Maria Francesca De Tullio – Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities

Cultural and Creative Spaces and Cities is a project funded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union. University of Antwerp (through the CCQO) is participating together with Trans Europe Halles, Peer-to-Peer Foundation, European Cultural Foundation and seven urban labs: City of Lund, Sweden; Northern Tzoumerka, Greece; Region of Skåne, Sweden; Ambasada, Timisoara, Romania; CIKE, Kosice, Slowakia; Kaapeli, Helsinki, Finland; Hablarenarte, Madrid, Spain.

In this call, the European Commission has acknowledged the importance and potential of cultural and creative spaces for the creative and collaborative economy, job creation, social inclusion and urban development. Yet, the potential of many of these cultural spaces is still unleashed because a systemic approach to the interrelationship between economy, social inclusion, urban planning, innovation and Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) is not encouraged under this system due to lingering new public management structures that tend to see everyone operating within their own compartments.

Though, the protection of art, culture and heritage is inseparable from the elaboration of more inclusive models of management and governance. In other words, the challenge is to let the artistic expression exist as a heterogeneous and humanly sustainable civic and cultural reality, which is intrinsically allergic to rigid rules and, at the same time, is constantly under threat because of the competitive and homogenizing logics of the market. Hence, for the CCQO, the aim of the research is to understand what is needed from the local authorities to be able to support or facilitate bottom-up initiatives, in particular availing itself of the theory and praxis of commons, which have proved to be able to create innovative models for social inclusion that will have an impact on local communities and their day-to-day city lives for generations to come. Sometimes, as in the case of L’Asilo in Naples, they have been able to even make a ‘creative use of law’, i.e. elaborating new rules – successively recognized and supported by the institution – with the aim of ‘hacking’ legality and bringing new participatory institutions in it.

In particular, the issue will be analysed from an interdisciplinary standpoint: a sociological one, with Pascal Gielen, a cultural policy one, with Hanka Otte, and a juridical one, with Maria Francesca De Tullio. Moreover, the research will be enriched by the interaction with P2P Foundation, especially concerning economic sustainability, and with European Cultural Foundation, with particular regard to the policy issues.

The objects, and, at the same time, the beneficiaries, of such research will be seven Urban Labs: urban processes of reciprocal approach between civil society and institutions. This means that the methodology will be a ‘convoking’ one: the researchers will be observing and, at the same time, facilitating the processes, contributing (and testing) their expertise in participatory procedures, though not being themselves activists within them, as in co-research approaches. So, the challenge for the research is to use theory as a means to be ‘creative’ about rules and policies, by still maintaining a pragmatic contact with flesh and blood participatory experiences.