Cultural centres, sociability, and the societal value of culture

Socio-cultural centres, community centres, social centres, youth centres, creative centres… are among the many names of the cultural centre. So, what are the cultural centres, and why are they important for the societal value of culture?

Cultural centres exist in many forms but are easily recognizable by their multifaceted and open character – think accessible places of many socio-cultural activities which respond to various cultural and social needs. Exhibitions, performance art and arthouse cinema can go along with dance classes and sport activities, creative workshops and talks about wellbeing in cultural centres – places where the ‘high’, ‘popular’ and ‘alternative’ in culture respond to the needs of the ‘social’.

By their multifaceted and open character, cultural centres nurture cultural and social synergies based on ‘different levels of ability and experience’, bridging many gaps, for example those which can exist between ‘amateurs and professionals, young and old, cultural diversities and multiculturalism’, revealing an integrative nature.[1]

The integrative nature of cultural centres can be seen in cultural centre’s common reliance on the public-civil partnerships, various forms of participatory governance, and in attempts to integrate private and commercial dimensions into a wider public framework. Their forms of organization can be seen as partnerships, connecting people and practices while encouraging cooperation and mobility, strengthening communities and enriching their local settings.

Cultural centres can be especially important in the world requiring ever more cooperation, integration and effort in building the capabilities of social and cultural understanding. They can support joint cultural practices and participation, fostering sociability, building social and cultural bridges, and facilitating communication about culture and society.

In the light of the EU Agenda for culture emphasis on the societal value of culture, INVENT project sees cultural centres as increasingly important.

What do you think about cultural centres?

Which cultural centre(s) would you regard as a positive example?

Which kinds of programme/content/activities do you regard as important in cultural centres?

At the bottom of the post you can see pictures of some well-known cultural centres in Europe and their activities.Pictures were provided courtesy of ‘Platforma 9,81’, an architectural collective from Croatia[2].

[1] Vidović, Žuvela and Mišković (2018), Participatory governance in culture in the Republic

of Croatia, pp. 62, in: Do it Together. Practices and Tendencies of Participatory Governance in Culture in the Republic of Croatia. Available at:ć, Žuvela and Mišković, pp. 62

[2] More information about ‘Platforma 9,81’ is available here.

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