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1. Presentation and analysis of successful cultural planning strategies

Chapter 1: Presentation and analysis of successful examples of strategic cultural planning of cities from the international and specifically from the European space, with special emphasis on valorization of cultural heritage – reinforcement of indigenous cultural production – development of cultural tourism.


It is common knowledge that many people are frustrated by the lack of progress made with regards to sustainable development. Consequently they do not think very highly of politicians but leave very often out in their criticism the fact that culture is too often excluded from the usual decision making process. The latter is almost exclusively geared towards economic success stories and what financial means are available for any local administration. Thus a cultural turning point is needed in order that cities adopt cultural planning and this in the realization that cultural resources are not given, but in need to be invested in and to be left free to develop so as to alter and give shape to community life.

Since dealing with a study, this entails itself something like extra knowledge on which decisions can be based. Here needs to be taken into consideration all kinds of denials of experts as if cultural planners could act behind the scenes. On the contrary, no successful cultural plan would take shape if it does not entail a comprehensive consultation and participatory process involving all actors, institutions and forces within the city. And there has to be related consciously to this collective wish for a fulfilled life in a city. Otherwise people move out or on if their cultural needs are not satisfied. This includes not merely good museums, exciting theatrical performances but also artistic challenges since the imaginary power set free by innovative practices in galleries gives already to the city a degree of openness to take risks otherwise missing if values and tastes cannot be challenged and everything is done has been before and this for many ages. Culture is a key to innovation and change; it is at the same time a way towards a continuity of life despite all changes. With it goes identity and meaning of place and thus the 'local factor' especially in a global world takes on extra value if not inter exchangeable with any other place. There is, however, the danger that more and more places begin to look all alike just as James Clifford would write already in 1988 about the 'predicament of culture' which comes with Coca-Cola being sold everywhere and the shopping malls just the same as in London, New York or Hong Kong, if only a bit larger.

Commercialization bears that risk to put but a single stamp on life with the added risk to be without compassion for retaining the special flavor of the locality. The mayor Boutari for Thessaloniki confronts therefore local shop keepers who wish to be like the merchants in Hong Kong with advertisement signs even up on the tenth floor, but that does not go well with a Mediterranean port city where the founder of modern Turkey was born. Hence the mayor attempts to entice Turkish tourists to come to the city and this by making use of some key concepts known to cultural tourism, namely how a local place stands to gain through originality, authenticity and reputation, so that experiences made while visiting the city become a part of lived through experiences.  Interestingly enough, he believes changes cannot be brought about in a piecemeal fashion but by attempting all at once there has to be created the chance of a real break-through. Otherwise nothing will change and therefore increase the risk that still further mistakes shall be made. The previous administrative council was deeply involved in all kinds of financial scam schemes and explains in part for the huge deficit the city has to face now. A practical lesson can be drawn already out of this example: it does not pay to give in to commercial interests if it would mean sacrificing all other cultural values such as honesty and truthfulness.

Still, politicians are responsible for the decisions they do take, including to which advice they listen. And they need to know the consequences of the policies they have adopted by engaging themselves in an ongoing evaluation. Yet very few of them are really willing to commit themselves to measurable indicators, for that could easily prove the opposite and therefore expose them to the negative image of being a failure. Therefore politicians tend to agree to use only such indicators which prove that their policy choices made while in office have all been successful.

The risk such a superficial approach to culture entails is a double one: not really looking at what is happening in reality and supporting only such studies and evaluations which support what they have already decided to be a successful path of development. Often this means a lot of money is put into public relations exercises. It goes so far as Bob Palmer referring to European Capitals of Culture using more spin doctors than wishing a true account and therefore face openly what was a cultural failure, namely to invest in such a way that not more festivals but a true cultural development would be brought about. The latter goes without saying together with investing in people and not only in what are so-called spin offs from investments creating opportunities for business to capitalize on some key cultural event.

