Culture and urban development in the North/South perspective

December 2008 -

"Any sustainable development programme that excludes the cultural component limits its chances for success." With these words ARCADE project coordinator, Florent Le Duc, initiated ARCADE's fourth international seminar, Culture and Urban Development in the North/South Perspective held in Lille, France, November, 2008. The conference assembled a diverse range of actors to continue the complex and pressing task of assessing what such assertions might mean for those working in development.


Dance group Katanga from Malta

Mario Azzopardi's Malta-based case study, Theatre action as a mediating force in urban cultural development, highlighted the setbacks and opportunities facing a developmentalism sensitive to culture's integrality. Poised between the south of Europe and the north of Africa, with one of the world's highest population density counts, Maltese society is reacting to a continuous influx of mostly-African asylum-seekers with xenophobia and public racism. In counteraction, the Malta Drama Centre stages productions written and performed by refugees. This is viewed as part of an integrated approach to overcoming the 'fundamentalist allergies to African people', from whence immense social exclusion and economic depravation derive. Despite violent hostility towards these efforts, the theatre projects have had a positive impact both within and without the refugee community.

Dr Kris Rampersad, a member of the Caribbean Task Force on the UNESCO Convention, presented her case study Trini Lime Time: Challenges to policy-making in rebel cultures. A view from Trinidad and Tobago. The study telescoped cultural misconceptions inherent in the 2003 and 2005 UNESCO Conventions, presenting a critical view from the South on cultural policies 'handed down by the North'. An example: the dynamic logic of Trinidad and Tobago's 'liming culture' is crucially at odds with efforts to incorporate it into 'static' western policy models. To promote a more productive, workable form of development through cultural policy, she suggests, policy creation should be a shared task, receptive to the living dynamism of culture.