What can culture and the arts do for a place? 

by Gareth Roberts

As our members will know, at IPM we spend much of our time conducting research into how we can make better places. Much of this work focuses on the high street, and whilst our towns and cities are clearly operating in a challenging environment, we are always keen to point out that this challenge does not signal their demise. Rather, it is reflective of a shift in how we use them, with retail no longer the critical fulcrum it once was, and it is down to place managers to develop the means of capitalising on this change in demand.

As this realisation sets in, towns and cities are increasingly looking for ways to complement their retail offer, encouraging visitors through other means. One way this is being done is through the development of a cultural offering. This is nothing new – planners and policy makers began to espouse the development of cultural activity in the early 1990s as a means of revitalising cities in the process of de-industrialisation[i], encouraging the rise of the ‘experience economy’[ii]. As a result, culture has, over time, become an increasingly common means of consuming a city[iii]. Continue reading “What can culture and the arts do for a place? “

Gentrification, autonomy, and the cultural space: 23 years of Metelkova Mesto

The institutional part of Metelkova – as seen from the rooftop of the +MSUM. Photo: Nikos Ntounis
The institutional part of Metelkova – as seen from the rooftop of the +MSUM. Photo: Nikos Ntounis

by Jenny Kanellopoulou and Nikos Ntounis

Following up from our first blog entry on the normalisation of autonomous areas within urban centres, we embarked on a two week research trip in Slovenia and Denmark visiting the places in question, appreciating the communities that live and work in them, and engaging in fruitful discussions with them, as well as with the areas’ other stakeholders such as city representatives.

This blog entry is dedicated to the area of Metelkova Mesto, the semi-squatted cultural neighbourhood of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the attempts of the municipality, as well as the state of Slovenia to “broaden” the cultural zone surrounding the urban squat and create a cultural space where all stakeholders can meet and contribute to the place’s brand: apart from the autonomous squatted buildings, the city of Ljubljana operates the Museum of Contemporary Art, whereas the state of Slovenia has also founded the Ethnographic museum in the same quarter. From state, to municipal, to autonomous level, the broader cultural zone of Metelkova Mesto creates the impression of a place dedicated to the promotion of arts and culture, a valuable asset to the city and to the country itself. [1]

Continue reading “Gentrification, autonomy, and the cultural space: 23 years of Metelkova Mesto”