11 Jan 2015: Cultural Mapping guide and resource kit

Designed for individuals & organisations interested in innovative and challenging methods of community-based arts and culture education, and understanding the history of places, communities and their continuity.

cultural mappingCultural mapping is probably an unfamiliar term for those not actively involved in urban and suburban heritage preservation. In a nutshell, ‘cultural mapping’ refers to activities designed to safeguard cultural diversity using a wide range of research techniques and tools to “map” tangible and intangible cultural assets within local landscapes. It also refers to tasks carried out to identify, describe, portray, promote, and plan future use of particular regions’ or cities’ combined cultural assets and resources.

The first step towards organising a successful cultural mapping program entails a thorough understanding of the assignments ahead. A recently published manual, Cultural Mapping: A Guide to Understanding Place, Community and Continuity serves as an easy-to-follow guide on the various tasks involved via descriptive analyses, tables, charts, photographs and maps. It approaches the subject matter from two critical perspectives: bottom-up and top-down, from starting at the very lowest level and the smallest components such as the unique character and identity of a historic place and its community, to focusing on the larger picture and eventual goals.  Both perspective are equally crucial towards developing a successful programme by providing viable and feasible start and end points.

The simple step by step procedures outlining the processes, tools and techniques for collecting and assessing both tangible and intangible cultural assets and resources of any community provide the user with a clear methodology to unravel the complex and significant elements which make up any human settlement.

New Arts-ED cover 17Jan2014A Community-based Arts & Culture Education‘Resource kit’ provides innovative and challenging hands-on methods on planning, designing and executing an arts and culture education project using case studies, methodologies (planning, design, evaluation etc) and sample programmes.  The case studies and sample lesson plans can be adapted to suit the context of different communities, cultures and varying human and physical resources. It will be particularly useful to individuals, groups, artists, teachers and educators keen to work with young people in the field of cultural conservation or arts education.

Both books are written by Janet Pillai, a former associate professor at the School of Arts, Universiti Sains Malaysia. No stranger to the local culture and heritage scene, Janet also works in partnership with Arts-ED, a non-profit organisation based in Penang which specialises in innovative community-based arts and culture education for young people.