New perspectives on location

When film is admitted into urban spaces

A vibrant city should provide space(s) for impressions and expression, for activity and tranquillity, community and solitude, beauty and crudeness, sounds, noise and silence—space for life, in short. The pilot studies conducted by Smart Kreativ Stad clearly demonstrate that locations are activated when film is admitted into urban spaces—and that this makes a difference for the people there. Moving images in urban spaces help to revitalize neighborhoods, generate memories and stories, broaden perspectives and bolster community. It is also a matter of safeguarding the identity and soul of a place.

“Capture the soul of the city and enrich it. This is how to make a city attractive—and ready for the future.”

Mia Wahlström, Doctor of Technology in Social Planning and Consultant at Tyréns, is a researcher in the souls of cities and what makes a city attractive.

“If we are to enrich the soul of a city, we must uncover its stories through symbols and art, for example. It might be a wonderful place, full of soul and teeming with stories; but if no one knows of them, the location has little value. This is why we must let the stories come to light! It will be exciting to see how film and moving images can shape and highlight the souls of cities.”

Reflections from the Ongoing Evaluator on conversation 1:
New perspectives on location


Smart Kreativ Stad aims at investigating how film and moving images can promote a city more attractive to live in, to work in and to visit. Under the theme All the City’s a Stage—Activating Places and Building Communities, a conversation was organized about what happens when film is moved out of traditional venues and into the public space. From the viewpoints of the participants, the following was discussed:

• New screening venues and arenas for film and moving images, but also the means by which we can view existing screening venues with fresh eyes.
• The importance of seeing a city as mutable—or understood as temporary.

Participants in the conversation on 10 December 2019:
Anna-Karin Larsson Executive Director, Filmform
Jennifer Norström Project Manager, Smart Kreativ Stad
Mats Hederos CEO, AMF Fastigheter
Paul Philip Abrigo Political Advisor, Stockholm Municipality
Simon Strömberg Operations Development Manager, Swedish Arts Council
Thomas Borén Associate Professor in Human Geography, Stockholm University
Veronica Hejdelind Operations Manager, Birthe & Per Arwidsson’s Foundation

Moderator: Beata Mannheimer
Introduction: Annika Wik

Expectations around the table
The group, with representatives from various fields, appears to be in positive agreement on being invited to a conversation dedicated to film and moving image in the urban space, and in supporting film as cultural expression and activity to gain admission to that space. Curiosity surrounding the potential contribution of film was great. The participants came to listen, but also expecting to network and collaborate.

The creative policy gap
The level of interest was clearly keen, since the issue What must be done? was framed immediately. What is needed? How do we activate the city, our spaces? What can the city do to make this possible? Right away, these questions were laid on the table. Several participants brought up examples of how they work with the interplay of culture and industry. A clear interest was expressed for cultural input in construction processes. There were, however, also examples of the complications involved. The concept the creative policy gap, borrowed from human geography, was introduced to describe the gap between the creative classes and positions of political power in the city regarding the understanding of culture and its uses.

Film as a source of local identity
During the conversation, the question of the role of film and moving image in our shared spaces was discussed. Marketing and profiling aspects were mentioned, along with film as a source of local identity. The importance of developing methods for co-creation and participation is emphasized as crucial in achieving values ​​that strengthen democracy. Several participants highlighted the ability of film, through its low threshold, to reach a wide audience among residents. In this way, film can function as a force for many different purposes—social encounters, shared experiences, recognition, inclusion and personal creation and screening.

Temporary and permanent
A notion regarding public art is that it is permanently installed. The major rethinking that has occurred in this area is addressed in the conversation. Instead we now we refer to the tension between the temporary and the permanent, as reflected in film as art form.

Urban interstices
The conversation provided many examples of the problems in matching property owners and public spaces with those who need these locations to make their cultural presence known. There was a call for greater insight and understanding of how a short-term lease could make a huge difference, of how a low-use space could be activated relatively cheaply and experienced more positively by residents. The provision of financial resources and concessions was called for, as well as also insight, dialogue, knowledge—and closer collaboration.

Social sustainability
The importance of social sustainability for the city’s residents and visitors and a sustainable work situation for the creative class were the two aspects regarding sustainability that were most prominent in the conversation. A third aspect was concerned with the high-priority goals of property owners to create safe, secure environments and the role that culture might play in this through, e.g. lighting, social events and public art.