Branding Culture

The idea that one city can have more culture oozing from it's Central Park than anywhere else has been fueling genteel conversation and tourist spin for centuries, if not millennia. But what is the substantive value in a cultural 'capital'? Does it transcend mere tourist dollar?
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An undergraduate program advertised by the Loyola University Chicago maintains, “All roads continue to lead to Rome as the center of culture…” whilst a culture guide posted at LastMinute.com claims, “Athens probably has the most long-standing and impressive cultural heritage of any city in Europe. However,” shrieks the guide, “this pedigree is not confined to past greatness – a continued enthusiasm for the arts is expressed annually at the Athens Festival.”

Actually, the LastMinute.com guide is shrewder than first appearances might suggest. For it is festivals and other significant and apparently necessarily exuberant ‘cultural events’ – like displays of public art designed for giants, or equally large and expensive touring exhibitions and performances – that seem to form the bedrock of any modern citadels’ claim to be a centre for cultural goings on.

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Craig Scutt
About the Author
Craig Scutt is a freelance author, journalist, and writer.