Thus a precise description of political failure to deal with environmental, economic and social issues is that the criterion of success overrides any other ones. Success links politics only to the wish to know merely what factors can be affected by policy and therefore has a positive outcome. This nearly mechanistic approach falls short of any cultural reflection about real failures, never mind does not even allow the use of planning for purpose of advancing in terms of cultural development.

If that is the case, another look has to be taken at what defines successful cultural planning strategies. Success can be considered here as an elongation of the political wish to affect something. But caution is needed before drawing here simple conclusions. For culture is the most difficult thing to evaluate according to Eric Antonis, artistic director of Antwerp '93 when European Capital of Culture.

Success would mean in a true cultural term becoming open to doubt, since the prerequisite for innovation and the creation of something new. By allowing the creative handling of doubt to ensure an open ended process, it means politicians do not demand immediate success but give leeway of doubt in terms of long term investments. Here experience can show that cultural resources need to be developed over time, and this in a most consistent way e.g. financing a house of literature for ten years is not nearly enough time to begin seeing a few returns of this kind of investment, but when linked to such a concept as city poet who shall develop projects over the three year period, then some new sensitivities can be expected.

Reformulated in operational terms with a distinct goal, cultural planning includes all those things which allow, promote and make possible the ‘unfolding of culture’ or as the EU resolution would circumscribe, ‘the flowering of the cultures’.

A successful cultural planning strategy allows the city to recognize fully the cultural resources it has, while its administrators learn to enter dialogues with artists and citizens, in order to use culture as evaluation for what kind of strategy is suited most to develop further these cultural resources, in order to sustain a cultural way of life. As Eric Antonis would stress, culture is the most difficult thing to evaluate. It can only be made tangible by making experiences with culture.

1.1 Cities

For instance, the city poet of Antwerp is developing a notion of poetic attentivity towards people readily forgotten i.e. when they die, they are buried outside the city in a cemetery no one remembers, and to counter this, he has a poet read a special written poem for such a person at risk to be buried after his or her death in only anonymity. It is hard to prove in concrete terms what this shall do to the feeling and self esteem of people living in Antwerp, but since death is always hardy to confront, not to be forgotten can add to having a special feeling of being someone and not just anyone. It can alter in a most substantial way the self-understanding of people and alter the way they live but also are prepared to die whenever that natural cause comes. This qualitative indicator of feeling to be recognized as a human being can be linked to this overall notion of 'cultural well-being', and which is something in need to be kept in mind when wishing to understand what can make a cultural planning strategy to be truly successful with the people who live in that city.

1.1.1 Planning, development and culture

Urban plans of cities have often been reduced to zoning stipulations while a greater outreach of the city meant planning an industrial park in order to attract inward investments.

The kind of economic development envisioned was bound to be linked to real estate and making sure investments in profitable enterprises gave to the locality extra advantages. It would mean provision of jobs while taking advantages of what the city had to offer e.g. easy access to roads, highly qualified labor force, universities with ongoing research to link up with and moreover a growing population which meant demand for housing, schools, shopping malls etc. It became almost a standard procedure to think of cities as marketing opportunities. In this way functionalization and specialization of space was unavoidable i.e. suburbs for residential purposes while down town was located the commercial centre. Over time this framed and complex composition of the city constitutes a kind of blending of local with international influences to shape a way of life.

There is a kind of co-existence of different activities within various sectors of the city that outlines its overall disposition. While children go to school, business men will convene to map their future investment strategies. Such a reflection of ongoing life in all its varieties and diversities seeks its own way of expressing itself, may that be through the kind of housing or advertising impregnating the city. As a matter of fact, things are shaped according to taste, fashions but also single events. The latter can suddenly alter the entire profile of the city. For example, when  Montreal hosted in 1967 the World Exhibition, it transformed not only the city, but the whole of Canada. For the first time cultural venues were put first on the priority list for future investments and what public tasks lie ahead. Since then almost every city in Canada followed through with the construction of an own cultural centre. Often a multi-functional building to allow for the hosting of different performances i.e. orchestra, theatre, but also hosting of party conventions and big conferences, it was putting the city on the map of leading orchestras and performers.

