Wed 16 Jan

Live Case 1: Co-Creating a Regional Cultural Strategy in Tukums

The Living Lab in Tukums aims to preserve and foster the rich cultural life of the region by identifying key development objectives and priorities in the cultural sector and agreeing upon their governance arrangements. The primary focus of the Living Lab is the first ever cultural strategy for the entire municipality. While hardly innovative in itself, the process will aim to be participatory and combine the insights of cultural practitioners and cultural services users from across the municipality, as well as those of the researchers and representatives of the municipal government. The Living Lab will, therefore, aim to develop a comprehensive approach to cultural life that respects the diversity of urban and rural contexts across Tukums municipality as much as possible. This will be achieved by using several methods to ensure that different perspectives and practical considerations are brought to bear upon the planning of cultural life in the region. The methods will likely include stakeholder mapping, joint visioning exercises and scenario building workshops with the hope that non-traditional forms of planning will help to articulate novel approaches to organising and preserving cultural life.

The Living Lab has already started to develop governance and coordination structures to organise work on the cultural strategy. The core Living Lab team responsible for the daily organisation of activities includes representatives of Tukums municipality (including the Director of the Municipal Department of Culture), as well as researchers from the research partner (BSC). Furthermore, there is also an intention to hire a professional consultant who would be a member of the management group and facilitate work on the cultural strategy.

Opportunities

Work on the strategy will provide an opportunity for the municipality to develop a more resource-efficient way of managing cultural life in the region and improve the quality and accessibility of culture in the region. The strategy has the potential to consolidate cultural life in the region by strengthening the connections and improving the flow of people, resources and ideas between various parts of the municipality – urban and rural areas in particular. Existing relationships between the municipal government and people in charge of cultural life at the local level are characterised by insufficient cooperation and tension regarding the level of autonomy that should be granted to parishes. Work on the cultural strategy will provide a space to try out new ideas, understand why previous attempts have failed and hopefully reconcile conflicting approaches.

Challenges

The nature of the endeavour means that various different stakeholders and agents will be involved in the process. Consequently, one of the key challenges for the project will be to align the diverse perspectives and visions of cultural life in Tukums municipality sufficiently in order to prepare a cohesive cultural strategy. Furthermore, the somewhat open-ended nature of the process may lead to frustration from some parties who may be unfamiliar with the methods and facilitation techniques employed as part of Living Labs. Finally, while the goal of the Living Lab is to streamline the way cultural life is organised, the ambitions of the cultural strategy will be limited by the financial resources made available by the municipality. Hopefully, however, none of the visions will be too resource-intensive to derail the process.

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ROBUST is a European research project involving 24 partners from 11 countries. ROBUST receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727988.

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