Culture means business

David Barrie David Barrie & Associates 07 October 2010

In a previous era, ‘culture’ in economic development often meant this…

In the words of art critic Hal Foster:

“To make a big splash in the global pond of spectacle culture today, you have to have a big rock to drop.”

And development was something like this…

But now there’s something else that we want…

…as well as answers to some eternal questions:

In urban development and the creative sector in the U.K., ‘Big Society’ is the new black. What is it?

What does Big Society mean for creativity and culture in urban renewal?

And where’s the evidence that the Big Society version of ‘culture’ is worth promoting?

Three random examples….

1: On a city-scale: High Line Park, New York

• Cost of implementation to date $43m (£27m) • 25,000+ visitors/day • At least 12 development projects have started adjacent to the track • Whitney Museum of Art (Downtown branch) • $15 (£9) High Line Picnic Baskets

2: Town-scale: The Castleford Project, West Yorkshire

Rheta Davison Secretary, Custyke Community Group

• • • • • • • • initial working capital: £70k (CABE) and £100k (Channel 4) 11 capital public realm improvement projects (9 completed) parallel events programme: social, economic and cultural activity (£30k) stakeholder partnership (1), community partnership (1), funding partnership (1), new community groups (3), existing community groups (6) Project start (2003): first completion (2005): last project (2008) total expenditure £9m (Capital), £2m (in kind est.) in five years credited as critical to leveraging £270m in plans for additional public and private expenditure in town Second phase of some projects now under way/complete

3: Neighbourhood scale: The People’s Supermarket, London

key start-up costs
• • • • Rental guarantee Refurbishment of premises Staffing (General Manager) Donated/reclaimed fixtures, fittings & equipment - 35% of total cost • Pro-bono professional services - 25%

‘Hybrid-funded’ social enterprise
• • • • • Local Government - 11% Charity - 6% Philanthropy - 79% Membership revenue (Yr 1) - 2% Other - 2%

business partners
• • • • • • • • • London Borough of Camden Development Trusts Association Esmee Fairbairn Foundation Channel 4 Television/Wall to Wall Social Enterprise London Camden Volunteer Centre The Plunkett Foundation Transition Bloomsbury Several local residents’ associations

performance to date (100 days):
• attracted over 280 members • saved members £17,000 on their shopping bills • serving over 3000 customers/week • estimated break-even point, end November 2010 • turnover projected to top £1.3 million by end of Yr1 • employed 20 previously-unemployed people

what tips to take away from these initiatives?

Each accumulate knowledge, experience, beliefs and values and cultivate a different and new way of life… i.e. they’re cultural

…but to be practical…

think big, act small

involve, don’t “engage” people

network networks of people

create ‘hubs’ of activity, not ‘things’

use money as venture capital

develop social solidarity

create opportunities for people to be who they want to be

be entrepreneurial

David Barrie
David Barrie & Associates project design & delivery - creative/economic planning public involvement - social ventures Blog: Mail:

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