Here then became already noticable how cities aim to put themselves on the map. The idea of having a huge conference centre meant the creation of something like a flag ship for all kinds of activities. The size was incredible as these centres were designed to handle multi events at the same time and more than 5 000 people at a time. Automatically it meant the surrounding area had to make entrance to the building accessible. It had often the consequence of picking such a location which was close to freeways and other transportation linkages e.g. rail or buses, but also would be put in the vicinity of other similar venues e.g. in Berlin the Europe Centre was directly besides the fair grounds used for hosting such events as the annual tourist fair. The attraction of many people at a certain time contrasted sharply with an enormous silence prevailing when no activities were scheduled. For security reasons that raises a concern as it means usually these buildings were constructed without thought about the need for supportive informal structures i.e. from small shops to people living and working daily in the vicinity.

1.1.2 Cultural planning strategies of cities


1.2 Types of cultural planning strategies (refinement of planning methodology, citizens participation, cultural mapping)


1.2.1 International References


1.2.2 Canada, Creative City Network


1.2.3 United States of America


1.3 European References

Galway, Ireland

When the Article 10 ERDF project CIED held its first conference in Galway 1997, local citizens protested against all the sweeping changes due to new business ventures and investment schemes. They saw only business seeking ways to capitalize on a rapidly growing city i.e. business expansion leading to more customers and therefore to further growth.

Galway had become thanks to its festival a success story. There was not only a constant influx of visitors and tourists but people of all kinds and professions started to move to Galway. New hotels and other business ventures sprang up; housing development took off while retail located its branches outside the city to serve a larger population. As a result of these and other developments the local people grew afraid that the meaning of place could no longer be retained. However, their feelings of apprehension were articulated really for the first time and in public at the CIED conference in 1997 since it gave them a floor to voice their concern.

It should be noted at that time CIED met up with Michael D. Higgins, now President of Ireland. He had been a most vocal spokesperson for cultural policy to give space for citizens to participate.

Consequently it can be said that a successful cultural planning strategy will bring about a continuity of identity within a particular place and this despite all of the changes going on. Change can mean economic upheavals but it can if managed well include new ways to preserve the cultural heritage of the place. The latter pertains especially to this intangible aspect as to what meanings people give to certain streets or as pointed out in Galway where ancient burial grounds exist in the form of a small hill in the park beside the river.

Change can only be managed so far but without adding the voice of the cultural sector the administration of the city would be hopelessly over demanded. There are obvious limits to the type of city management which the legacy of the Thatcher year has left behind. This was clearly shown in Galway. Only certain cultural characteristics were retained to reinforce the Gaelic identity but not, for instance, that of a small community of skilled sailors. The people of that community had stayed apart from the city of Galway. As skillful sailors who never used a compass and yet roamed along the coast like boys and girls would nowadays on their surf boards, they represented a free spirit. They never succumbed to British rule. Unfortunately they were brought only to their knees by a court injunction claiming their village on pillars had proven to be unhealthy. This happened in the mid thirties of the twentieth century when they were relocated across the street passing the space along the bay where there stood once their village on pillars.

It shows how repeatedly in history health reasons can be cited to introduce some of the harshest and most reactionary forms of interventions. That was the case of the French Commune after the French Revolution as explained by Jean Pierre Faye onhand of a health police being introduced and thereby stamping out in reality the true revolutionary spirit once Robespierre had secured over Danton his moralistic grip on power. This story continues when Roma camps are bulldozed over either outside Paris or Istanbul. Even in Ancient Greece a community stamped as having been infected by filth, lice and lies leading on to petty crimes was always a scorn of the more well established society which had given in to conventions and grown afraid of an unconventional life linked to the freedom of the human spirit.


1.4 Key factors to consider: cultural heritage, indigenous knowledge and cultural tourism


1.4.1 Valorization of cultural heritage

Valorization of cultural heritage was exemplified by the City of Palermo as partner of the Article 10 ERDF project CIED. In 1997 the mayor Orlando had begun to fight the Mafia which had until then occupied the historical centre while driving building speculations on the outskirts of the city to new heights. The building stop meant a release of funds to be used for restoration of cultural heritage. The opera house was opened for the first time after a more than twenty year closure. Crucial was that everyone shared this value given to cultural heritage. It made common decision making easier.

