Malaga’s art distrct SOHO is an initiative to transform an area of Malaga’s urban development into thematic ; based on culture, arts and commerce. By referencing it to the internationally know concept of ‘SOHO’ neighbourhoods , as the ones existing in London and Manhattan; the proposal tries to revitalize the area by offering locals and visitants a different cultural, leisure, commercial and business experience.
It’s thought for the neighbourhood called ‘Ensanche de Heredia’ between the city centre and the sea, about 160000 sqm. This area was the perfect location because it already had some cultural focus working like a theatre (Teatro Alameda, 579 seats) ,the contemporary art centre and a range of businesses related to creativity and arts.
In order to promote the transformation of the area there where two main strategies developed at the same time: a cultural calendar of activities and an urban restoration plan; both developed following citizen participation processes.
The project is economically supported between Malaga’s city council and an European funds.
The area is a field won to the sea during XIX century in order to expand the harbour. The It is completely flat and defined by its strong axes of the city of Malaga. It limitates west with the river Guadalmedina , north with the historical part of the city and the city center, south with an important traffic axe , the Manuel agustin Heredia Avenue; and east with the park of Malaga.
This triangled area with the whole eastern park is defined as the ‘ central development’ by the city council planning and in there live 2500 people.
It was the neighbours and commerce owner’s idea to create a cultural neighbourhood in order to reactivate the area and improve its image. The first association of the area was called ‘Emergency exit’ and claim to be the first to develop the same idea. One of the participants of this association quitted and funded SOHO association, with similar principles and collaborated with the city council of Malaga to develop the project brief that was finally presented to to citizenship at 2010.
Over the years this district went to a regressive state while all attentions where set on upgrading the historical centre and harbour. And where previously the Palace of Justice provided legal consultancy businesses with a steady economic flow, after its removal from the area towards the outskirts of the city, local business owners and inhabitants feared the possibility of drowning the commercial activities and after the life of the neighbourhood.
The city council: as stakeholder of the project.
European funds: FEDER, considering andalucia’s regions ‘in transition of development’, that means that they have between 75 and 90% of the European average of PIB per capita
The existing cultural focus: CAC and Teatro alameda (579 seats)
Local artists: ‘emergency exit ‘ artists and neighbour association.
International artists: Invited as an strategy of the programme , and paid with the European funds.
Commercial space and housing owners of the area: Spaces available in the nieeghbourhood, most of them commercial space abandoned.
1.Management: the idea was first proposed by the neighbours associations, so its relevant not to lose the citizen participation in the process.
The management of the project lies in two groups of people:
The neighbours assembly: The citizen participation is kept and its responsibility is to inform , advice and propose in order to motivate and improve the proposal.
A technical professionals committee: Technical and business experts from the city council and also neighbours and business owners that organise themselves in groups to analyse, debate and study the proposals to the area. The first groups thought were the ones related to the main strategies of the project: Technical management, Urban planning, Cultural management and communication and business establishment.
Also the city council said that other management sources would be used to promote the SOHO idea like accelerating some management processes to open new business or advantage and economical support for those activities and businesses with strong relationship with arts and culture.
2.Marketing: The aim of the marketing process is to position the brand ‘SOHO Malaga’ and the neighbourhood in its business area and in front of its potential clients, through the right physical supports and social media.
The brand: The concept of the area, sold as a brand and its spirit is the main strategic instrument.
September 2011: The logo of the campaign is decided in a citizen contest.
The winner was a drawing based on the urban pattern of the area.
Also the first advertising campaign is released: ‘In its inhabitants hearts beats SOHO’
Social media marketing: These marketing actions are focused on the target client of the proposal; seasoning population, tourist ant visitants of the historical part. Its main points are a website ,with a map that localtes the cultural and commercial offer, and the creation of official profiles in the main social networks.
Oficial video presentación: http://vimeo.com/78836635#
Cultural management: At the same time of the communication tasks a cultural programme is managed both attractive for the inhabitant and the visitant. It’s the cultural program the one that gives sense to the whole proposal.
Formerly in the western part of the area was the CAC (Centro de arte contemporáneo) and a theatre . The proposal tries to promote the existing cultural offer and develop new actions and activities in order to build a cultural agenda with strength and personality.
Inside the new proposal , the most controversial part has been MAUS ( Malaga arte urbano en el soho).Many local urban artist were hired to paint the streets of soho , as small scale interventions, but in Octuber 2013 two international artist were hired to pain two parallen limit walls of the two tallest building of the area.
There was established a urban-commercial programme that focus on making the urban patter more useful and with a better ambient. Some streets were half-peatonaliced. The plan was written in 2010 but the restorations have started in 2013.
4.Creation of a ‘Bank of new business ideas and trends’:
The search of new kinds of business , non convencional ones that may have the possibility to bring its own clients to the area. These new ideas can be also an atractor to young enterprisers. It’s important to point out that this bank tries to orientate youngsters towards which business concepts are desirable to stablish and consolidate the SOHO idea. There is a list of 19 ‘desirable business areas’ where to start from zero, with suggestions
Success and failures
- Since the redaction on the Project , there have grown new commerce actually related to culture : An architectural office, Art-cultural hostel in 2011,the Feel-hostel and Feel Jazz club and there will open a cooking school and a design workshop.
- Distance between city council and citizens. The citizens were the origin of the project, but it didn’t really involved their participation in the process. Despite quiting , the have been working separately of the city council. The proof, there are to facebook profiles working online , and the non oficial has more followers.
- Absolut dependance from the European funds; there was not a thought given about using self-maintenance or other economic support strategies. Nowadays the European fund money it’s over and the project has not a closer future development. Some activities are being cancelled.
SOHO project brief: http://sohomlg.com/docs/Sintesis%20Soho_baja.pdf