Σάββατο 5 Απριλίου 2014

Investing in art and cultural tourism for sustainable development of the european cities and regions: a response to the crisis and social cohesion?


To πρώτο άρθρο της καθηγήτριας μας στο ΕΑΠ κυρίας Ευγενίας Μπιτσάνη  (από μία σειρά άρθρων που θα αναδημοσιευσουμε)  από την ιταλική ιστοσελίδα www.nelfuturo.com.

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In the area of contemporary economic crisis de of the society of information, of globalization of the economy and intense competition, depreciation and questioning of traditional structures of social organization the local societies are developing and becoming important economic entities, places which are characterized by collectivistic identities and political participation, places with intense expression of the problems and challenges that humanity faces.
Therefore, in our age, the capital but also employment is ‘globalized’. More specifically, in regard to the capital, as a starting point, we could set the emergence of capitalism during the 15th century. The theory of capitalist economy, as it was argued by Adam Smith in the 18th century is exactly based on the hypothesis of full mobility, globalization and internationality of productive factors. Regarding employment, a simple reading of history is enough to illustrate that the migration flows and employees’ movement had exceeded every limit during the 19th century (needless to refer to the slavery period for example which laid the African Continent in ruins since the 16th century) -so that nowadays movement to be comparatively presented as insignificant.
Having ‘globalization’ as an excuse, nowadays populations encounter a catalysis of the social capital and not only the state’s freedom and independence is aimed to be limited -even in Europe which gave birth to it as a concept, and to which, has long before indisputably offered proof of economic success and performace).
Therefore, under the mask of globalization nowadays, there is the granted will of governments and the political personnel to quickly globalize economy, to the advantage of an extremely small minority, which will prevail, irrespective of how counter productively this operates, even in capitalist terms.
Nevertheless, beyond economic crisis, the place encounters many different types of crisis. A territory is in crisis because of its confrontation with a difficult and unexpected situation which cannot deal with. This situation which holds in time unavoidably influences the economy, but also the social relations and the culture. Because a city, can not only be defined by its material elements but by certain symbolic dimensions as well. These dimensions, express a particular, very unique, system of meanings and values emerging from the structure of space, like language expressions , religious symbols, social institutions, cultural differentiations financial activities and relations etc. The city is a commonly perceptible , tangible, 3-dimensional reality. A general way of living which reveals the history, the different potentials according to the times, the social-economical circumstances and the cultural system.
In the other side economic globalization has brought significant changes in the city of the 21st century, arguing for a different model of development and sustainability which is based on the city’s cultural development and socioeconomic as well.
Cities are firstly defined as alternative position settings of global capital which results in a competition of one with the other-cities all over the world that compete to attract tourists. Their sustainability mainly depends on their economic activity on the tertiary/service sector -within this horizon, contemporary cities aim to raise their attractiveness; such attractiveness, is mainly based on economic factors but also territorial ones and is associated with the capital market -with the influx of tourists and the increase of visitors’ numbers- or the economic/investing one -with the location of enterprises and multinational branches, thus, the influx of the new residents -employees of these businesses. The social structure of cities incorporates contemporary citizens as potential consumers who move between urban centers which strive to attract them with the form of new cultural industries, consumer goods, services and entertainment.
On the other hand, there is big migration flow in Europe since the 1990s and still continues almost 30 years later all over the world, contributing to the expansion of cultural and national host countries and creating homophobic feelings. Migration which leads to the inclusion of a cultural minority is defined as one of the main factors which increase the social exclusion at the personal and group level. At a social level, national and cultural difference, multiplied via international migration, is recognized as one of the main structural changes to the societies of the European Union. These, in the area of the European city are expressed with the special attention provided nowadays to the maintenance and elevation of cultural heritage and at the same time, to the creation through the procedures of social inclusion of its intercultural contemporary identity.
To this new reality where the capitalist logic of the offer and demand prevails, the city is no longer managed in the traditional way oriented in local problem solving issues for the improvement of the quality of residents’ life. Local and regional authorities function under entrepreneural standards where the ‘product’ city, should sell in order to be sustainable; at the same time, it should preserve its internal social cohesion and its identity bringing visitors, residents, stakeholders together (in other words, all its people) via collective memory and social intercultural dialogue.
Cultural economy and the economy of free space play the most important role, where the tendency of cities to use the activities of museums, events and the contemporary cultural production as a main element and a tool of promotion is associated with the need of living original.
The urban economy is constantly evolving especially in the form of new cultural and leisure industries. New types of urban renewal and regeneration appear based on the development of new cultural, entertainment and consumer spaces.
A common ground and the basis for this kind of development is the culture and therefore, we talk about cultural tourism. Culture and cultural activities are those directly associated with urban/cultural tourism, not only but also to all forms of alternative tourism and by now has passed the specialized event management, entertainment art and experiences in tourism marketing, in city branding and the elevation of cultural investment and entrepreneurship. Nonetheless, equally accepted and indisputable is that cultural expression and cultural production can play an important role in changing behavior towards minorities and immigrants, but also to overthrow the one-sided relationship of the city’s image and its reality. In addition, the strengthening of the identity emerges as a need in the modern climate of ‘uncertainty’. Migratory waves that expand cultural and ethnic host countries may consist of a threat to the local community along with any xenophobic sentiment.
A distinct element in the city, which consists of a point of reference in regard to the point of view of the observer-with many questions on the way of its demarcation- that triggers the collective memory, becomes indispensable in the globalized era. These benchmarks are usually visible and identical either with monuments or with specific areas that refer to significant events in history, or in recent architectural interventions, which in total operate in a semiotic way to the conscious or unconscious of each observer. This observer may be a resident or visitor, for example, an internal or external consumer. The innovative design takes place in the form of urban regeneration interventions and enriching the city with new building/ landmarks, able to attract the interest of the modern world tourism.
Traditionally, a variety of people of different background and of professional orientation are associated with cultural tourism, such as officers of museums, picture galleries, local government, tourist information centers, advertisers, guides, archaeologists and architects. The local income is reinforced since the local cultural capital attracts more affluent tourists who choose longer vacations, another source of tax income is created and there is raise of the foreign exchange, not to mention the reinforcement of the local pride of the local community.
Furthermore, through cultural tourism new services develop and the already existing ones are improved substantially contributing to the quality of life of the inhabitants. Special care is provided to the health sector and districts are patrolled.
In this horizon, we suggest the balance between the social and business profile of the modern cities and regions reconstructing its profile and focusing on the most contemporary intercultural identity on the basis of which cultural tourism planning is created.
Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

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