Cultural Quarters.  Arts by postcode?  Are they a good thing?

Convener(s):  Claire

Participants:   Sally, Paul and Zoe

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

This discussion raised a number of questions rather than answers. 

In summary it was felt that investment in a cultural quarter was better than nothing, however the discussion asked questions around the reasoning behind their creation, their relevance to the community and who they are actually for.

Recognition was given to the economic advantages which come from the regeneration of sites and the trickle down effects this can bring to the location.  They demonstrate to funding bodies the financial impact the arts can bring in addition to its cultural benefits.  

But is it OK to all about money? 

Concern was raised around the decisions regarding the location and strategy for these developments and how they realistically link with the local community?  Potential impact of moving the performing arts space from Salford University to the new ‘media city’ raised.

Can the development of a cultural quarter actually create a division between the local community which wasn’t there before – pricing people out of a region and creating a ‘privileged ghetto’ which isn’t visited by the people who are live there?

Centrally placed quarters where felt to be at encouraging access and opportunities for wider audiences to encounter the arts through public art, free cultural events – eg Birmingham -  and the positive impacts this can have on quality of life within those cities.

Negatives to this is that this focus and investment on a specific area can potentially take money away from good initiatives which do not match the geographical fit.  Initiatives are supported due to their economic value over their artistic vision.?

What is the role of artists working in these quarters?  Who are they?  Is it  OK for artists to come in from ‘outside’.  Are artists working within these quarters informed or connecting which this region?  Should this be part of the role of artists working in these sites?  Or is this part of the overall ‘shopping experience’

Do cultural quarters truly support / value the arts or is it just a way to get the money to develop a flash new development with lots of opportunities to sell stuff.

Do they work?  Are they sustainable?  Who are how are we measuring their success? 

We will have to wait and see!