Hosted by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Brooklyn Cultural District, and the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance

GCDN meeting in Brooklyn – May 23-25, 2016

In May 2016, the Global Cultural Districts Network gathered over 85 international delegates in Brooklyn for its third bi-annual convening, hosted by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Cultural District. Executive leaders of cultural districts and cultural institutions from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, Argentina, Singapore, Hong Kong and China spent two and half days discussing topics of common interest, including trends in the design of cultural spaces, metrics of success in cultural districts, leadership development, the management of night time economies, policy development and implementation, festival strategies, and more. In addition to panel presentations, the meeting featured workshops and case studies about naturally occurring cultural districts and emerging cultural districts in Argentina, Spain, and Hong Kong.

GCDN delegates at Governors Island. Photo: Susan Farley Photography.

The convening kicked off with a tour of Governors Island, led by Leslie Koch, President of the Trust for Governors Island. Delegates learned about the successful programming strategies for animating this 172-acre island off of southern Manhattan, featuring public open space, educational not-for-profit and commercial facilities, and various other attractions such as “Hammock Grove,” and the latest feature, “The Hills,” designed by landscape architects West 8.

Leslie Koch, President of the Trust for Governors Island, introduces delegates to programming concepts for the Island.

Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and Katy Clark, President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, offered welcoming remarks and gave a brief overview of the rich history of cultural infrastructure in New York and Brooklyn.

Over the next two days, delegates discussed and debated various topics relevant to those leading and planning cultural districts around the world. Below is the full agenda of the meeting:

May 24, 2016

GCDN Brooklyn. Origin Story

From left to right: Keith Stubblefield, Brooklyn Academy of Music; Karen Brooks Hopkins, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; MaryAnne Gilmartin, Forest City Ratner Companies; Elizabeth Streb, STREB. Photo: Susan Farley Photography.

Origin Story: The rise of Brooklyn as a Cultural Hub
Karen Brooks Hopkins, Senior Fellow in Residence, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Former President, BAM
MaryAnne Gilmartin, President & CEO, Forest City Ratner Companies
Elizabeth Streb, Action Architect/Choreographer, STREB
Moderated by Keith Stubblefield, Chief Financial Officer, Brooklyn Academy of Music

This session’s speakers discussed the history of Brooklyn’s transformation into a major cultural hub and shared insights into its current cultural profile, identity and prospects.

The group was then led on a walking tour of the Brooklyn Cultural District, featuring the Barclays Center, Theatre for a New Audience, BRIC/Urban Glass, and the historic BAM Harvey Theater.

New Spaces and Places – Stories of Innovation
Sir Nicholas Kenyon, General Manager, Barbican Centre
Joshua Dachs, Principal, Fisher Dachs Associates, Theatre Planning & Design
Lisa Havilah, Director, CarriageWorks, Australia
Louis Yu Kwok-lit, Executive Director, Performing Arts, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
Moderated by Howard Herring, President and CEO, New World Symphony

Expectations of arts spaces are changing in response to changes in audience expectations, the opportunities offered by technology and changes in the demands of artists. At the same time, traditional expectations by traditional audiences remain. How do we square those circles? The panelists shared insights on innovations around building and programming cultural spaces in cities.

Workshop | Metrics of Success: Learning from the Track-It Hennepin Process (Hennepin Theatre Trust, Minneapolis)
Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Principal, Metris Arts Consulting
Naomi Pesky, Vice President of External Relations, Hennepin Theatre Trust

Since our last two meetings, in Montreal and London, the appropriate “metrics of success” for cultural districts has been an ongoing preoccupation. In 2012, Metris Arts Consulting led the development of a local indicator system, Track-It Hennepin to support Plan-It Hennepin, a year-long creative placemaking initiative to re-imagine Minneapolis’ Hennepin Avenue. Through Track-It Hennepin, stakeholders would be able to monitor progress toward reaching long-term goals, promote achievements, increase accountability, and adjust strategy to changing circumstances. Plan-It Hennepin was led by partners Hennepin Theatre Trust, Walker Art Center, Artspace and the City of Minneapolis, with Tom Borrup of Creative Community Builders as the lead consultant for the entire project.

In this session, Anne Gadwa Nicodemus and Naomi Pesky presented the process of building and implementing this tracking system and facilitated a workshop addressing members’ interests in this area.

Interlude | Leadership Development: What are you looking for?
Q&A with Janice Price, President of Banff Centre and Becky Schutt of AEA Consulting

Canada’s Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is currently undertaking a review of the training and development needs of the next generation of cultural leaders in the context of the development of its international arts leadership training. This session was an opportunity to address and identify common leadership needs of cultural districts.

