Of cultural identity and urban development

Of cultural identity and urban development

Open consultation

Curious: A section of the audience.

The event included a series of panels comprising eminent speakers such as Jagan Shah, the director of the Sushant School of Art and Architecure; Prakash Belawadi, the writer and director of ‘Cultural Identifiers: The Language of the City’; and N Pushpamala, the artist.

The aim behind the open consultation was to initiate a series of discussions regarding the importance of art and culture in terms of urban development, and the various ways in which it could facilitate the latter.

The topic was introduced by P Radhika, from the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, who based her speech on the premise that culture gave any city a sense of identity and image, and wasn’t an add-on to development but was integral to it.

She also stated the objective of the consultation as working towards a set of policy recommendations involving art and cultural spaces in the City.

The first panel of the day was titled ‘Creative City: Creative Economy and Beyond’, and comprised Jagan Shah, Naresh Narasimhan, an architect associated with the NGMA, and Sunitha Kumar Emmart, the director of Gallery SKE.

It explored the potential methods in which culture could actually aid economic development. Jagan Shah spoke about the various ways in which culture had cropped up as an integral topic in a lot of work he had been involved in lately, and also went into some research titled ‘The Geography of Buzz’, which mapped out the concentration of fashion, film and theatre events in Manhattan.

He compared this with the situation in Bangalore, stressing on the need to encourage a dispersal of the cultural arena.

The second panel called ‘Public Spaces, Public Cultures and Diversity’, addressed the issue of cultural hubs in each City, how they contribute to diversity in a city, and what examples there were of these in Bangalore. Addressed by Deepak Srinivasan, a theatre practitioner; Prakash Belawadi, a writer and director; Sumitra Ghosh, an architect and N Pushpamala, it had a deep impact on the audience.

The consultation also included two more panels: ‘Cultural Policy: New Players and Discussions’, which addressed the different interventions and players dedicated to encouraging culture in cities, and ‘Cultural Policy: Government, Private and Corporate’, which focussed on the different policy measures that should be applied to the development of culture in any city.

Hanisha Tharth, an intern at an architecture firm, said that the talks had been extremely interesting. Referring to Jagan Shah’s discussion, she said, “I agree that architects and planners have to become facilitators for culture in that sense. I also like the point about public spaces – they should become spaces where people can interact with each other.”

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