Identifying opportunities for small cultural parks to build regional relevance: A social and spatial network analysis approach to measures of leverage

Authors: Elizabeth Perry*, Michigan State University, Brian Peterson, Kansas State University
Topics: Protected Areas, Recreational and Sport Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: park, social network analysis, New Hampshire, rural studies, visitor use management, collaboration, partnership, cultural resources, national park, regional studies, recreation, art, history
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 43
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Parks defined mostly by their cultural resources often tell stories of place and speak to human experiences transcending place. Destination visitors to these parks are passionate - traveling far to experience these parks - yet they are also small in number and usually single-visit. Looking closer to home, local audiences provide an opportunity for these parks to connect more consistently with more people. Cultural parks can make these meaningful connections by contributing to regional stories of place and fostering place identity and pride. However, they are often limited by small staff sizes and budgets. Thus, they must work to create and sustain these local connections not through strategic collaborations. The question then is, how? How can a small cultural park identify strategic collaborations for relevance across the local geographic region? In this paper, we explore this question with Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park (SAGA) in New Hampshire, U.S. We examined local networks of existing and desired collaborations among organizations related to SAGA's themes of engagement for a type of strategy: leverage points. Inter-organizational and cross-time comparisons in the social network analysis provided insight into topical and current/future leverage points: key organizations (i.e., "core") for SAGA engagement with its limited staff and budge and lesser engaged organizations (i.e., periphery) desiring further inclusion. Adding a spatial component of organization locations and distance from SAGA, we provide a third measure of leverage: regional clusters of core and periphery organizations. Collectively, these provide opportunity to examine strategic collaboration and inclusion topically, temporally, and spatially.

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