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5.4 Temporal Cultural Assets- The importance of revealing and paying respect to hidden, changing and lost layers of cultural assets

The diversity of cultural assets which are present throughout Paisley and Renfrewshire is clearly large, as evidenced by the degree of entries on the digital cultural asset map (chapter three) across many categories. The insight gained from the cognitive mapping showed that places of cultural interest span different timescales and generations, there are things which no longer exist on the ground but remain in memory, as noted in the hidden heritage typology and section 4.2.3. To reveal these as cultural assets shows respect, and recognises them as important, provided that they are recorded. Examples of this from my research include the location of former tram routes, or mills, which formed a community hub. As cognitive mapping crosses timelines, one can place past and present items on a personal cognitive map, which is a useful tool for further discussion and understanding of the area, especially if one is combining the mapping with another methods such as photo-voice elicitation (Guell and Ogilvie, 2013); in the case of my research the use of digital storytelling and digital asset mapping brings together a multi-modal picture of cultural assets in an area.

To illustrate the application of temporal assets one can use the example of a sporting stadium (in this case St Mirren football club). The physical asset itself is represented through a data point on the digital cultural asset map, colour coded according to its category (sports, leisure and open space, using the methods as noted in section 2.4.1). Several participants included the football club on their cognitive map, showing its importance in the cultural life of the study area. To further complicate and add interest to this example, this particular football club has relocated to an upgraded stadium in the town, so the digital storytelling captured memories of the matches at the previous ground at a particular point in time, a peek into how a writers group were invited to the old ground before it closed, and also experiences which would be part of the common ritual for football match attendees at many venues (pies and Bovril). There are therefore elements within the life of this cultural asset which cross audience types, time and spatial location.

The context within which one lives, and one’s age can influence the manner with which one identifies cultural assets. Lask (2011) argues that for young people in particular cafes and shops are important in the cultural make up of an area, as echoed in my research, whilst Miles and Ebrey (2017) note the importance of everyday activities in making up the cultural landscape (for example in a rural area the village hall, bingo, coffee shop, gym classes and pub all form a context for an ethnographic research project into cultural activity). I would disagree with the point that “Run-of-the-mill organisations such as the local playgroups, football teams and theatre clubs.. (are).. not considered culturally significant” Miles and Ebrey (2017, p.62) however as these are vital cultural assets to some areas and must be plotted by researchers as cultural assets without attributing a value judgment to them.

It is also important to consider how a cultural asset map will change over time, as new groups form or fold and the population demographics alter with age and interest. Layers of cultural activity occur, perhaps in waves as they can come and go with fashion (as evidenced in the use of statutory listing criteria, which now recognise “An Icon of the British skateboard scene, and thus an important and enduring strand in late C20 and contemporary youth culture” (Historic England, 2014) by designating it as a Grade II listed structure.

Anticipation of forthcoming cultural activity trends is not always possible, therefore having space which is adaptable and responsive to change is desirable. This may be in the form of properties where short term lets and pop up units are available, or ensuring that local legislation is supportive (or at least not obstructive) to the ability to hold cultural events in public spaces and vacant spaces. As “art doesn’t work from top-down thinking. It comes

from the backrooms of pubs and creative spaces with cheap rents where artists can make a scene” (Desire Lines, 2015, p.18) there is a danger of over-planning cultural areas; making assumptions about the nature of spaces which are required and being overly prescriptive about the nature of the activities which may take place. This approach has been termed “cultural governmentality” (Krivý, 2013, p.1726) and creates a top down form of governance which may preclude the development of new cultural spaces and activities. Wilson and O’Brien (2012) note that subcultures are often not recognised in sanctioned cultural activity, citing examples of parkour and skateboarding as non capitalistic forms of expression which should legitimately be celebrated alongside more mainstream activities, and Miles and Gibson (2016, p.151) note that “middle-class norms” take uncecessary precedence in policy actions. Németh (2006) goes further, condemning the action of officials who attempted to remove skateboarders from a high profile public area of his city and relocate them to a new purpose built arena which was not designed to meet the needs of the preferred skating style of those practitioners, and was not as accessible for the intended audience. This kind of potentially well intended but ill-informed action is an example of top down activity which is actively discouraged by policy aiming towards more inclusive governance (European Commission, 2015, p.14) and in enacting such an approach a cultural researcher may be able to influence the actions of an institution if based within that context.