From March to July 2019, we held seven cultural mapping events inviting people from the cultural sector to offer their perspective on the city’s cultural assets – the places they value and consider vital community hubs. We hosted three organised workshops and also brought print-outs of an ‘itinerant map’ to four community events. While the interaction with the map was the same at all events, the three workshops also included exercises asking participants to reflect on cultural production and community participation. Participants contributed a total of 211 cultural assets during workshops and itinerant mapping events. We added another 453 assets based on categories that participants suggested. The map went from 95 to 759 spaces after the seven cultural mapping events.
The base map was the principal foundation of the cultural mapping process. The project’s research fellow, Melisa Miranda, designed the base map in QGIS, starting with cartographic data of 95 cultural assets. The City of Edinburgh Council provided data on community centres, libraries and schools, while we scraped data from Google maps on museums, main galleries, theatres, and music venues. Originally the map was at a scale of 1:15.000, but later the scale increased to approximately 1:10.000 in order to include more places.
The map for the workshops was printed on paper and placed on tables; groups from 5 to 8 people gathered around it and marked it with colour stickers and pens. For the itinerant version of the map, which we brought to community events, we used a cardboard surface to place the map vertically and asked people to follow a set of printed instructions about how to interact with it using coloured pins and pens; people could come and go, participating with the itinerant map for as long as they wanted.
The map developed dynamically, since with each event we collected more data, which was included in the next event’s map version.
1. Place yourself on the map. Use a black pin for home and a white pin for the place where you spend most time rehearsing and/or working for your cultural sector. (The facilitator will add a correlative number to identify both places identifying the same participant and the organisation is representing)
2. Can you identify important places for performance/making/digital production missing on the map with yellow pin. (The facilitator was taking notes on the place and why is valuable)
3. Which are the most significant and/or indispensable organisations/places/infrastructures for your cultural sector (blue)?
4. Can you identify with a red pin where cultural infrastructure no longer existing in the city and/or any other obstacle for your cultural production?
5. Does your organisation is related with any community within the outskirts of Edinburgh and/or deprived communities? If so, could you please locate them with a green pin. (The facilitator was taking notes on the community and the institution/organisation that works with them)
Questions for further discussion
Finally, the group should discuss the following topics:
1. If a hub is defined as a place that gives opportunities to all kinds of artists (performers, digital producers and fine artists/craftspeople) and is publicly accessible, can the group list 3?
2. Do you face challenges reaching deprived and underrepresented communities? If so, how? Write your answers down on a post-it.
3. Open discussion: How could this map be of most use to you? People can write down as many ideas as they want on post-its
Activities and events chronogram
- 25th January 2019 – Meeting at University of Edinburgh with institutions and managers
- 25th February 2019 – Itinerant map Performance group – Articulation (National Level)
- 19th March 2019 – Itinerant Map Creative Edinburgh – Creative circles
- 23th April 2019 – Community Mapping Workshop 1 at Storytelling centre
- 16th May 2019 – Itinerant map at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (hosted by Creative Informatics)
- 3rd June 2019 – Community Mapping Workshop 2 at Out of the Blue Drill Hall
- 13th June 2019 – Community Mapping Workshop 3 at WHALE Art Centre
- 2nd July 2019 – Itinerant Map at North Edinburgh Art
Cultural mapping data collection and preliminary outcomes
The exercise started with 95 assets from data scraping and available data from the Council (libraries, community centres, schools) and finished with 759 assets and 14 categories. Table 1 shows how our data changed from May to July 2019. Table 2 highlights how some categories remained fixed, such as museums, libraries and schools, but other categories, especially making, digital and performance, grew with each event.
These tables describe a dynamic process that reflects the input and values of 125 people over a six-month period in 2019, plus additions we’ve made to the map in reaction to these events.
The mapping process will continue with the digital map, as new places are incorporated thru community suggestions or are removed if they close.
Table 1: Categories & cultural assets. This table shows how data increased from the first event until the last one to date in July 2019.
Table 2: Categories used for the participatory process
Below are some preliminary analysis:
1. Cultural Assets Against SIMD 2016
As can be evidenced on the map below, most of the cultural assets are located in the city centre. Against the 2016 SIMD (Scottish Index of multiple deprivation) the localisation pattern tends to show a lower density of cultural assets in some deprived areas, particularly in the south.
2. Most Valued Spaces
Places participants considered most valuable:
- North Edinburgh Arts
- Custom Lane
- Scottish National Gallery of Art
- The Meadows
- Traverse Theatre
- Tollcross Community Centre
- Dance Base
- Code Base
- Storytelling Centre
- Fruitmarket Gallery
- Royal Botanical Gardens
- Assembly Row
- Leith Depot
- The Lyceum
3. Spaces at Risk
Participants identified 23 places as at risk. The most mentioned were Leith Depot, Edinburgh Pallete at St Margarette’s house and Tollcross Community Centre ALP.
Other places were DOK Artists Space, Dr. Bells, Rhubaba, Old Royal High School, Travelling Gallery (which is out of funds this year), Old Tolbooth, St Catharine’s Mercy Centre, Ward School of Irish Dance, Tollcross Community Centre ALP, Cameo Picturehouse, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh Printmakers Gallery, Workshops and artist’s studio provision, Dominion Cinema, Open Air theatre in Braidburn Valley Park, Inch Community Education Centre and Moredun Gilmerton. Summerhall was also mentioned, and, due to the COVID crisis, it was facing lack of funds that threatened its reopening.
Most places are struggling with funding schemes, but also the development sector puts pressure on some spaces, such as Leith Depot, which has a strong community presence but has struggled to protect itself from threat of new student accommodation construction. Big companies are also buying places, such as Roxy, and new administrators of these spaces are not as grassroots as before, nor giving opportunities to emerging artists and musicians as in the past.
Ongoing Data Collection and Results
The researchers gathered more data between January and May 2020, just as the Covid-19 crisis hit. The purpose was to complete the map as much as possible based on the participatory events and suggestions by stakeholders. Council feedback was essential, as they provided information about funded organisations with outreach in the city. This round of data collection added to existing categories, such as including private schools and alternative education centres and a deeper data-scrape of worship places and community organisations. We included more black and ethnic minority spaces based on the EVOC Red Book and a Council-created dataset of BAME cultural spaces. This new category was essential, as accessibility, inclusion and equity continue to be a focus of this project’s research. We also added our first historic dataset of cultural spaces linked to Edinburgh’s slave-owning past, now visible thru the ‘Edinburgh & slavery’ data layer.
The city centre still concentrates the major density of cultural spaces, while many areas of deprivation remain sparse. The table and the map below describe the comparation between the two phases of data collection as of June 2020.
|Ward||Cultural spaces by Ward 2019||Cultural spaces by Ward 2020|