Gentrification is a big issue in today's major metropoles. The supposedly free market causes investors to see cities as pure financial value, rather than potential cultural capital. This leads to skyrocketing rents and a general homogenisation of urban culture. In other words: there is no room anymore for small creative spaces in between all the chain hotels and generic tourist clubs. Luckily, a team of dedicated cultural guardians has a plan.
[ Introduction video to Cultural Footprint ]
Creative Footprint is a non-profit initiative that measures and indexes live music space. It advocates for the protection of creative space globally by gathering quantitative as well as qualitative data, and using this information to influence cultural policy. At the moment, its main objective is mapping New York City's creative space.
This is how it works: the project initially focuses on music scenes and will gather an unprecedented volume of data about the live music venues in a city. Each space (e.g. nightclub, venue, public performance space, etc.) will be analysed, and 15 key data components in three distinct categories (space, content and framework conditions) will be collected. Lastly, a city-wide Creative Footprint - a tangible score out of ten - is calculated.
The project itself was set up by a team of five “rebels in a suit;” scene experts advocating cultural diversity and anti-gentrification in metropolitan areas. One of these was Mirik Milan, who held the office of night mayor of Amsterdam from 2012 to a couple of weeks ago. As the first-ever night mayor in a major city he represented the city's thriving night-culture, dealing with problems as well as the positive site of life in the after-hours. By now London and New York have installed night mayors too.
[ Former night mayor of Amsterdam Mirik Milan about Cultural Footprint ]
So far, one city has been processed, and the result did not disappoint. Berlin acquired a solid 8.2 as an index of the city's creative space. As mentioned above, the project right now focuses on New York City, but its aim is to create a worldwide database and address the issue of gentrification on a global scale. Follow Creative Footprint on Facebook to stay up to date and contribute in order to make your city stay culturally healthy and well.
[ More information on Creative Footprint at: http://creative-footprint.org/ ]