I’ve recently come across four books that look as if they will be well worth a solid examination by those involved in grassroots cultural action/policy making (those that have time to read, that is). I haven’t had the chance to get my hands directly on any of them, but given what I know about many of the authors/editors/contributors, I’m sure that they will all offer useful new perspectives. They are:
Baeker, Greg (ed) Rediscovering the Wealth of Places: a municipal cultural planning handbook for Canadian communities (2010) Municipal World ISBN: 9780919779914
Brault, Simon No Culture, No Future (2010) Cormorant Books ISBN: 9781897151761
Lynne, Elizabeth & Goldsmith, Stephen (eds) What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs (2010) New Village Press ISBN: 978098155935
Stige, Brynjulf, Ansdell, Gary & Pavlicevic, Mercédès Where Music Helps: Community Music Therapy in Action and Reflection (2010) Ashgate ISBN: 9781409410102
Greg Baeker is a very active Canadian cultural policy consultant who‘s done a heap of work with local governments. Among the contributors is Colin Mercer, well known to many Australians from his time as Director of the Institute for Cultural Policy Studies (1987-95)
I wrote about Simon Brault when he published this book in French. Now the English version is out and, given his focus on the importance of amateur arts-making, I hope it/he will inspire some rethinking of where the emphasis should be in the public support of arts activities.
Jane Jacobs was one of the great understanders of urban neighbourhoods. Her 1961 classic, The Death and Life of Great American Cities was, and continues to be, an inspiration to grassroots activists and progressive planners. It’s great to know that her approach is influencing the thinking of new generations. Among the contributors is Arlene Goldbard, a passionate articulator of the need for local engagement.
I had the privilege of partnering with Brynjulf Stige on a community music symposium a couple of years ago and was very impressed. He is, along with the other two authors, one of the key advocates for what they call community music therapy, which socialises processes that have traditionally been private and individual.