New organisms in the cultural ‘ecosystems’ of cities
This empirical study attempts to provide insight into how to best cope with the realities of rooting and operating new venues for culture and the arts. The culture sector in Poland was, until recently, one of the most important consumers of EU funds allocated for numerous new buildings for cultural institutions: concert halls, museums, theatres, cultural centers and libraries, newly emplaced in modernized urban spaces. This emergent phenomenon raises a series of questions concerning the opportunities and challenges for new cultural locations and the impact on their users, audiences, employees, institution leaders, institutional competitors, local authorities, individuals or communities. These emplacements or rooting processes are challenging economic, social and cultural sustainability in cities. The qualitatively collected data bring to light the set of findings and practical recommendations aimed both at existing, newly located cultural venues, as well as the objects of future investments. In this chapter, those insights on newly emplaced cultural spaces, culture and arts venues in Poland are, at the same time, food for thought and discussion on the purpose, use and relevance of the metaphors of ‘cultural ecosystem’, ‘rooting’ in arts management studies, as well as the concept of sustainable development and the subsidiarity principle. There is a lesson we can learn from particular stories of beginnings, the foundational efforts of arts administration leaders, stories of attracting engagement in local communities. Again, taking Poland’s case as the laboratory of socio-economic transformation, with a few local cases having universal relevance, reveals the potential of the broader applicability of such solutions.