initiatives by systematising the experience and producing an analysis of diagnostic data accumulated throughout the programme. The aim is to bolster government alliances and relationships with other sectors, to finance cultural projects and/or cultural businesses as seed capital, grant resources, and soft credit, defined according to the scale of the projects. It also strives to create an inter-institutional or mixed fund with private capital for biannual budgets, due to differences between incubation times for businesses and the fiscal cycles of public administration. Another aim is to establish both quantitative and qualitative evaluation indicators, as well as to develop methodological tools to carry out other impact assessments.”7


As a result, the Current Status, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Artistic, Cultural, and Creative Community of Mexico City Research Protocol is fundamental to monitoring the Imagination in Motion: Cultural Businesses and Enterprises programme. Thanks to the project's systematisation, and the collection of data and indicators, this experience can be reproduced in other cities around the world that are interested in both deepening the relationship between culture and economy, and in creating or strengthening partnerships with Mexico City.



5. More information

Complete document: Current Status, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Artistic, Cultural and Creative Community of Mexico City

This document was written by Deborah Chenillo, Ministry of Culture of Mexico City, and Lucina Jiménez, Director of ConArte and expert on Agenda 21 for culture.

Contact: chenillito1 (at)



1   Mexico City is co-chair of the Committee on Culture, part of the global organisation United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) that is based on the founding document, Agenda 21 for culture. With its experience, Mexico City is a Leading City on these guidelines.

Also see glossary on culture and economy included (p. 36)

See details in Appendix I "Classifications of Cultural and Artistic Activities".

5 See Appendix II, "Methodological note and questionnaire for fieldwork on the Challenges, and Opportunities in the Artistic, Cultural, and Creative Community of Mexico City".

6   See section 6, "Deliverables", for more detailed information on the products of the research.

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Reserch protocol