Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Final report of Workshop 2: "Regional / Urban Planning and Culture" by Anna Arvanitaki

1. Theme and Objectives of the workshop

The objectives of Workshop "2" according to the general guidelines developed for the Fifth Seminar of Athens were:

It has to be remembered here, that the theme of this workshop was dealt with at an elementary form at the Brugge Seminar (Nov. 1993), and more particularly in the context of the first workshop of the latter, namely the one dealing with "Culture and Economy". There were two others, one having to do with "institutions and culture" and the other with "culture and identity". Together they constitute the three pillars of the Flemish initiative, in order to link 'culture' and 'region' as building stones for Europe.

Given this fact, in other words given the novelty of the topic, combined with its complexity, one should recognise the need for establishing a process by which a new broad conceptual framework - connecting concepts familiar to urban and regional planners with those related to culture - can be developed from which policy guidelines can be formulated and, ultimately, action programmes can be proposed.

2. Participants and contributions

The group of participants of this workshop was, relative to other workshops, quite homogeneous, as can be seen from the list of participants. Their basic educational background is either from architecture or economics (nearly equally divided), the meeting ground being the field of urban/regional planning and/or local development. Most come from the academic world, while the "third" sector was also represented (by Th. Zacharopoulos).

During the first part of the meeting, the participants presented the main points of their papers, which, for the most part, were sent in advance. More specifically short presentations were made by:

  1. A. Arvantaki
  2. Ph. Cooke
  3. M. Parkinson
  4. P. Delladetsima
  5. Fr. Moulaert
  6. Th. Zacharopoulos
  7. A. Rodriquez
  8. V. Gavrielatos
  9. St. Nieuwinkel

The workshop was joined later by Andre Loeckx who had been one of the main speakers and who made a critical intervention, points of which are mentioned below.

The meeting attended also without presenting a paper Voula Bonizeki who was initially planned to attend the study group of Tourism, P. Skayannis from the University of Thessaly and Pavlos from DIALOGOS.

The main points of each presentation are mentioned below:

Phil Cooke in his paper had referred to the phenomenon of industrial districts in the past and in the present. He made a comparison of the main elements underlying the industrial districts of the 18th-19th century in Britain (as described by Alfred Marshall) and the newly developed in Central/Northern Italy and elsewhere pointing out that, in both cases, non material or else social and cultural factors play a crucial role in creating the "extra booster - ingredient", in other words, the "atmosphere" which makes this phenomena possible.

These non-material factors are even more important today, since natural resources have ceased being the basic determinant for development: "the key resource for future success will be the education and skills of the work force".

At the meeting, Phil advanced his arguments further emphasising following points:

Michael Parkinson spoke about

  1. Cultural policy and urban regeneration
  2. Cultural and urban policy in the EU

The main points of his presentation were:



At the European level, the dilemmas are similar. But because social exclusion in European cities can threaten the "European project" as a whole (but it has also been largely produced by the EU' s labour mobility policy of the past decade), it constitutes the main reason which legitimises a response by the European Union.

For this purpose, necessary steps are:

Pavlos Delladetsima

The context of his intervention was similar to that of M. Parkinson. He stressed the following:

  1. Cities are back on the agenda due to the fact that they are the locus of the post-fordist social problems, but also due to their potential to attract investments.... Indeed, current urban policies are geared to boosting cities' competitiveness, by exploiting all the recent non-cost location factors for investment like environment, historical setting, cultural opportunities.
  2. But he stressed that for the most part, such urban projects (with examples from Lille – Roubaix - Turcoing - Birmingham etc.) tend to disregard their social and cultural impact on local communities.
  3. He, then, referred to the case of Athens where such development policies remain at the level of simple "rhetorics", while in reality, there prevails a "non-planning situation" due to the traditional model based on small scale, real estate speculative development.
  4. The EU urban policy is not yet coherent but has proved very important (creation of networks etc.), and also, in many cases, more sensible than national policies due to the inclusion of social cohesion objectives.

Frank Moulaert

He referred to the "socio-economically disintegrated areas" and their features.

He stressed that policy recipes which are based upon the experiences of relatively successful areas do not work for disintegrated areas. For the latter, a redevelopment strategy should be formulated in more appropriate terms:

Cases of projects which includes such a notion of social innovation are:

Arantza Rodriguez

She spoke about recent local economic development strategies of the "bottom-up" model which became a common trend through the 80's.

She stressed the fact that, in many cases, local and regional authorities, implementing the above concepts of local development, have used s i m i l a r measures to bring about this development, namely: waterfront redevelopments, cultural centres and the like which "tend to subsume their differences under a homogeneous ready-made image of places".

This lack of attention to local specificities on which to base development makes the gains of the respective projects "ephemeral as imitators quickly follow up".

Thus, for an effective local development strategy:

Stefan Nieuwinckel

He described the strategy of B.O.M. which is the Association for the Development of the District of North-East-Antwerp. B.O.M. is currently involved in projects to revitalise the local economy and to integrate the least privileged groups.

He stressed that in local development (in the form of anti-poverty programs or district development policies) many organisations have to be brought together ("no organisation can cover everything"), which then have to be c o-o r d i n a t e d, close to the level of implementation (not from above). This is exactly how B.O.M. operates at the local level. (1)

V. Gavrielatos

He analysed the cultural policy of the Municipality of Athens. He stressed, that the municipal authority lacks the institutional responsibilities and the finances for a full-fledged cultural policy. The latter is mainly determined by the Ministry of Culture.

Given these limitations, the Municipality is currently implementing:

1. The report was written before the second paper of Stefan Nieuwinkel was received.

Th. Zacharopoulos

He made a synoptic presentation of the development programmes in which the Local Development Agency in Karditsa (ANKA) has been engaged the last five years, with particular reference to the programs in which the cultural dimension was more pronounced. He combined the presentation with projection of slides and a video.

He then refered to what considered to be important elements according to the five year experience of ANKA, namely:

Such types of interventions which "contain" this (cultural) dimension he considers to be:

Andre Loeckx

He joined the workshop later. Gave some points of criticism about the notion of culture. He also refered to certain arguments about the city (ambivalence, urban ecology) which appear in his paper at the plenary session. Discussing possible action programs, he argued for "experimental projects at the urban level with interdisciplinary teams which should work in contact with the people". He emphasised that this level - close to the people - is the only one where compromises between economic and non-economic criteria can take place.

As to his object of concern, including city's enterprises and society, it has always to do with a) modernisation as a social process / development of society; b) the impact of modernity upon social behaviour, individual attitudes, etc.; and c) modernism in the sense of artistic reflection. Culture has to do with change, how life goes on. While seeking an identity which is homogeneous, stable, in relation with a common "we", the formation of identity takes place in a built environment which is full of ambivalence.

He also maintained that the networking within the European Union is still an unfinished project.

It is time for projects of an experimental nature which will link different thoughts.

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