The Baltic Sea Cultural Centre is one of several partners of the international project Urb Cultural Planning. Its aim is to make social life better in areas of the Baltic Region which are in the process of revitalisation. The main tool to work with is culture. The activities in Gdansk were carried out in two districts – Nowy Port (New Port) and Stare Przedmieście (Old Suburb).
Urb Cultural Planning is a UE project focused on municipalities and rural areas of the Baltic Sea region. It is financed by the Interreg Europe as part of the European Regional Development Fund. The project is aimed to develop and enhance a cultural revitalisation of the districts located outside the strict municipal centres. The main objectives of the projects are: local communities bonding, establishing a sense of self-agency and empowment the citizens to participate in social life of their neighbourhoods. What is equally crucial is to create sort of a bridge between the city dwellers and local authorities.
There are 14 partners involved in the project. They are cultural and social organisations. The Baltic Sea Cultural Centre is one of them. There are also 36 associated NGOs from 8 countries. The activities of the project are carried out in the following municipalities: Riga (Latvia), Pori (Finland), Narskov (Denmark), Visaginas and Vilnus (Lithuania), Nykøbing Falster (Denmark), Kiel (Germany) and Gdańsk (Poland). Neighbourhoods in need of cultural revival have been chosen in each of the municipalities. In Gdańsk it has been Nowy Port and Stare Przedmieście.
The local project coordinators in Gdansk from the BSCC are Magdalena Zakrzewska-Duda and Katarzyna Szewciów.
Public space planning is not only a matter of aesthetics. In recent years the urbanistics focuses on creating sustainable space. A city does not only need to impress with monuments in its centre, but also be citizens-friendly – regardless of the district. This concerns even more cities awaiting revitalisation. Sustainable development is also educating the young about public space by inviting them in participation in social life of their communities.
Cultural mapping is a method of Urb Cultural Planning. Its fundamental value is dialogue with the citizens which works as a process of testing different ideas. It enables the artists teams involved in the project to learn about the real needs of the local communities in terms of space, and finally to implement the vision. Each team summarises the cultural mapping by creating a book of good practices.
BSCC in the project
The role of BSCC in the whole project are reflected in the phases below:
1) Gaming – city in Minecraft
Gaminifaction plays crucial role in Urb Cultural Planning. The cities which enrolled in this stage of the project, are: Kiel, Karlskrona (the game elaborated in University of Skövde), Riga and Gdańsk. The University of Inland (Norway) took charge of the coordination of this stage.
The idea of gamification is to use elements of game to solve problems of everyday life, and, with our project – everyday social life. Gaming in our activities is based on Minecraft. It was inspired by “Block by Block” by UN (https://www.blockbyblock.org/). That showed us that the legendary game is excellent in encouraging a talk on urban development, especially in the light of public space. At the same time, Minecraft turned out to be an ideal tool to include young people.
The BSCC used a unique Minecraft model of Stare Przedmieście. Next, the game was used in school classess. With the help of the virtual reality, students of 67th Elementary School in Gdańsk could express their feelings about their neighbourhood. We are working on following activities with Stare Przedmieście in the Minecraft world.
Pilot gamification project is going to be presented at an international conference as part of Game of Cities: Culture, Participation, Democracy project. The main organiser is the Government of the Pomeranian Voivodeship.
Here is the list of articles about the particular phases of our work on Game of Gdansk:
Do games educate? Karolina Cisło on gaming
IT in GoG: it's easy! Tomasz Fedak on Twine
Enter the Game of Gdansk! Tutorials and prototype game
Game of Gdansk for seniors
Reflections on the creative development and use of Game of Gdansk
Mapping Impressions with Minecraft
Urb Cultural Planning is also artistic residencies. The BSCC was appointed to coordinate the residential programme. We fulfilled that task with the help and expertise of Aleksandra Grzonkowska – curator and PhD candidate at Art Academy in Gdańsk. An important part of this stage was collection of data from all partners containing the needs of the citizens in the respective neighbourhoods. The residents’ task was to fulfil these needs with locally adjusted artistic activities in the urban areas.
We were collecting the data and creating an online database containing information on artists and creative workers invited to participate in the residential programme (June-October 2019). That took place in the partnering municipalities of Poland, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark and Russia (Kalilingrad Oblast). Next, we supported the partners in the residents’ recruitment process. Subsequently, we were completing the documentation (photographs, films, interviews, texts) of the residencies in each place. In result, we created an e-publication (in English) which can be treated as a good pracite book which we are proud to share (see: Residencies Overview).
3) „Road Map” – strategic document
The next task of the BSCC was to create “Road Map” – a strategic document enabling the local authorities the use of cultural planning methodology. “Road Map” is a special kind of inspiration map which can be useful in creating effective and sustainable urban development policy based on social innovations. The documents are being worked on in cooperation with Urb Cultural Planning partners – in English, to be translated into local languages on a further stage. The work on “Road Map” is being supervised by the experts of Polish Urbanists Association, Gdańsk Division.
More information on upcoming UCP events will be communicated soon.
Project website: www https://urbcultural.eu/