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Culture and Museums in the Winds of Change: The Need for Cultural Indicators

A recent and fascinating conversation with our member Douglas Worts* reminded me how important his contribution is to the world of museums. So I wanted to share with our members and our readers some of his contributions, starting with this exciting article where the road to a different sustainability for museums is clearly shown.

Culture and Museums in the Winds of Change: The Need for Cultural Indicators

Abstract: How individuals live their lives, within the context of personal and collective values, expresses their living culture. Societies may be made up of people with different ethnocultural backgrounds, socio-economic profiles or spiritual orientations, but they share certain common cultural frameworks (e.g., democratic governance, rules of law, conventions of business, principles of equity for all, etc.) of what is increasingly a globalized, pluralized, and urbanized present. Culture is often thought of as either the historical traditions of a group, or else as certain types of activities (e.g., dance, theatre, celebrations, rituals, etc.) and objects (e.g., art, artifacts, clothing, etc.). Meanwhile, cultural organizations are characterized as specialized places of expertise that provide selected kinds of experiences and services to the public – normally available for consumption during leisure time. This article argues that the heart of living culture is to be found not in specialized types of objects, leisure-time experiences, ethnocultural traditions, or cultural organizations but, rather, in its processes of human adaptation in a changing world. The author uses the lens of culture to examine how humanity understands and attempts to manage change within its sphere of influence. How can we best measure the cultural well-being of our societies, our organizations, and ourselves? The overarching notion of global/local sustainability provides the grounding point for considering how best to foster a ̳culture of sustainability‘.

Keywords: Museums, cultural well-being, culture and sustainability, adaptive renewal, cultural indicators

You can read and download the full article here.

Douglas Worts

*Douglas Worts (pronounced Werts) is a culture & sustainability specialist, with WorldViews Consulting, a Canadian consulting firm, and an Associate of The AtKisson Group, which is a global network of sustainability planners, educators and consultants.

He holds a specialist degree in History of Art (University of Toronto) and a Masters Degree in Museum Studies (University of Toronto).

For over 30 years, he has worked in and around museums (Art Gallery of Ontario – 25 years) – specializing in experimental exhibit design, education programming, community engagement and audience research, where he explored the potential of artworks and heritage materials to stimulate viewer creativity and ‘meaning-making’. He has spoken and published widely, including activities in North America, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand on a range of museum, culture and sustainability-based topics. In 1997, Douglas was invited to join Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD International), which is a global, cross-disciplinary network of over 2500 professionals from more than 80 countries, who have been trained in and promote local/global sustainability. Douglas’ particular focus these days revolves around the belief that, regardless of technological innovation, new economic policy and governance frameworks, human beings will only achieve a sustainable future if there are foundational shifts at the cultural level. This is no mean feat given the impacts of globalization, pluralization and urbanization on all cultures. However, there is great potential for artists and organizations within the cultural sector to stretch beyond the leisure-time economy and become significant players in stimulating deep reflection, dialogue and action related to fostering a ‘culture of sustainability’ across all sectors of our society. Critical to achieving this will be the development and use of cultural ‘measures of success’ that provide meaningful and effective feedback loops to ensure the work of artists and arts organizations are directed at individual and societal leverage points that produce greater public awareness and engagement.

Douglas lives in downtown Toronto.

Personal Website: http://douglasworts.org

Business website: http://worldviewsconsulting.org

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  1. […] numériques. Communauté. Stratégie digitale. Culture and Museums in the Winds of Change: The Need for Cultural Indicators. A recent and fascinating conversation with our member Douglas Worts* reminded me how important his […]

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