In the current global crisis scenario the cultural sector is facing a series of important challenges from the points of view of aesthetics, management and economy. From 2008 the world’s post-industrialized countries have witnessed to a global increase in political instability, inequalities and unemployment. This process has generated protests all over the world while giving birth also to unexpected models of cultural experimentation (Tims and Wright 2013). Such experiences are globally interconnected, but also anchored in the exigencies of localities. Representing bottom-up forms of political participation and cultural activism, they have been embraced by policy makers and public institutions becoming global development tools.
Participation, crowd-culture, creative commons, have become key terms of the vocabulary of policy makers in the European (and global) debate. Cities are becoming the primary incubator of the cultural and political innovations that shape our planet. They seem today to ‘hark back to the cities-states of the Italian Renaissance’ (Landry 2006) and are strategic sites for understanding some of the major new trends for reconfiguring the social and artistic order.
According to this scenario, the PhD project intends to observe the tension between the top-down policies and the bottom-up movements in the city-context, in Antwerp, Berlin, London and Naples. Thanks to the exploration of case studies in the four cities, this field of enquiry will be observed from the perspective of the performing arts sector and especially from the lens of the cultural organizations. They represent the access to the artistic creation, to the cultural strategies, to the cities’ cultural policy and the arena in which the tension between top-down strategies and bottom-up forms of activism meet and, sometimes, merge.
Using the instruments of the empirical research, the PhD intends to be developed through an interdisciplinary approach (Mulcahy 2006) informed by notions of cultural and social complexity (Gielen 2010, Klaic 2012, Bianchini 1993), and capable of offering in-depth, contextualized and critical explorations with the aim to gain insights about commons and sustainable cities.
Prof. Dr. Pascal Gielen
University of Antwerp, Faculty of Arts
Prof. Dr. Annick Schramme
University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics