Urban Backstages, looks at the hidden forms of production that underpin the cultural life of the city. Taking diverse spaces of cultural production, we set out to challenge the narrow definitions of culture in planning, identifying the inherent inequalities in investment for culture. Cultural regeneration strategies often default to funding landmark cultural institutions, public sites where culture is consumed and displayed, often overlooking backstage spaces such as workshops, rehearsal spaces, migrant businesses and depots where cultural production takes place. Urban Backstages takes a look at the backstage of public cultural life, focusing on hidden infrastructures spanning across London, Glasgow, Marseille and Buenos Aires. By understanding the Elephant & Castle arches’ underlying infrastructural conditions and how these allow for its appropriation by different cultural producers, different strategies for socioeconomic sustainability in the city are revealed.
Elephant and Castle Infrastructure Walk
The walk is an opportunity to open the doors of these spaces to a wider public, discussing how we balance an appreciation of their importance without the need to put them ‘on stage’. Beyond the iconic modernist landmark of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre we will meet some of the individuals working in these places: from the Victorian tenement buildings/workshops of Pullens Yard, to the audiovisual equipment hire depots of Robert Dashwood Way, and the Maldonado walk Latin American businesses nested in readapted railway arches. We also hope that by making these spaces more visible we can contribute to raising awareness of the importance of keeping these sites of cultural production.
The tour will be guided by Andrea Cetrulo, Associate at Theatrum Mundi and an urban theorist, DJ and cultural programmer, who has worked with members of Elephant’s Latin communities to involve them in our research. She will be joined by researchers from the team working on the Urban Backstages project.