Like many small European cities, Helsingborg suffers from segregation. A socio-economic rift separates the city into an affluent area and an area characterised by deprivation. In recent years, an extensive programme of regeneration has been initiated to improve deprived parts of the city, but rather than bringing the two Helsingborgs together, it appears to have highlighted the divide between them. Within the context of this division, Helsingborg City Theatre invited CLEAR VILLAGE to help enhance the Theatre’s relevance, focusing on outreach designed to re-integrate the city.
Over a multi-year collaboration, CLEAR VILLAGE interviewed local people and asked them to share their narrative of the city through guided walks. Three Dynamic Dialogues Labs brought together key stakeholders and members of the local community for intensive design sessions that included action-learning, rapid prototyping and other participatory techniques. During the final Lab, which involved close collaboration with Helsingborg’s city authorities, the participants developed a collective cultural vision for the city for the next 10-20 years.
The local partners have implemented a range of recommendations including: creating a pioneering cultural cabinet (‘kulturting’) to advise cultural and creative organisations; opening the Theatre’s stages to local performers; partnering with the Integration Council to produce conversation pieces for immigrant groups; and launching a project to bring together schoolchildren with different socio-economic backgrounds to write and perform their own musical. The City Theatre, which is now seen as a driver of cultural change, has also managed to engage a host of new partners including: the Open University, Helsingborg’s Development Committee, the Council for Cultural Services, the Urban Planning Department, the Regeneration Agency (H+), and the prestigious University of Lund.