Making Cultural Infrastructure

If stagecraft can be a lens through which to see how public life plays out in cities, how does the design of the stage itself shape the crafts that inhabit it? If cultural display is what happens onstage, what is the urban equivalent of the backstage, where production, experimentation, and rehearsal take place?

In London and elsewhere, the term “cultural infrastructure” is becoming prevalent in discourses around creativity in cities. However, there has been almost no critical analysis of what an infrastructural approach to planning for culture means, what strategies for city-making it implies, and its implications for the role artistic labour plays in cities.

This project investigates what conditions of urbanity constitute the infrastructures for cultural production – the backstage of public cultural life. How do different configurations of this infrastructure shape the cultures of cities, and can they be consciously designed and planned?

Building on an interest in the design of cultural spaces since the initiation of Theatrum Mundi, Making Cultural Infrastructure became a primary research project in 2016, with a series of focus groups with artists working in performance, making, and virtual forms of culture, leading to a major report. From September 2018, we launched a multi-year design and analysis project looking at planning for artisanship in the city, in partnership with the Ax:son Johnson Foundation. We also co-led a studio on the CSM MArch Architecture programme with Jayden Ali.

FUNDING & PARTNERS: This project is funded and supported by the Ax:son Johnson Foundation. Events have been hosted by Siobhan Davies Dance, SPACE Studios, The Trampery, RCA, Tate Modern, and Museum of London. Research trips and presentations have been supported by the Edinburgh International Culture Summit and el Gobierno de la Ciudad Autonóma de Buenos Aires

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