Q&A: How cultural institutions help make cities resilient

Public spaces and cultural institutions play a critical role in cities, providing space for communities to interact, educate, and connect.

Through public art and festivals, practitioners of creative placemaking are using artistic interventions to bring new perspectives to communities and create environments conducive to novel ideas and creative thinking. Integrating arts and culture into a community’s development can help that community take advantage of its existing strengths – and talents – and involve members of the community that are typically marginalized or disconnected. Integrating the arts and culture help cities consider and realize multiple benefits of integrated solutions.

Museums, art galleries, and educational institutions may help bring communities closer together, as in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The city’s museums and cultural spaces have held an annual Museum Night, making important community cultural spaces more accessible and helping the city become more livable at night.

Cultural institutions may help communities heal after times of distress, as in Medellin, Colombia. The city’s Museo Casa de la Memoria is dedicated to remembering Colombia’s history of armed conflict – and binding the community to stand against future repetition of violence. The space helps the community better connect with and understand the city’s historic legacies, encouraging open, critical dialogue.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, art and culture have been critical in helping a community recover from a significant shock, a devastating earthquake in 2011. Projects such as the Cardboard Cathedral have successfully drawn in local citizens to participate in the creation of public art.