Bringing arts and life together
There has been a tradition of bringing arts and life together in the Ruhr region going back to one of Germany’s most important patrons of the arts, Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874 until 1921). Among other things, he founded the Folkwang painting school (1901) as well as the Museum Folkwang, then in Hagen, now in Essen; while the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010’s slogan “Change through Culture – Culture through Change” also traces its origins back to Osthaus, already serving as the inspiration for the International Building Exhibition IBA Emscherpark (1989 until 1999) that advanced structural change in the Ruhr region through investment in industrial culture, among other things.
The IBA already connected town planning, social, cultural and ecological strategies, investing around 2.5 billion Euros in 120 Ruhr region projects. At the start of the 21st century, the determining factors of structural change as well as urban development have changed – public authority in Europe is lacking in financial scope for large-scale investment in infrastructure. This holds especially true for those European cities that struggle with high social costs due to structural change. Structural change in the Ruhr region is no exception within the European context.
A model for a cultural-economic form of urban development
The Creative.Quarters Ruhr want to be a model for a cultural-economic form of urban development in Europe. Due to technological change and radically altered conditions regarding their economy, these cities face new expectations voiced by their citizens: More participation, more transparency, more mobility and a hitherto unknown dynamic brought about by rapid technological and digital developments pertain not only to products and production, but more and more to social and urban structures as well.
Wifi-access is no longer just a question of business location but also affects urban quality of living – as a driving force for a city’s attractiveness. Urban culture changes, not in the least due to said processes, finding its own means of communication beyond established media structures in print, radio, and TV, owing to the digital world and social media. The question is: What is going to define a culture city of the future? Inventory keeping through funding of established institutions or the financing of scope for new forms of cultural and artistic development?
Urban development is a learning space for the future
It is ecce’s conviction that cultural, economic and urban development has to provide, now more than ever, a frame for dialogue in which interest can be negotiated, leading to a mutual vision and according action. Investment on behalf of public authority will be dispatched only following on the basis of an integrative strategy developed in dialogue with all stakeholders in a quarter – with those investments serving as impulse and trigger for a locally held persuasion on how to develop “one’s own quarter”. Therefore, the Creative.Quarters Ruhr programme regards a quarter as a cultural, social space for dialogue and learning first and, subsequently, also as an economic space. But what forces operate in the Creative. Quarters, which stakes must be tied together in integration to work out a shared vision?
Seeing the municipal administration as a long-term stable anchor for urban development, the departments of culture, economy and urban planning are ideally working in tandem within the quarters. So, the strategic cooperation of the spheres of culture, economy and urbanism forms the core of the Creative.Quarter Ruhr programme – not limited to municipal authorities, but together with property owners, stakeholders in Culture and the Creative Industries and individual artists. A city takes shape in roundtable talks in the quarters or in other forms of dialogue, between bottom-up and top-down strategies, driven by cultural Impulse.