The CIED project thematized as well the difference between cultural heritage associated with Ancient Greece and therefore archaeological sites and industrial heritage.

In the follow-up Interreg III B project HERMES a distinction was made as well between tangible and intangible heritage, and this parallel to efforts by UNESCO to have intangible heritage being recognized throughout the world.

Experiences and memories

As to cultural resources, it has to include meanings people give to places and to each other. In turn, it gives places and events a special colouring. Linked to memories, they restore constantly a sense of continuity in life. As such it makes up ‘intangible heritage’, something recognized by ICOMOS in 2004 for the international day of museums.

Tangible and intangible cultural heritage

Out of knowledge were tangible and intangible cultural resources exist, there can be developed cultural plans. They can be created anew by bringing people at specific locations together, but also another way is to understand what ‘cultural maps’ people have themselves. Every personal maps distinguishes familiar streets from unknown territories or areas maybe entered only once, but never again, while changes in the city force a remapping of the cultural landscape depending whether people live in the centre of the city or in the suburbs. That means maps depend also what transport means people need to go about. Lucky seem to be those who can reach things on foot and who have home and work place not so far apart that they depend on either private car or public transport to reach their destinies. Consequently a crucial cultural planning intervention would be to affect the maps of everyone especially by creating events in the city which enter the imaginary map makers’ consideration for future possibilities to go when looking out for meeting other people or to be just at a spot where things happen.


1.4.2 Upgrading of the knowledge base of the city to include the knowledge of indigenous groups


1.4.3 Alter in particular the city’s profile so as to make possible the development of cultural tourism as one of the key economic sectors.

In Greece, tourism plays a special role since the country is the destiny of about 16 million visitors a year. When compared to a population of around 10,5 million, it means every place has to cope with the huge fluctuation between the quiet winter months and the hectic sommer ones. It can happen that a village housing during the winter not more than 500 residents suddenly faces 20 000 during the peak times. And it is not the mere quantity of people alone which overdemands local services (water, electricity, waste, health etc.). Rather over commercialization along with tour operators and tourist enterprises working with agents entail an infrastructure which has very little to do with the local place and much more with tourism as a global business.

Naturally a city like Volos faces a similar dilemma as Athens does when it comes to having visitors not just passing through but to entice them to stay more than just one and a half day needed to visit some famous museums but then head right away for one of the many islands. For a long time, the concept of tourism in Greece was linked to beaches i.e. spending time beside the sea. With it go certain eating habits for breakfast, lunch and supper. Around these three specific meal times can be organized extra activities such as boat trips to secluded bays and even golf courses promoted for a while by politicians and investors crazy enough to think this is a feasible alternative to previous forms of tourism.

The key questions posed often in conjunction with tourism is whether quantity is preferred to those with high income. The latter drove tourist developments in the direction of luxury hotels, yatch clubs, scuba diving along with some other special features, including religious tourism, creative writing centres, eco tourism and sport related activities (bicycle, motorcycle cross country etc.). Alone the diversification was an indication that tourism was no longer defined through a single item of attraction, but there had to be catered for different interests e.g. families with children preferring hotels with recreation facilities for the children.

In all of these aspects something was missing but which is taken up by the notion of cultural tourism, even though often with a misconception. Certainly the Ministry of Culture would argue extension and enlargement of archaeological and cultural heritage sites by making them both accessible and modernized (in the form of new museum displays) would attract well educated tourists who would extend their trip to these sites by visiting local places out of a wish to get to know certain parts of Greece. This notion of extended interest leading from one aspect to the next entails already a crucial term for cultural tourism, for what is entailed in this notion of a wish 'to get to know better a country and its cultural heritage?'

