New Cultural Infrastructure: can we design the conditions for culture?

The current Mayor of London, in his manifesto, committed to developing a Cultural Infrastructure strategy “to identify what we need in order to sustain London’s future as a cultural capital”, including the introduction of designated Creative Enterprise Zones and the use of planning law to protect and promote the development of cultural space.

In the autumn of 2016, Theatrum Mundi (TM) convened three roundtables to debate issues raised by the prospect of a Cultural Infrastructure Plan by asking artists, architects, writers, scholars, publishers, and institutional leaders: can we design the conditions for culture? In doing so, the aim was to contribute to an enrichment of the definition of infrastructure in relation to culture. These three roundtables raised new questions around the effects of cultural infrastructure on artists and the condition of their work, through collaborative thinking with makers of culture.

This working paper represents the first stage of analysis of these workshops, giving a critical account of the discussions that took place. A full report, including an executive summary and design proposals developed in a charrette in response to the working paper, will be launched in October 2017.