Deciphering Culture

Archive for the ‘Arts & Community’ Category

The role of creativity, culture, and the arts in transforming cities and nations

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On Monday January 25, The Cultural Agents Initiative presented a dialogue of Mayor Antanas Mockus of Bogotá, Colombia, and Mayor Edi Rama of Tirana, Albania on the role of creativity, culture, and the arts in transforming cities and nations.

(From Community Arts Network): Mockus (mayor 1996-1997; 2001-2003), a philosopher, became known for springing surprising, humorous and tranformative initiatives on the popoulace of Bogota involving grand gestures. Painter Edi Rama, mayor since 2000, is known for his Clean and Green project in Tirana, resulting in 96,700 square meters of green land in the city, the planting of nearly 1,800 trees and the painting of old buildings in what has come to be known as Edi Rama colors (very bright yellow, green, violet).

For more info. check out:

Video of event

“Art can help urbanization speakers say” — The Daily Free Press

“Academic turns city into a social experiment” — Harvard University Gazette (2004)

One of former Bogotá Mayor Antanas Mockus' many inspired strategies for changing the mindset - and, eventually, the behavior - of the city's unruly inhabitants was the installation of traffic mimes on street corners. (Photo courtesy of El Tiempo)

Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana” (World Mayor website announcement of the World Mayor for 2008):

The journey of Edi Rama, winner of the City Mayors World Mayor 2004 contest, to the mayor’s office in Tirana, the capital of Albania, arguably began in what most would call a raw and rough-and-tumble way inasmuch as, even though he, while still teaching at the Albanian Academy of Arts – admittedly a site of political ferment after the termination of communism and the birth of the Democratic Party in 1990 – had quickly left what he considered a bogus movement, and was doing no more than criticize both the socialists and the democrats in print, someone showed how seriously they took that by lying in wait for him in front of his home and beating him nearly to death. Mr. Rama is in no doubt that his attackers that night in 1997 were sent by then-president Sali Berisha…. (to read more, click the link).

Written by Jeffrey Callen

January 30, 2010 at 5:48 pm

“Musical Community”

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Little Red and the Dukes of Rhythms from the late 1940s Lovey Lovejoy, Little Red, Big Dad, Owen Felder, Count Otis Matthews (From the Personal Collection of Clarence "Little Red" Tenpenny)

My work on the interrelationship between art and community began with research on the blues nightclub district that existed in North Richmond, California from the mid-1940s until the late 1960s. My MA thesis looked at the wide-ranging effects the development and subsequent loss of a thriving nightclub district had on communal life. In the next few months, I will be revisiting this work but for now I’m posting a copy of my thesis ( Musical Community: The “Blues Scene” in North Richmond, California. UC Santa Barbara, Dept. of Music. 2001)   and looking forward to any feedback I might receive.

Written by Jeffrey Callen

January 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm

LA Commons: Engaging Youth in Community-based Cultural Tourism

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Interesting project profiled in the Community Arts Network newsletter that takes a new approach to cultural tourism:

LA Commons: Engaging Youth in Community-based Cultural Tourism

By Karen Mack

Los Angeles is home to many communities that represent the largest concentration of a given ethnicity outside of the country of origin. The city has a network of ethnic enclaves that are rich with traditions, history, art, cuisine and community. Yet these neighborhoods are often defined by disinvestment, high poverty rates and physical deterioration. Given the growing popularity of “cultural tourism,” a valuable opportunity exists to leverage local cultural assets to create a community-based cultural tourism model aimed at developing local economic and social capital. LA Commons has partnered with the UCLA Department of Urban Planning to implement a program called Uncommon LA to work with culturally rich neighborhoods to take advantage of this opportunity. The model being developed by the team fuses the LA Commons community-engaged approach to artistic and cultural programming with the Urban Planning department’s emphasis on community and economic development practices. Young people play a central role in the model as documenters of local experience, creators of artwork that reflect this experience and interpreters of local culture for visitors to the neighborhood. (to read more click here)

Painting in foreground by student artist Devi Ramirez as part of Fear/Less Installation in MacArthur Park. Photo by Dolores Chavez

Written by Jeffrey Callen

January 4, 2010 at 11:54 am

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