In major cities around the world, live performance, studio and creative production spaces are rapidly vanishing from urban cores as property values rise. London, UK, for example, lost 35% of its urban music venues over an 8 year period starting in 2007. While few studies exist elsewhere, the trend seems in line with the experience of many other cities. Fittingly, this past year the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF) declared urban affordability as the central threat to the long-term viability of cultural sectors worldwide.
As a response, Artscape’s Creative Placemaking Lab is partnering with the WCCF to develop a ‘guidebook’ that will enable 40 member cities from around the globe to create and preserve important urban spaces for arts and culture. The guidebook, which will be debuted at the WCCF Summit in San Francisco this November, is a user-friendly tool that empowers municipal directors of culture with a catalogue of financial, policy and space development innovations they can use to remake their cities into fertile ground for thriving cultural sectors.
The innovations showcased in the guidebook will be collected from Artscape’s best practices, as well as those of pioneering cities and cultural institutions around the world, reflecting decades of trial and error. They include actionable approaches cities can adopt, such as mandating community benefit as a component of intensification (“community benefits agreements”), specialized zoning, lending and capital guarantees to non-profits developing cultural spaces, and many others.
If successful, the toolkit will be used both as a turnaround plan for cities focused on at-risk cultural spaces and as a proactive framework for embedding arts and culture into municipal development plans. It is our belief that visions for the future of city life cannot be complete without spaces, resources and mindshare for the role of art and culture in defining the urban experience. Our hope is that this guidebook helps pave the road to getting there.