Highlighting identities and creativity by cultural planning
The importance of a vital culture is frequently discussed in relation to the development of dynamic places and regions. Richard Florida (2002), for instance, maintains that the link between culture, creativity and growth are central to places. The development potential in regional economy is considered to be the cultural capital of the creative class.
Increasingly, the physical environment in community planning and architecture is interwoven with cultural expression and a higher degree of aesthetics to attract future inhabitants and to keep people from leaving the place, on the one hand, and to increase the number of visitors and investors with a view to create economic growth, on the other. Place developers, in other words, are at work to create effective markers and stories as well as an attractive environment.
This type of strategic planning can be criticised from several perspectives. Strategy is a balancing act between preserving and cultivating the history of a place, its specific features and identity-that is, place culture-and to “sell” the place to visitors, in-migrants and companies. Moreover, Florida’s notion of development rests implicitly on the assumption that the people expected are those with cultural or economic capital. This means that there are including and excluding aspects in the argument that need to be considered.
The described view on development and planning of places has led to an increased interest in alternative planning methods. Especially one case in the city of Karlstad, Sweden, is analysed. The project is inspired by a cultural planning method. Cultural planning involves taking the cultural perspective into account in community planning. The method is primarily a grass-root model based on the local community, its values and resources. By means of active cultural planning at the residential/district area level, the Karlstad project aims to develop forms and methods for implementing artistic designs and cultural activities to produce attractive neighbourhoods and enhance the quality of life for the residents. An expectation is an increased social sustainable development. The City of Karlstad also wants to raise its attraction level and ensure a positive development for future residents by testing cultural planning and the related community art methods. The present paper is based on an on-going evaluation and research of the Karlstad project.
Key words: Cultural planning, place development, culture, identity, creativity.