New strategy of urban social cohesion by promoting creative activities in urban districts through a network of 11 Art Factories.
Art Factories respond to two main drivers: 1.the aim expressed by cultural and creative agents in the city to profit from a stable framework to develop their activities in connection with new actors and 2.the political strategy to set up in specific industrial districts creative radiators to enhance social cohesion and to develop citizens' cooperation networks. Art Factories provide the opportunity to develop, share and exhibit projects to the public, fostering their entry into the artistic road show at national and international level. Apart from being a practice that clearly gives support to the CCI beyond the commercial pressure, Art Factories succeed in promoting a deep interaction within the district by bringing new ideas, projects and talent together.
The network is formed by 11 sites, basically old industrial heritage buildings, located in specific Barcelona neighbourhoods and specialised in different artistic fields (audio-visual, theatre, dance and body movement arts, multidisciplinary artistic production…). Each factory is managed by a private entity historically relevant in a specific field of the artistic activity. Only one is managed directly by Cultural Institute of Barcelona (ICUB). ICUB is the main stakeholder, the owner of the buildings and the provider of the initial starting up budget to each of the factories. The main beneficiaries are the artists, the complementary agents and the local citizens that are profiting from this close interaction.

Resources needed

The ICUB budget to guarantee the basic operational resources to the Art Factories has reached 2M EUR in 2017. Each factory funding is adapted to their specific needs. Additional budget should be raised by the managing entities either from tickets, private patrons or other public institutions.

Evidence of success

Art Factories have filled empty industrial buildings with new content that were at risk of deterioration or demolition. More than 24 M EUR have been invested in refurbishing these buildings. In 2017 the network has hosted nearly 583 artistic projects (385 in residence, 50 from other countries); developed 170 training activities for professionals, with more than 1945 trainees; 400 activities have been disseminated to a broad audience contributing to the creation of a cultural interaction system.

Difficulties encountered

Establish a common model of governance. Define quantitative and qualitative indicators, and a framework/map of relationships and resources for all creators and companies in the city to evaluate the work and impact of the factories. Design criteria to guide the expansion of the factories system.

Potential for learning or transfer

The refurbishing of old buildings in disuse to the promotion of creativity and innovation hubs is a common policy in Europe.
The network of Art Factories goes beyond the already remarkable fact of welcoming creativity and transferring it to society. Indeed, the most remarkable feature of the Art Factories has been the development of a management scheme that can be generically applied to the whole network despite the differences in architectural spaces, cultural and artistic activities and the diversity of management systems in each of the factories.
From the transferability point of view, the Art Factories network can provide accumulative experience on the definition of the management model, the specific financing scheme for each of its elements, as for the criteria used to expand this network beyond the current limits, being this expansion made either under de direct control of the public sector or, alternatively, finding the right partners in the private sector.

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Main institution
Cultural Institute of Barcelona (ICUB). Barcelona City Council
Cataluña, Spain (España)
Start Date
January 2008
End Date


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