Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Proposed structure for Workshop 2 by Anna Arvanitaki (chairperson)

Status: first draft, 21.2.1994

Dear Colleagues,

As you have seen from the materials sent to you by now, there has been in the Brugge Seminar a workshop on "Economy and Culture".

The workshop was structured around one framework paper and two particular contributions.

There was a division between (the three) speakers and audience and, one can say, that no serious interaction between them took place.

In the Athens Seminar, there are a number of workshops relating to that one on "Economy and Culture" in Brugge, one of them being "Regional / City Planning and Culture".

Let me remind you here that the difference of the Athens Seminar is to bring about concrete proposals (in form of action programmes) to the European Union / Commission, in the area of culture, stemming from the particular disciplinary approaches.

For our workshop in Athens, we have to decide on two matters:

a) Given the size of the workshop (not more than ten people), the fact that most of the invited participants know each other before and come from similar (or compatible) disciplinary backgrounds, I propose that the workshop should be "interactive" (no distinction audience - speaker), structured around short individual contributions by everybody (which should have been sent in advance) and synthesis by the chair person, who will also propose the overlapping areas with other workshops. On the spot the discussion in the workshop should be devoted in finalising our proposals to the Plenum, based upon draft proposals prepared by the chair person.

According to this concept of the workshop, I propose that everybody

  1. responds to the analysis of the main theme of the workshop
  2. prepares a brief outline (say 4 - 5 pp.)

As for the time structure:

The workshop will be held on Saturday, 4th of June 1994, from

14.00 to 16.00 and 16.30 to 18.30

Question is, whether the second half (16.30 - 18.30) should be devoted to interaction with the other related workshops of Section A (Unemployment, Culture and Economies, Transportation etc.)

b) As for the contents, my analysis of the theme "Regional Planning and Culture" runs as follows:

b1) First, we should deal with the notion of r e g i o n itself, because we are in the middle of a multidisciplinary seminar and there are, it seems, a number of confusion's to the outsiders as to the several terms that we use, which are not self-understood. Since "regions" play a mayor role in the articulation of the whole problematic seminar (there is extensive reference to "cultural regions" in the van de Brande Brugge Declaration, Nov. 27, 1993), there should be a clarification on our part.

I feel that Phil Cooke could give a short reference to the notion of region and how it has been used by traditional Geography (the idiosyncrasy of regions etc.) and later by post-war "Regional Science" and the "quantitative Geography" of the 60's. Then, he could give a brief account of the theoretical crisis in Geography at the end of the 70's and the appearance of the methodological trend of "locality studies" and the so called "locality debate" which it provoked.


b2.1 In Brugge, (Workshop 1) the framework paper dealt with current developments in the economy, in pointing out the recent trends in industrial organisation, namely the move from Fordist forms of organisation to more vertically disintegrated production schemes of corporate firms. This is what regional scientists called: the move from the Fordist paradigm to the "flexible specialisation" paradigm, or as Phil Cooke puts it, from Fordism to Toyotism.

The local/global interplay in corporate strategy was extensively mentioned ("think globally, act locally") and the character of modern management analysed (the "international manager").

The conclusions drawn from this analysis were directed towards the managers in the form of recommendations to respect and make use of cultural specifies of the localities/countries where they operate instead of suppressing them. In general, there was a spirit, throughout the seminar, opposing the American inspired "Universalism" of the 60's and 70's and in favour of the local "rootedness" of the economic activities.

b 2.2.) What is going on in Europe

Here, regional inequalities have to be briefly reviewed, especially after the 80's and the recent signs of new polarisation's (between successfully restructured regions and cities and weak or even marginalised regions) need to be commented.

Thus the picture in Europe during the integration process is one of renewed intensified inequalities, of fragmented regional-urban economies, with loss of control by the localities over the location of capital which brings about increased competition between regions and cities for the attraction of this free-moving capital.

- Are regional programmes of the E.U. able to offset this trend?

- The lack of adjustment of these programmes to specific cultural characteristics has been pointed out as one of the reasons of their inefficiency: what indications exist in this request? (case studies)

b.3) If this is so about regional and urban economies, we have then to turn to S P A C E:

Here, the problematic of Prof. Andre Loechx as expressed in the lecture he gave at the Spetsai (Greece) European Workshop in 1992, is very much to the point.

Main arguments in that paper have dealt with the urban-rural dichotomy, that is the former countryside is replaced by a non-urban non-rural realm. This process, as far as the city is concerned, has taken the form of desurbanisation (the European Commission itself has recognised these trends in its Green Paper on the Urban Environment, 1990) to which the answer by recent policies has been the creation of "artificial islands of centrality". Then some arguments as well as examples from Belgium are produced how to respond to these tendencies, including on how to reactivate public realm and re-use obsolete urban quarters, how; ultimately to bring about the restructuring of the "peripheral" areas, which are seen to generate all kinds of social and cultural marginalisation, which in turn contributes to phenomena like violence and xenophobia.

If this is combined with the social climate of fear, of insecurity and marginalisation produced by the material conditions of joblessness, then we have the whole array of conditions which lead to the disruption of social cohesiveness, to the crisis of individual and collective (national or regional etc.) identities and to the retreat to defensive localism.

I think that this kind of theoretical framework having to do with the spatial dimension of planning, should always be kept in mind when we evaluate urban and regional development policies and programmes because, recently, regional and urban planners have been increasingly "economically" oriented. (To some, this seemed to be a progress, since in the past planners have been accused to be "spatially" biased, but I still remember the successful remark of Andre Loeckx made at the Spetsai Workshop, that it was surprising in a seminar dealing with spatial entities like regions and c i t i e s that nobody talked about space itself but about economy).

In this respect, it was interesting to find out in the valuable book by Parkinson and Bianchini (1993) on Urban Regeneration, that cultural policies since the 80's encompassed more and more not only economic development goals but also (among other things) physical planning dimensions since they had to deal with the economic as well as the physical viability of the cities involved.

Here follows a very schematic presentation of the problematic of our Workshop and a tentative localisation of your contributions (either in the form of the short report or as main areas of your contributions / proposals during the workshop), to which I welcome your comments.

Certainly, anything that you consider to be a possible main reference for the theme of the workshop - given its orientation to produce concrete proposals - is also welcome.

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