After Dark: Advice from the Night Mayor of Amsterdam
Mirik Milan, Night Mayor of Amsterdam

Cities worldwide face increasing challenges around night time economies, such as alcohol-related problems, violence, noise complaints, and more. Some cities, like Amsterdam, have implemented “night mayors,” – representatives of those industries which thrive at night (bars, night clubs, etc.) – to find innovative ways of dealing with these issues, including implementing staggered opening and closing hours of bars, adding ambassadors to help with crowd control after closing, and other inventive ideas. Mirik Milan, the official Night Mayor of Amsterdam, explained the success of some of these initiatives in Amsterdam and shared how these can be implemented elsewhere.

GCDN Brooklyn _Night Mayor

Mirik Milan, Night Mayor of Amsterdam.

Evening Events

GCDN delegates enjoyed a cocktail reception hosted by BAM, followed by dinner hosted by AEA Consulting, at Bacchus Bistro in Brooklyn.

May 25, 2016

Presentation: L’Hospitalet Cultural District, the new Brooklyn of Barcelona?
Presented by Nuria Marín Martínez, Mayor of L’Hospitalet
Juan Carlos Belloso, Founder and Director, Future Places

L’Ajuntament de L’Hospitalet, the second largest city of the Metropolitan Area of ​​Barcelona, has placed culture at the center of municipal policy, understanding culture as a source for urban, economic and social transformation for the city. The Mayor of L’Hospitalet shared insights into the plans to create a new cultural district in an old industrial area of ​​about 25 hectares, which already boasts a wide range of cultural facilities and companies from the creative sector. The aim is for l’Hospitalet Cultural District to become an urban space for experimentation and innovation where culture acts as the main protagonist.

Developments in Policy and Practice
Duncan Pescod, Chief Executive Officer, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority
Interviewed by Adrian Ellis, Director, Global Cultural Districts Network

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority is responsible for developing the West Kowloon Cultural District into a variety of arts and cultural facilities for hosting world-class exhibitions, performances and arts and cultural events. Stretching across 40 hectares of reclaimed land, the WKCD is one of the largest cultural projects in the world, blending art, education and open space.

Workshop | Learning from Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts
Tom Borrup, Principal, Creative Community Builders
Caron Atlas, Director, Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York and Director, Arts & Democracy
Gonzalo Casals, Vice President of Programs and Community Engagement, Friends of the High Line

What do those planning and managing cultural districts have to learn from the dynamics of naturally occurring districts? A lot…with respect to animation, scale, mixed-use and the relationship between production and consumption. This workshop provided a context to explore those lessons and how to apply them.

GCDN Brooklyn_Workshop

Delegates discussing issues of common concern during break-out session of workshop.

Presentation | Buenos Aires Distrito de las Artes
Diego Radivoy, Director of Creative Industries, City of Buenos Aires

Distrito de las Artes BA is a two-fold project which involves both promoting the arts sector and redeveloping the neighborhood of La Boca, a specific area located in the south of Buenos Aires, known for its rich cultural heritage. Diego Radivoy, of the City of Buenos Aires, provided an overview of the Distrito de las Artes, which is one of three creative districts in the city.

GCDN Updates
Adrian Ellis, Director, GCDN
Jessica Ferey, Deputy Director, GCDN
Juan Carlos Belloso, Founder and Director, Future Places
Kennie Ting, Group Director, Museums and Development at the National Heritage Board, Singapore

GCDN leadership presented an overview of current and future projects and announced the next GCDN convening taking place in Singapore, November 2-4, 2016.

Music and Placemaking: Festivalization of Cities
Amy Terrill, Executive Vice President, Music Canada
Jonathan R. Wynn, University of Massachusetts – Amherst
Moderated by Brent Karpf Reidy, Senior Consultant, AEA Consulting

We closed with a session on the strategic role that festivals play in urban strategies, with insights from the author of a recently published book on American Festivals and Placemaking in Austin, Nashville and Newport, and the VP of Music Canada, an organization that has been instrumental to Canada’s broader music sector and to the encouragement of city music strategies throughout Canada. Brent Reidy of AEA Consulting opened the session by noting the growing presence of the word “festivalization” and explained that festivals are a major programming strategy in most cultural districts.

For more information on how to join the GCDN or to request a copy of the summary report of the Brooklyn convening,

please contact info@gcdn.net.


Banner photo by Susan Farley Photography