Naturally Greece has a lot to offer in terms of a variety of cultural heritage from ancient times to modern or more recent ones. The latter does include industrial heritage which has been put to new use by becoming cultural centres e.g. Gazi works in Athens, the former brick factory Tsalapatas in Volos, etc. This effort to broaden the scope of cultural heritage to include industrial and intangible heritage was strengthened by efforts to bring everything up to date for the decisive Olympic year of 2004 and subsequent developments related to people wishing to get to know Greece even more so.

When Jorgios Papandreou decided to join Tourism with Culture by making it into one Ministry after having assumed power in 2009, nothing else was behind such a move but the notion of using culture for purpose of economic development i.e. tourism related activities. That would entail fore mostly the Athens festival and other events which could attract people on a large scale basis. But while the festival idea can be extended to such a successful one as the Kalamata dance festival, it is not as of yet a viable and thought through concept of cultural tourism for which further specifications need to be worked out.

1.4.4 Examples of cities in combination of the three factors (cultural heritage, indigenous cultural production and development of cultural tourism) when giving shape to cultural planning

1.5 Assessment of cultural planning strategies adopted by cities

1.5.1 Examples of failed planning strategies


Examples of failed planning strategies

Land use in cities becomes an intricate matter affected by property value, differences between private and public interests in use of urban spaces and various interpretations of what should be the role of public policy. All this and more leads to various kinds of exploitations of public spaces and thereby of the cultural resources these spaces entail. Very often it happens without taking care of these cultural resources.

The negative 'cutural' footprint is a more severe risk to sustainability than what can be imagined. It includes the cultural failure to anticipate as to what shall happen if the current course of development is maintained i.e. no practical consequences drawn out of obvious failures manifesting themselves in various forms and raised issues.

Congestion of traffic will call for planners and traffic engineers to work out solutions but not how a city has to redeem itself with the cultural resources it inherits from the past. Whether monuments, museums, landscapes, and even cultural events which impregnated the various local cultures of the city, they all matter when it comes to resisting that everything is leveled to the ground as if an obstacle to future development.

Building anew on top of the old is naturally a way to describe the development of cities. It is not uncommon to find when digging, for instance, evidence of cultural heritage. When the Metro of Athens was constructed, there was discovered just underneath the street pavement an entire ceramic village. The latter had existed all along, but had been simply covered up by a new road. It seemed to have been done out of no other reason but for expediency. A lot was done out of hurry once it was decided that Athens should become the new capital of Greece after 1821-43. These findings can nowadays be seen in show cases located in the metro station of Syntagma. Along with these findings are pipes of sewage and running water. It is of interest the kind of canalization which existed already then.

A common planning failure would be not to relate the old to the new, and thereby fail to identify the continuity of identity over time. Such a planning would miss out on the kind of dialectic needed to ensure not only that life prevails in the city, but this with a strong sense of continuity.

Other reasons for failure are the following:


Culture can steer a process but vice versa a process can only give to culture a limited orientation as to how people can resolve simple and complex problems of the times they are going through. There is a danger that failed cultural planning strategies reinforce commercialization of culture and with it a neutralization of political consciousness in order to just achieve a given status and so desired profile as if this is already a highly successful life.

1.5.2 Successful cultural planning strategies

Successful cultural planning strategies

Success can be considered here as an elongation of the political wish to affect something positively. More precisely, decisions taken have a positive outcome. It allows for such a development which does not damage nature nor the people in the city, but allows for an unfolding of their creative potentials. It means also that the development gives the city a chance to alter its inner and outer dispositions in such a way that the complexity of life becomes a matter of coordinated activities each of which allows greater freedom to the others. As such it means at social and macro economic level various groups do not interfer with each other but find through forms of cooperation and agreement to a complementary style of living and working together. While the ships dock, the taxi drivers wait in cue to take tourists to their next destinations while the local market functions in supplying the local population with vegetables and meat from the country site.

