Urban Artcology; Considering Arts Role in Urban Development in the 21st Century.

“How can we maintain a social balance in our cities and what kind of society will we provide for the next generation?”

-Conny Brännberg
“Culture is not simply a large and important sector of the economy. It’s the «social software» that is badly needed to manage the complexity of contemporary societies and economies in all of its manifold implications.”
-Phil Wood



This project is to create a discourse and dialogue between urban development relationship to the arts and cultural industry. World population in the 21st century migration patterns is venturing into an ever increasing urban environment. Currently 54% of the world’s population is living in cities with an expected rise to 66% by 2050 (Collyor, Online). More than ever cities are becoming conscious to culture and art sectors as a means of community involvement, tourism, and city-branding. There is an increasing demand for collaborative efforts of politicians, designers, developers, and artist in developing cultural attractions in the century of urbanization. This project considers urban design in the contemporary context with the emphasis on cultural development. The discourse is considering the Arts (visual, performance, architecture, etc) and their role in society. Cultural Development is becoming a quickly evolving sub-genre with in Urbanization, so the 21st Century question to urban development is what role to the arts play in society?

The Field Setting

The main locational emphasis is in cities in the globalization context currently experiencing mid – to – accelerating “smart” growth with an emerging, “creative class”. Richard Florida in Cites and the Creative Class, believes, “diversity and creativity are basic drivers of innovation and regional and nation growth. He defines the, “creative class,” through human capital theory (Human Capital, Online) as individuals who seek to, “creative meaningful new forms” (Florida, 1972, p.8). He gives examples of the “super-creatives” within the creative class as those endowed with “creative capital”: scientist and engineers, university professors. poets and novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers and architects, as well as “thought leadership” of modern society: nonfiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts and other opinion makers (Florida, p.8). With the practical definition of those in the “super-creative class”: individuals able to produce entrepreneurial products or designs to be disturbed on a broad sense, or those redefining societal standards with new theories, strategies, or cultural values. These individuals typical possess a high level of skill or academic training and education.

Given the context of the creative class, the target research locations include urban areas that provide the prior definitions. Locations include cities that self-identity as “creative-centers” or cities providing an emphasis of “creative-capital”. An immediate example, Portland, Oregon (USA), where Business Insider claims the location as a creative harbor of venture capital investing, with hosting various multi-national corporations like, Intel, Microsoft, IBM, eBay, and Nike balance with small a smaller scale start-up culture including business such as Puppet Labs, Simple, Janrain, Wildfang, and Cloudability (Buisness Insider, Online). The city also boast of a very act culture and arts sectors, metaphorically emphasized by the city motto, “Keep Portland Weird.” In a 2011 master plan, the city recognizes performance venus and and arts spaces as an integral part of the creative infrastructure. The main areas of creative interest are the downtown Cultural District, Pearl District, and Alberta Street Arts District, all host to a variety of galleries, theaters, historical sites, and arts education centers (Portland Masterplan, 2011, Online). The city also emphasizing its colleges and universities as “attractors for creative people” and to to “serve as the hubs for the arts community (Portland Plan, p. 17)

The current goals of the research plan for the city of Portland, Portland 2035 Masterplan, aims to enhance not only the economical and business sectors but considers their relationship to the arts and culture. This is due to regional competition of the west coast in maintain economic edge while focusing on the “livelihood” of the city, with the outcome of attracting diversity of creatives, innovators, entrepreneurs, developers, and civic engagement (Portland Master Plan, 2016, p. 30).

The current plan is making adjustments to fit the growing population of the city. Portland has seen a population boost from 1990-2010 from 487,849 to 609,456. The city is expect to accommodate for a rising international expat and nonlocal, “transplant” population increase over the following years, currently accounting for 16% of the total population.

Portland’s “liberalizing” and development of its industries and neighborhoods, while maintaining a focus with the arts and culture infrastructure seems to be attracting a high migrating population of “creative”. It is cities like Portland and others which focus on the “creative capital” market which the fieldwork settings should exist. Other comparable cities of interest include Amsterdam, Netherlands; Berlin, Germany; Austin, Texas; Stockholm, Sweden; Cape Town, South Africa; Tokyo, Japan; Melbourne, Australia; London, UK; NYC, NY; and Paris, France.1 The fieldwork setting should consider design techniques, public policy and government initiatives, and grassroots activism from a board globalized perspective with including at least one city from every continent.

Literature Review

“Urbanization” or the notion of migrational and settlement patterns from rural to urban settings can date back to Mesopotamia, and Egyptian societies (Mark, 2014, Online). However it is hard to accurately detect when the term was considered. Science Daily considers the main developmental understanding to data to around the industrial revolution, considered as a main urban settlement turning point. Only within the last 120 years has the term really been emphasized with the supporting terms due to modernization and globalization. Science daily confirms with the lack of historical understand with emphasis the modern day shift toward “urbanization,” with quote “Urbanization is not merely a modern phenomenon, but a rapid and historic transformation of human social roots on a global scale, whereby predominantly rural culture is being rapidly replaced by predominantly urban culture” (Science Daily, Online).

