Art & Culture Could Help Build Liveable Smart Cities
2017 is quite promising for the real estate sector. RERA, GST Bill, Benami Transaction Bill and demonetisation will bring more transparency within the real estate sector. Amongst all the developments, the most popular term of 2016 was Smart Cities Mission. This initiative will ensure that the cities included in the list will enjoy better infrastructure, boast excellent means of transportation, efficient waste management system, adequate water and electrical supply and Wi-Fi enabled services. So, do these smart cities have any place for art, culture and performing arts?
Perhaps art and culture have been a neglected territory altogether. However, there is enough reason to believe that a locality that demarcates space for leisure, art and culture is often on the priority list of a potential homebuyer or prospective tenant. It makes a given locality more liveable, likeable and whole. It is also a time when words such as “creative economy” and “cultural economy” have become a common term amongst the developers and municipal bodies of India. In fact, theme based projects and leisure space within projects are a new way to cater to the buying class. However, why should such facilities be targeted at the rich and the wealthy?
This question is answered by a report titled Creative Arts in India by Ernst and Young-FICCI. The report said that the presence of creative groups that are unique and defines the character of the smart cities. FICCI report dated December 2016 stated that “Creative clusters can create a critical mass of activities available 24/7, such as art and craft galleries, public squares for theatre and dance performances, cinemas and music venues, among others to showcase and leverage the city's culture.”
It goes on to say, “Cultural districts may also combine specific visitor services (boutique hotels and locally sourced restaurants) or include venues (performing arts and convention centres, in particular) as a way to attract key groups to the area. The availability of cultural districts may also facilitate a convention, business meeting, a group tour, or special event to be hosted in a destination due to the creative environment.”
Moreover, the setting up of cultural and art institutions within the smart cities will further improve the liveability score of the city. People would love to live in areas wherein there are cultural programs, opportunities for kids to feed their creative instincts and seniors have good entertainment options that can help them to put their time to good use. The demand for housing in such cities will increase as many people would prefer such cities as cultural activities would create a positive impact.
For example, life is full of entertainment in artistically inclined areas such as Mandi House, Delhi. Mandi House is known as the cultural hub of Delhi wherein one would find painting exhibitions, groups performing classical music and many theatre groups that come up with entertaining shows. It is a go-to place for art lovers. It is very popular amongst tourist groups who are interested in exploring Indian culture. This creates a positive impact on the demand for hotels and restaurants. Hence, commercial real estate too stands a good chance if Smart Cities focus on such growth.
It is a well-known fact that most artists often have to move to less developed areas of the cities as they cannot afford to purchase apartments in central parts of a city. Moreover, prime locations usually are very crowded and offer little or no opportunity for art to thrive. The locations and sets are expensive and it is mostly the established group of artists who can afford the cost. Moving to the suburbs means there is a better chance to help developing localities to gain traction. More theatre and cultural groups come up as the number of artists grow in a particular locality. This converts a less-desirable city or area into a preferred one.
In the hustle bustle of smart cities, it is essential that such cultural places should come up. Residents Welfare Association should also take step in this direction. It should be ensured that such cultural centres are well-scattered in the city. Another thing that needs to be considered is that all these facilities should be accessible to all. It shouldn't be too expensive for a common man to afford. The Ernst and Young-FICCI report said that the involvement of the private sector would help in creating smart cities with such creative cultural groups. Encouragement should be given to find economically sound ideas that will aim to create better infrastructure in the smart cities.