Urban Backstages Cooperation with Theatrum Mundi


Elahe Karimnia

Urban Backstages is a research project, initiated in late 2018, focuses on the design and provision of infrastructures for cultural production in four European cities – London, Paris, Glasgow and Marseille – taking the form of a detailed case-study led publication and set of propositional design and planning tools for city-makers. The project follows ethnography methodology including different instances of purposebuilt and adapted cultural infrastructure.

In each place [case study] we document the design, management, funding, activities they support, and the extra-economic values they produce for their surroundings, and the kind of urban fabric they are situated. The data collection and documentation for London and Glasgow case studies have been completed during 2019, and this process is followed up for Paris and Marseille during 2020. In London and Glasgow 40 interviews were conducted, and 27 interviews were selected for use on the database. We also use other methods such as document analysis, including policy document, planning proposals, and newspaper articles. Recently, we tried a participatory method through an exchange programme between Glasgow and Marseille [3 days in each city and involving 8 actors in total] to analyse and compare different concepts
and models of cultural infrastructure in each city through a series of visits, conversations and a workshop.

Our recent approach for sharing the research can be summarised in three innovative formats we took:

  1. With the help of professional graphic and interaction design studio, we have started a brand new and innovative way to bring data together and created a database to archive and structure our data. The outcome also encompasses visualisation of data and the complex relationships between them. The database is completed for London and soon for Glasgow, and will be done for Marseille and Paris during 2020.
  2. We have decided to move our approach to writing up the research on from producing one major report for each city, to producing a wider range of articles and mini-publications, allowing us to focus on specific questions. We have upcoming articles with MONU, Faktur, and Lo Squaderno journals, as well as existing mini-publications on extra case studies in London and Buenos Aires.
  3. We created an ethnographic short film to present the results of London case studies, exhibited in our exhibitions in Glasgow and Buenos Aires, and received really well by different range of audience. Our goal is to use this approach for other case studies and to make a film of the whole project including all four cities / case studies.
Participants of an exchange programme between people using, making, and planning cultural infrastructures (Civic House and CCA, Glasgow – CoCo Velten, Marseille – Theaum Mundi, London)
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Belongs to: Centre for the Future of Places
Last changed: May 04, 2020