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Municipal cultural infrastructure: Terminology, classification and current state

(Les infrastructures culturelles dans la municipalité : Nomenclature, recensement et état des lieux)

January 27, 201227 January 2012

Cultural facilities / infrastructure

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This report is intended as a first step in identifying norms and standards for municipal provision of cultural facilities. The report argues that cultural infrastructure “plays an important role in the quality of life of citizens”, local economic health, cultural vitality, and tourism. However, the authors note that no norms currently exist for municipal provision of cultural infrastructure, such as the number and types of facilities on a per resident, per square kilometre or other basis. As such, the report indicates that “it appears that the quantity and diversity of infrastructure in cities or regions result more from political or social choices” than from standards or norms.

The report proposes a typology of cultural infrastructure, including groupings by cultural discipline, function (creation, production, distribution, dissemination, training and conservation), and clientele (local, regional, national, international). The detailed definition of cultural infrastructure proposed in the report incorporates many of these elements:

“A cultural infrastructure is a building, an office or a physical space that has a long useful life, that was built over a relatively long period of time, that does not have a relevant substitute in the short or medium term, that has specialized materials, that is predominantly dedicated to one or more cultural function (including creation, production, distribution, dissemination, training and conservation), and that plays a special supporting role to other factors of production in the cultural disciplines of visual arts, crafts, media arts, performing arts, heritage, museums, archives, libraries, publishing, sound recording, film, audiovisual, radio and television.”

The report provides an extensive list of cultural facilities by discipline and function.

Interestingly, the report indicates that per capita norms in some other areas, such as sports facilities, have been revised in favour of more complex norms that incorporate a range of factors, including demand, demographic changes, community engagement, and development programs.

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