Culture and arts supporting social cohesion in Latin American cities.

In a context of rapid and unplanned urban growth of the Latin American cities leading to widespread social inequality, violence, environmental damage, lack of involvement and identification of citizens with their city, Interarts and BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels) has initiated this project which seeks to explore, through concrete proposal and from a cultural perspective, the possibilities to contribute to achieve more open, tolerant, sustainable and safe cities. Both organisations base the project on the premise that the cultural factor has been recognised by the international community as a key element in sustainable planning and urban development. The present project responds to the invitation to take part in the restrictive tender procedure issued by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, Latin America and Caribbean, Regional Programmes for Latin America and the Caribbean (Unit G2) of the European Commission, for the service contract “Culture and Arts supporting social cohesion in Latin American cities” in the framework of the Financing Decision “Support measures for Latin America regional activities”.

Three main activities are carried out as part of the project. The first was the ‘Art and Culture for Inclusive Cities in Latin America and Europe’ seminar in June 2016 at the Bozar headquarters (Brussels, Belgium). It brought together 20+ researchers, cultural managers, cultural managers and architects from Latin America and Europe who drew comparisons between contexts and highlighted today’s challenges linked to cities, cultural cooperation and identifying best practices in the two continents. The central topic was the role that culture and artistic practices have in promoting social cohesion, inclusive urban development, community work, citizen empowerment, cultural policies and development programs in Latin America and Europe alike. Following the seminar an open public debate on the same topic was held.

The UrbanLab workshop, the second of the programmed activities, was held in November 2016 in Medellín, Colombia. Five artistic and/or cultural organisations from as many Latin American cities took part in this collaborative space: Colectivo LAAL vaca (Puebla, Mexico); The Fire Theory (San Salvador, El Salvador); Colectivo La Ciudad Verde (Green City Collective) (Medellin, Colombia); Escuelab (Lima, Peru), and Centro BijaRi (Curitiba, Brazil). They worked on creative urban development proposals related to the five nodes previously defined, which were developed around the following topics: memory, education, mobility, violence, and resilience and sustainability. Each node also involved other artists and cultural operators in other Latin American and European countries. The initiatives linked to the LAIC began to develop during UrbanLab and the outcome was put together in a public exhibition on the last day of the workshop, at the Cultural Centre of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Antioquia, one of the workshop organisation partners.

Following the Medellin workshop, the projects continue to develop over the coming months in the various cities involved, coordinated by each of the respective nodes, until they are completed and officially presented at Bozar (Brussels, Belgium) in an exhibition comprising the third LAIC activity that marks the project closure in May 2017.

On February 2017 a partners meeting was held in Brussels, Belgium, to agree on matters (set design, production, budget) relating to the final exhibition.

Start date

20 January 2016


  • To promote and strengthen through concrete proposals the role of arts and culture as drivers for inclusive and sustainable urban development in Latin America.
  • To facilitate exchanges and joint actions between the EU and Latin America to better integrate cultural policies and initiatives in urban development strategies, building on successful projects supporting social cohesion.


  • Awareness-raising on the role of cultural policies and programmes and art practices in addressing the needs of people who are socially excluded in urban contexts.
  • Enhance exchanges between actors of the cultural and social sectors of Latin America and the EU and create opportunities for Latin American artists and creators, especially from the poorest urban neighbourhoods, to work on cultural initiatives with the EU partners.
  • Design and organize arts and culture events to showcase successful artworks and cultural initiatives supporting social cohesion and fostering participation of the population, especially young people, from disadvantaged urban areas in Latin America.
  • Design and implement a communication strategy and plan to possibly enlarge the action for further enhancement of the role of culture in strengthening social cohesion in LA cities and disseminate activities and achievements of the project both in Latin America and the EU.

LAIC website