Tools & Methods

What Cultural Planning is about?

Cultural planing is about increasing participation
in cities and countering:

Differences in status: Elite residential aras, slums, suburbs etc. (Peter Marcuse, 2002)

Cultural divisions: parts of cities idenitifes by ethnic. language, national descent or style

Divisions by functional role: residential areas, industrial arfeas or for specific trades

The cultural planning approach is closely linked
to a number of key elements:

  • Using the neighborhood (physical/infrastructure) and the community (human/cultural) as a human framework for strategic change – this approach covers both the aspect of engagement, of resources, of identity and of sharing responsibility and ownership of the program.
  • Using the enabling capacity of cultural processes, creative industries and of cultural magnates and attractions to form and boost the identity of communities and to communicate a process of change which can engage the larger community.
  • Using arts and culture to stimulate innovation and to engage communities with creative processes and thus generating social innovation and using co-creation and knowledge exchange.
  • Interpreting the need to create sustainable cities as something that needs to be based on a culture of sharing resources, skill-sharing, sharing of visions and sharing of environment and urban infrastructure.

Cultural Mapping (CM)

The role and methodology of CM and individual mapping formats with stakeholders/artists and community to create a common knowledge platform covering character, identity, resources of the neighborhood/town.


Creating a common platform and process to imagine future state of society/neighborhood and to explore possibilities of change through artistic, gaming, digital tools.


The formation of open inclusive design and co-creative processes to design concrete projects with specific user groups/neighborhood groups e.g. children/youths, examples of organizing projects / programs for culturally driven change.

Implementing and Managing

The on-going process of sustaining and connecting with the community and city/stakeholders and external partners and the (self)management of complex projects with multiple stakeholders.

Anchoring / Diffusion / Learning strategy

Sustainability (social, urban, resources) as the key to securing a long term ‘legacy’ and integrating the project into strategic programs of the city / region business models. How to ensure dissemination and learning of cultural planning?

Cultural mapping

  • Mapping is a methodology for interpreting the city through the lenses of the collective. It gives you 360 degree view on how the place works, what is its unique DNA. It helps to identify local resources, challenges and locating creative potential blockages for changes.
  • To map the local DNA cultural planning uses sets of collective workshops, exercises an on-site observation and surveys. I focuses on aspects of: place, people, economy, institutions and organisations.
  • It’s “about what already is happening” underneath the surface rather than “what needs to happen”. In cultural planning it brings fresh perspectives and new stakeholders to the process, providing non-hierarchical way to share what should change in the place and connecting it to the strategic planning.

Evaluation as a learning process.

In cultural planning self-evaluation of local projects can generate adaptations and improvement in the processes. We always learn from our mistakes and successes and evaluation is simply a method of doing it systematically in a way that can be useful to other.

Though for many of projects funded from public resources it is obligatory and can be seen by the team as unpleasant duty, it brings much more to the know-how when it is designed and analysed individually to the specificity of our actions.

There are different types of evaluation and methods that can be used in the process. Initial evaluation helps to diagnose the situation and develop adequate goals. Process monitoring during ongoing projects allows for performance evaluation and modification.

The impact and summary evaluation is there to check if we have met our initial goals and how it affected stakeholders - in case of cultural planning: residents of the neighbourhood, local activist groups, official decisionmakers and the place itself. To reach more relevant results and build stronger involvement the participatory evaluation method includes from the beginning all groups of interest.

Partners, participants and local agents together decide what are the goals of the project, how the impact should be measured and take part in the assessment of the outcomes.

Look for specific methods, tools and case studies used in cultural planning projects in Baltic Sea Region in our Toolkit and find something suitable to your situation.

Creative Residencies

The UrbCulturalPlanning Residency programme was organised to add an external view on the potential of the neighbourhoods. The residencies were designed to foster creativity and experimentation in the cultural mapping and participatory collaborations.


To add value to the community with creative work by helping to change the perception and profile of the host community for both its residents and outsiders.

To create shared Baltic Sea Region value and identity, making a direct dialogue between community residents and creative short-terms visitors possible,

To contribute to the development of Local Demonstrator Projects to test cultural planning methods. Read more...

Care for your square!

By looking at urban squares, we are able to construct a narrative about the entire city – not just in spatial categories, but we can also find out more about the urban ‘software’, above all the social life of its inhabitants.

For us, squares have become the ‘keystones of urbanity’ that bind the urban structure together, but can also act as spaces of concentration and exchange of information, matter and citizen energy.

Squares have a greater evolutionary dynamics than buildings – they can react faster to changing needs, trends and accelerated urban lifestyles, including, among others, changes in ways of working, mobility and identity.


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