Modernism Urbanization in urban planning which saw innovations such as grid style city design, introduction of public transportation, skyscraper building, and overall fundamental groundwork of city space, prevailed from the industrial revolution to decline in about the 1950s. It was at the point where researchers starting noticing a accelerating trend of settlements from the rural to urban setting

It was around this time mid 1930s-1950s is when some western governments were making huge national instructional investments into city space and the urban atmosphere with such as the, New Deal in the United States; and the New Towns Act of 1946. This came out of a reaction of the failing post industrial revolution city space of outdated sewage intake system, increasing city population density, vast slum style housing and communities, and address the increasing role of the car in

society. Modernist Urbanization later gave way to “New Urbanization;” of the 1960s-1980; which started urban sprawl, emphasized city design to coincide with individual automobile transportation, and saw a new industrial mechanization of city space as a reaction to globalization. It was the critic of New Urbanization of questioning the major concerns of sustainability and environmental impact, which would lead us into 21st century societal development and design. Now with addressing the topics of environmental damage, city sustainability and preservation; and citizen wellness and livelihood, Arts and Cultural developments has gained much attention as a important urban infrastructural demand within 21st century city development. In the American context, the American Planning Association (APA) host research and data to support the prior statement. The APA defines the importance of arts and cultural development as creating a “sense of place” through three major developmental methods:

an articulation of the historic, cultural, economic, and cultural context of the community;
a commitment to the reinforcement and enhancement of the community’s identity; and
the implementation of policies, regulations, and incentives that support and enhance this evolving identity. (APA, Online)

Theoretical Framework

Considering “societal design” as the fusion of urban planning and citizen wellness/livelihood, what is the role of the Arts can play within societal design and addressing our understandings of the cultural shifts within 21st century globalized world?

Through my analysis, I hope to enhance the understanding and define the term “Urban Artcology,” a term I am coining as to address a holistic role of arts in 21st century societal design and development. Arts I am defining as visual, performance, architectural, public, activism, other mixed medias, community, “grass-roots” initiatives, and

2United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision

the engagements with public policy. “Art – Ecology” or “Artcology” is understanding the relationship between these various mediums and how they influence design, development, and public wellbeing. Particular I will be looking at the power and institutional structures which promote and engage with the Arts such as; legislation, galleries, museums, theaters, performance centers, public space, historical and contemporary architecture, arts education centers, various arts communities, and academic institutions. As well, there should be consideration with 21st century gatekeepers within “creative/smart cities,” which as defined above, include “creative capital” producers and “thought leadership” actors.

This analysis is concerned with gathering data for a holistic understanding of why the arts should be considered important as a developmental tool for community involvement and livelihood in the ever increasing urban environment and enhance the postmodern era of city design efforts. My notion of increasing the Arts role for citizen access is to promote the idea of individual and community social development within a population with understanding the mechanism of Arts impact as defined by Joshua Guetzknow (Guetzknow, 2002, p. 3) such as in areas of creativity, diversity, tolerance, self-expression and confidence, entrepreneurship, risk taking, sharing, and community involvement.

Secondly this research is concerned with Arts funding within a post-modern economy, particularly with the evolving global Neoliberalist economy. This is considering the funding from private and public sectors, as well as individual or community donors. The relationship to funding and the arts is considering the increasing privatization of the arts due to governmental cuts and “economizing”. So a question arises on whose role should be providing to the arts after governmental cuts are made? Furthermore, after conservative cuts are made, can developing nations mainly outside a western context provide a better example in societal deign with the promotion, education, and funding of the Arts?



(Collyer, Online) Collyer, Michael. The World’s Urban Population is Growing. The Conversation Magazine. November 2, 2015. Online. URL: http://theconversation.com/the-worlds-urban-population-is-growing-so-how- can-cities-plan-for-migrants-49931
(Circo Strada, Online) Circo Strada. The Role of the Arts and Culture in Urban Processes. Circostrada Networ. 2002. Online Access, URL:http://www.circostrada.org/sites/default/files/ressources/files/final_2016_en_5.pdf
(James, 1981) James Shanahan. The Arts and Urban Development. Eristics Vol. 48, No. 288, THE ARTS AND HUMAN SETTLEMENTS (May/June 1981), pp. 234-238Appendices
(Florida, Online) Florida, Richard. Cities and the Creative Class. Carnegie Mellon University. and http:// creativeclass.com/rfcgdb/articles/4%20Cities%20and%20the%20Creative%20Class.pdf
(Human Capital, Online) The Basic Theory of Human Capital. Lectures in Labor Economics. Online Access, URL: http://econ.lse.ac.uk/staff/spischke/ec533/Acemoglu%20Autor%20chapter%201.pdf
(Bussiness Insider) (Portland) 13 Hot Portland Startups That You Need to Watch. Business Insider. Online Access, URL: http://www.businessinsider.com/portland-hottest-startups-2013-12?international=true&r=US&IR=T
(Portalnd Plan) Portland Plan. Portland Plan Background Report. 2011. Online Access, URL: http:// http://www.portlandonline.com/portlandplan/index.cfm?a=373231
(Portalnd 2035 Plan) Portland Central Plan 2035. CentralCITY 2035: Goals and Policies. Online Access, URL: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/581227
(Wonderlust, Online) Wanderlust Blog. 10 Cities for Creative People. Online Access. URL: http:// http://www.worldofwanderlust.com/12-cities-for-creative-people/
(APA, Online) American Planing Association. How Arts and Cultural Strategies Create, Reinforce, and Enhance Sense of Place. Online Access. URL: https://www.planning.org/research/arts/briefingpapers/character.htm
“United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision
(Mark, 2014, Online) Mark, Joshua J. Urbanization. Ancient History Encyclopedia. April 7, 2014. Online Access. URL: http://www.ancient.eu/urbanization/
(Science Daily, Online) Science Daily Research Publisher. Urbanization. Online Access. URL:https:// http://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/urbanization.htm
(Guetzkow, 2002) Guetzkow, Joshua. How the Arts Impact Communities: An Introduction to the Literature on Arts Impact Studies. Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. 2002. Online Access, URL:https:// http://www.princeton.edu/culturalpolicy/workpap/WP20%20-%20Guetzkow.pdf

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