Thursday, September 10, 2009
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In an attempt to develop local economies, many cities have focused on building and branding urban cultural life. These plans have led some cities to expand or create cultural agencies and programs that serve the nonprofit and for-profit infrastructure as well as the creative work force.
However, according to Cultural Development and City Neighborhoods, written by Carole Rosenstein and published by the Urban Institute, problems arise when cities do less to recognize and promote the cultural lives of urban neighborhoods and their residents. In fact, when cultural agencies do not prioritize incorporating communities and their needs into cultural development, the policies and programs conflict with and threaten the cultural health of urban neighborhoods. Policy agendas and infrastructures developed to build creative economies can actually undermine the diversity of urban populations by driving gentrification and privileged real estate development over other kinds of economic and community development.
Drawing on the proceedings of three dialogues conducted by The Living Cultures Project, Rosenstein describes four ways in which city cultural policy can adversely affect cultural development. The cultural life of neighborhoods can be undermined if:
Some suggestions for overcoming these effects include:
For additional information on cultural development, see the Urban Institute's Cultural Vitality Indicators.
If you would like to talk to a NASAA staff person about the information in this article, contact Shannah Sphar.