Mark J. Stern

Mark J. Stern

Mark J. Stern

Philadelphia, PA

Presenting as a part of the session: Cultural Cities - Friday, November 5 at 11:00 am

Mark J. Stern is Professor of Social Welfare and History and Co-Director of the Urban Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught since 1980.  He holds a master's degree in history from the University of Toronto and a PhD in history from York University (Canada). He has authored or co-authored five books, including One Nation Divisible: What America Was and What It Is Becoming (with Michael B. Katz, Russell Sage Foundation Press, 2006).

Since 1994, Stern has been principal investigator for the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP), a research program of Penn's School of Social Policy and Practice.  SIAP has focused on developing methods for measuring the ways that the arts and cultural engagement influence urban communities and applying those methods to studies of metropolitan Philadelphia. Recent reports by SIAP include "Cultivating 'Natural' Cultural Districts," "From Creative Economy to Creative Society," and "Migrants, Communities, and Culture," all co-authored with Susan Seifert.  In 2010, Stern completed a monograph, "Demographic Destiny? Age and Arts Participation since 1982" for the National Endowment for the Arts.

Description of Mark J. Stern's talk:

“Natural” cultural districts and urban cultural planning

This paper discusses the concept of “natural” cultural district—the unplanned concentration of cultural assets in particular neighborhoods—and its implications for urban policy and planning.  Using Philadelphia as a case study, the paper examines how four types of cultural assets—nonprofit cultural organization, commercial cultural firms, cultural participants, and resident artists—concentrate in a set of neighborhoods.  It then analyzes some of the social and economic consequences of this agglomeration, including impacts on indexes of children’s well-being and measures of ethnic and racial harassment.  Finally, the paper proposed a typology of “natural” cultural districts and examines the types of policy and planning interventions that are appropriate for each.

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