Urban implications of cultural policy networks: the case of the Mount Vernon Cultural District in Baltimore
The intersection of urban and cultural policies has recently been at the center of international debate. The cultural planning approach argued that cultural policies can generally display positive effects in contemporary cities. The economic literature put forth spatial organization models of cultural institutions and producers, sometimes confirming policy makers’ expectations. Concerning the urban implications of cultural policies, many authors tended to be more skeptical and made several critical observations that can be better disclosed by analyzing cultural networks in urban policy making. Drawing on an extended case of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon Cultural District, I show that these critical factors are relevant but not determinant since they do not explain how and why cultural policy networks intervene in urban policy making. The analysis of Mount Vernon showed how a self-interested network promoted revitalization by framing a specific area as a ‘common campus’ and by integrating public, private, and nonprofit on this spatial basis. I suggest considering the implications of cultural networks in further urban research and policy making.
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