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Thinking Culturally About Place and People: The Cultural Planning Approach Lia Ghilardi Kent Cultural Summit III, 19th April 2010, East Malling Conference Centre

“Work of art”

“The city in its complete sense, then, is a geographical plexus, an economic organisation, an institutional process, a theatre of social action, and an aesthetic symbol of collective unity.” Lewis Mumford

Ecosystems and not machines

Patrick Geddes: “Planning has to start with a survey of the resources of a natural region (whose ingredients are Folk-Work-Place), and of the human response to such a natural region.” Jane Jacobs: “The city is as an ecosystem composed of physical-economic-ethical processes interacting with each other in a natural flow.”

Fast forward to the 1980s...1990s... and now

‣Focus on urban improvements and regeneration as a tool for economic repositioning of localities.

‣Concentration on iconic cultural statements. ‣Convergence between the economic and cultural dimensions.

Generalised anxiety (policy anxiety too)

People, place, policy




Integrated approaches

Need for methods and tools capable of linking: ‣ Culture, place and economic development. ‣ Cultural resources to quality of life agenda. ‣ Local distinctiveness with diversity (the new, and the ‘other’). ‣ Culture and citizenship.

Cultural Planning

Cultural Planning is a culturally sensitive approach to local development. It uses a broad definition of culture: “Culture is what counts as culture for those who participate in it.” Thus it helps us to step out of the confines of the ‘arts agenda’. It implies an understanding of the local cultural ecology, resources and place DNA. It’s about distinctiveness. It is about managing cultural resources and matching them to local needs.

“A timeless way of building places and communities�

People-centred - by mapping local communities’ different components and diverse resources. Positive - it focuses on assets rather than deficits. Holistic and cross-boundary (across departments, services, disciplines, professions). Proactive Local stakeholders collaborate and jointly create a vision of what's best for a locality. A creative process leading to the shared delivery of imaginative solutions.

Tools: Urban and cultural DNA mapping


‣ ‣ ‣

Place (landscape, history, architecture, urban texture, perceptions, etc.) and institutions (cultural, educational, health, etc.) People (memory, social networks, informal networks, perceptions of place, affiliations, lifestyles, etc.) Economy (traditional skills, contemporary creative industries, current dynamics, issues, potential, etc.)

Cultural Planning - culture at the centre

‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣

Supports, adds value and builds on local cultural ecology. In touch with local needs and aspirations. Local leadership. Joined up approach. Creative process demanding imaginative solutions. Builds communities from the inside out.

In my experience

I have used Cultural Planning for the following tasks:

‣ Place marketing/branding ‣ Economic strategies (creative industries mapping and support) ‣ Urban renaissance plans (identify the key cultural elements of ‣ ‣ ‣ ‣

masterplans) Community integration strategies (mapping of community organisations’ aspirations, needs, resources) Cultural plans Public art projects (place identity analysis) Evaluation exercises (cultural partnerships’ effectiveness)

Examples of implementation

EU Capitals of Culture - Glasgow, Liverpool, Lille (scope and mechanisms of delivery) Elements of Cultural Planning - Norwich, Perth (Perthshire), North Kent, East Kent, Newcastle Gateshead (broader understanding of culture, embedding culture and mechanisms of delivery) Cultural Plans - Vancouver (creative thinking and building communities from inside out)

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