Animation of Public Space through the Arts: Towards More Sustainable Communities

Nancy Duxbury gives us an introduction to the complex sphere of cultural sustainability. Nancy Duxbury is PhD and Senior Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

Three dominant conceptual frames of cultural sustainability.

There is an ever-growing interest in the place of culture in sustainability / sustainable development:
- In academia/research – multifaceted, across a range of disciplines, international
- In artistic and social spheres
- In policy and planning contexts

Three dominant conceptual frames of cultural sustainability
1) Culture in sustainable development: Culture has a supportive role, expanding the “3 pillar” model. Culture stands, linked but autonomous
2) Culture for sustainable development: Culture balances the pillars and guide sustainable development between economic, social, and ecological pressures and needs. Culture is the essential foundation and structure
3) Culture as sustainable development: Culture integrate, co-ordinate and guide all aspects of sustainable action

Policy “scripts” / themes
There are 8 policy-related contexts in which cultural sustainability discussions are emerging / 8 overlapping themes:
- the negotiation of memories, identities and heritage
- the relevance of place, landscape and territory
- the complexities of social life, commons and participation
- the centrality of creative practices and activities 
- culturally sensitive policies for economic development
- nature conservation
- the importance of increasing awareness and knowledge of sustainability
- policies aiming at transformations

What can art do?
- Provide new ways of perceiving and inquiring about the world, provoking and fostering changes in thinking, acting, and living together
- Activate public engagement, catalyzing social relations and evolving new ways of working and living
- Physically and symbolically change the spaces in which we live and relate, fostering greater connections with our natural and built environments

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