But caution is needed before getting lost in such a fairy like tale about what is needed for a city to function. Still, social peace is an often under estimated value and only realized when no longer self understood. Hence the drawing of simple conclusions should be avoided, especially since there is not only cooperation and complementarity at stake, but also the kind of 'competition' advocates of the free market refer to and wish to see in order to keep wage costs and food prizes down, so as to stabilize the working of the economy according on factors which can and do guarantee as well a 'successful' i.e. achievable life. People wish within their life time to create a family and see that their children do attend good schools so that they find in the end their way through life and this in the sense of not being a mere bump or a successful lawyer, but as Jean Paul Sartre would put it in terms of 'continuity of life'. For parents do wish that their children continue life as this is never self understood but already a considerable achievement if children grow up and end up loving life as much as any passionate person would if able to combine the dreams of a fulfilled life with a love that opens up the emotional self to a way to experience the self as a body-mind entity not split by necessities of life.

1.6 Cultural planning strategies to improve the overall performance of a city in all sectors (economics, politics, social, cultural, environmental)


Most crucial is to consider how cultural governance can be realised when designing a cultural planning strategy. As long as culture was the exclusive sphere for the elite, other social and cultural groups were excluded. Equally, the involvement of all institutions in the integration of everyone has to resolve the problem of segregation brought about by income and educational differences related to socialization practices. Persons who have a name by reputation but also family background have a definite advantage. Then the dissemination of culture has to take into consideration different territorial entities. Altogether citizens of the city need to interact before a common decision can be reached about allocation and use of cultural resources.

Cultural planning entails giving a time frame often attained by having a common theme or goal e.g. Olympics, Mediterranean Games. It shows that something is needed which can unify the vision for the future. The political advantage thereof is that it can legitimize a common decision making process and facilitate coordination between different actors and bodies of the city. Altogether cultural planning does entail setting free creative forces at various levels.

Most important is to reach the smaller groups, individuals and lower levels of city governance; in short, a bottom up participation will ensure a broad base of support.

Culture acts as filter for the selection of interventions (see here Volos Report within the CIED project) and thereby makes possible an overall adaptation process of the city to new challenges. This process cannot be described in following variations:


Since cultural accommodation goes on all the time and this most often in a remarkable quiet but sustained way. Children do not have such a filter and neither do those who feel overexposed to all kinds of information and demands without knowing therefore on how to respond. They can be simply overwhelmed, over demanded and over taken by all the challenges of advancing in a knowledgeable, intelligible and anticipatory manner. It goes without saying the integration into an urban environment along with the complexity of institutional set-ups is never easy especially if forms of alienation and various barriers to integration have to be overcome.

Unfortunately selection procedures and methods to file apparently successful projects are evaluated according to managerial capacity and hence financial accountability than what would be an innovative potential while expressing a complexity over and beyond simple organisation principles. That tendency to select a priori only manageable projects to ensure success cuts short both the creative and practical i.e. learning process in how people imagine their future and inputs with regards to what has inspired them when thinking about contributing to a major event.


Annex 1: Thematic domains for EU 7th Framework Programme

Sustainable Cities at the centre of the knowledge-based economy and cohesive European society

Thematic domains for future European Research within the 7th Framework

Programme of the European Community for Research

Executive Summary

Cities are the main drivers of economic growth, in addition to social and cultural diversity, across Europe. Given the problems and potential of the Lisbon Strategy, and other urban policies and strategies of the European Community, a range of research initiatives in the 7th Framework Programme are necessary in order to focus on the nature of the knowledge society and cities.

This policy paper identifies five priority areas in urban research:

1. Function of cities from a user perspective – integrating the emerging spatial, temporal and virtual structures of the knowledge-based society, in the context of complex historically determined urban structures, both physical and social.

2. Learning cities and the social structures necessary to link individuals and social groups to the city, in order to support cohesion.

3. Flexible urban and regional governance, in the context of the new dynamics and dimensions of urban re/development.

4. The role of cities in enabling a creative environment for innovative forms of production and social processes in the networked knowledge-based society.

5. Intercompetitiveness of cities and their role in the global systems (economic, environmental, social and cultural).

In more specific terms, the paper lists a wide range of research actions relating to issues such as:

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