Art, Cultural Democracy and the City

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Image: Guy’s Map of Cork 1893

Learning Lab: Counterpoints Arts and CREATE in association with partners Crawford Gallery Cork and Cork City Council Arts Office

Location: St Peters Cork, North Main Street, Centre Cork

Date: 27 September 2019

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.  

                    Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

A well-crafted city can be repaired, and a poorly crafted city can’t be…. I’m interested in this question of how can we build something that’s open  enough that it’s adaptive or resilient, rather than something that completely serves a specified purpose? That’s my idea of the open city.

                     Richard Sennett, Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City


Join us for a conversation focusing on who and what makes a city?

Cork city is facing a range of exciting, overlapping developments with nonetheless physical and infrastructural possibilities and pressures.

Whose interests and passions actually fuel and shape the current vision for the city? And how might we imagine – from the perspective of 2019 – Cork city in 2050?

This Learning Lab will take the form of a ‘think and do’ session bringing civic actors, artists, residents, planners, small business people, activists and researchers to think and work together.

Our aim is to collectively draft a creative ‘blueprint’ for the city, to be adapted and used as a stepping off point for further conversations.

Questions guiding and framing this conversation include (among others):

  • What are the current challenges facing the city and how might socially engaged art and culture be the catalyst for both immediate and slow change?
  • How is Cork becoming a welcoming city responding to a growing, diverse demographic?
  • How might we work together around a common purpose and vision for the city, even if personal and organizational needs appear to be differently aligned?
  • What central role might young actors and new citizens play in the imagining and shaping of the city?
  • What can we learn from self-organising and cooperative methods – through which citizens actively choose to navigate power differently? Who is already doing what and where in the city?
  • How do we create cross-sector coalitions and ways of working – forging pragmatic and creative alliances between small businesses and cultural and civic actors – where decision-making stems from the realities and experiences of diverse neighbourhoods and communities?
  • How do we avoid a growing disconnect and lack of trust between citizens’ vision on the ground and official policy and how might city planners and elected representatives liaise and learn from grass-roots projects?
  • How might cross-sector learning result in more powerful communication, conversation and collaboration between city residents, planners, cultural and civic actors and activists and businesses?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities on the horizon for Cork post-Brexit?
  • What comparative learning can we gain from collaborative initiatives in other port cities?
  • Is it possible to identify a shared city narrative that citizens and dwellers can, in turn, make their own?

The Learning Lab on Art, Cultural Democracy and the City forms part of a two-day event with Create and partners Crawford Art Gallery (Cork), Counterpoints Arts (London), Cork City Arts Office and Heart of Glass (St Helens) in the context Create’s 2019 Networking Day for Collaborative Arts.