This report, commissioned by the Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN) and written by Professor Geoffrey Crossick analyses the different ways social impact is defined; draws out current good practice, highlighting gaps and challenges; and suggests a framework and principles for future action. We hope it will galvanize districts to reflect further on current approaches and join up where appropriate to share knowledge and practice. This is intended to be the first part of a deeper GCDN enquiry into districts and impact which requires better indicators, pooled resources and a wider set of partners and collaborators. We know there is much to learn from existing initiatives, from the cultural sector and beyond, and look forward to working together on this and contributing to a better body of policy and practice for more successful communities and cities.
The Cultural Infrastructure Index, undertaken for the Global Cultural Districts Network by AEA Consulting, seeks to measure investment in capital projects in the cultural sector, identifying projects with a budget of US$10 million or more.
This year’s findings reveal an increase in both the number and value of completed projects over 2017, with a significant bump in the Middle East, reflecting the completion of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. North America continues to lead in the number of projects, followed by Europe and Asia.
While many believe the era of the “starchitect” may be ending, cultural infrastructure strategies are now firmly part of the public policy discourse in many countries. The private sector now appears to be driving a further wave of investment, expanding the definition of “culture” further into entertainment and experience.
Cities have become the focal point for creation, innovation and exchange. In the new urban age, where all cities compete against each other to attract and retain residents, visitors, investment, talent, events, creative people, organizations, etc., culture, creativity and the arts are increasingly a central point of differentiation and attraction. They help to transform and to shape people’s own identities, both for residents and visitors.
Safety is a fundamental, if often unspoken, premise of successful placemaking, informing both the design and programming of public spaces. More and more placemaking efforts are focused on the creation or revitalization of public spaces, often in downtown areas involving heavy foot and vehicle traffic. For these projects to be successful, it is critical that the design, technology and security oversight be effective but also recessive, requiring imagination and intelligence to be applied to the design process from the start. Managers of cultural districts, Business Improvement Districts, and other public spaces are seeking innovative solutions for securing their public spaces in ways that retain the beauty and attraction of these areas.
This report, commissioned by the Global Cultural Districts Network (GCDN), draws on primary research and a literature review to capture good practices, and identifies which stakeholders should be “at the table” for informed and effective decision making and oversight. The research has also revealed the range of business models that underpin these governing entities, reviewing how cultural districts are generating revenue and expending it. The research is intended to be fully international in scope, with useful lessons for GCDN
members and other practitioners around the world.