Darkness Visible, Walking Through Walls: Towards a collaborative, cross-institutional strategy for public participation in arts and heritage across the creative city
Liss Jeffrey, eCommons/agora; McLuhan global research network; byDesign eLab, Canada
After introducing the cultural ecology of creative cities approach, Jeffrey reports on street level participant observations of the successful events Nuit Blanche 2006 & 2007, and Doors Open Toronto 2007, endorses the value of these citywide events and specifies their particular appeal. She suggests a reframing of the idea of public participation by replacing the notion of ‘visits’ with ‘threshold crossings’ and ‘relational engagements,’ and the term ‘visitors’ with ‘participants.’ These semantic shifts permit a finer focus on the fluid experience of interaction in outdoor and indoor urban settings, between audiences, artists, and works, so characteristic of these popular events. Site examples are provided. One challenge is how to transform such ephemeral experiences into invitations for future engagement with heritage institutions and arts. Jeffrey contends that addressing this challenge requires a commitment to public participation and creative engagement in what Landry (2006) has called ‘city making.’ Various tactics for more effective leveraging of enthusiasm for these cultural events are proposed -- drawn from an informatic inventory including both legacy and social networking media – and certain implications are spelled out for policy, programs, and key actors required. The case is made throughout for strategically placing a priority on funding collaborative, cross institutional events and informatic tactics that demonstrably encourage inclusive public participation and creative engagement in city-making. The guiding value is civic solidarity.
(Nota bene: This draft essay remains a bit edgy and supplies conceptual scaffolding for the intended interactive presentation of “Darkness Visible” at ICHIM07. During the live interaction, the theory will mostly be omitted, and delegates invited to contest or refine these propositions, which will be further illustrated. As time permits, the live version may feature an improv sketch of an original concept developed at Jeffrey’s byDesign eLab that illustrates a homegrown vision of public participation as creative engagement as recommended in this account.)
Keywords: heritage information and society, convergence of institutions, collaborations, innovative design, public participation