Can culture change the cities?

Ragnar Siil

Can culture change the cities? I think it is a wrong question. I think the question should be: Is there anything else but culture that can change the cities? And I do not think that there is something else then culture. I think the culture is the only thing that can change the cities.

But not maybe because of the obvious reasons. It is not only this cultural transformative powers and then culture people taking over everything and culture filling the old factories and hubs and creative centers. I mean that has all happened but it is limited. It is more about here. I think it is about mentality. I think the culture is the only thing that can change the way people understand the living environment, the quality of life, what they value in where they live, in where they work, in how they move, how we set and organize our lifes.

I already talked about the communities. How for example the cultural capital year in Estonia changed the local communities. This is so much more important than 100 events that took place. Events come and go. I mean culturally they were important. They were great source of joy and entertainment and inspiration. But they come and go.

But the change of culture the crossover from culture, the effect and the role of culture to empowering society and empowering people to take responsibility of their own surrounding I think that is more important. And even if the regeneration leads to something else that cultural districts which is absolutely natural and normal.

Then still the role of culture of changing the way the expectations of people. So basically what I am saying is that if there is a good mixture of the input from designers and artists and musicians and creative people and writers and the people understand and value quality of life, the quality of buildings, the role of architecture, the urban planning, the regeneration possibilities. Then what happens as a result is people are demanding more. They want more. They want better. They want to be taken more seriously. And I think the cities and the politicians have it more difficult to run over the opinions of people. So it is also a kind of an instrument for democracy. So it is empowering people, democratization of your surroundings. And culture is only present everywhere.

So I think the culture has absolutely the way to change the cities but not only the cities. It has fantastic opportunity to change the healthcare, the ageing. We have the challenges compared to ecological problems we have. The challenges we face healthcare, aging societies, the social innovations more in general, design, etc. So living conditions, the way that the traffic is organized. So I think the culture has a big role in finding the solutions for these challenges.

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