In the volume Speak, Memory (1969),1 the autobiographical recollections of the novelist Vladimir Nabokov are presented, saturated with the history and qualities of the famous writer’s life and times. In his choice of a brusque and unforgettable title Nabokov announces both an arresting purpose and a key metaphor for his undertaking. In this article ‘Speak, Culture’, I wish to suggest in a similar decisive fashion, a rationale and an approach for another project – the effective integration of culture into planning. This is long overdue, for lamentably, while culture is embedded in geographies, societies and histories, its voice is weak in planning. In fact culture rarely seems to speak meaningfully in planning at all. Although the reasons for this are numerous, perhaps the most fundamental is the fact that the power of culture as an organising concept has only lately begun to be perceived, or utilised. And then, by its very nature, culture appears to resist a rigorous and ethical integration into planning. Examples of the systematic and foundational inclusion of culture in urban and regional planning are in short supply all around the globe. What familiarity with culture there is, tends to lie more with its limited and often opportunistic inclusion in strategic planning and speciﬁc planning sectors, such as tourism, heritage, and marketing. This inclusion reﬂects quite directly a broader, emerging picture – that of culturalisation. This is the complex pattern of an era ‘in which economic and organisational life has become increasingly “culturalised”’.2 The reason for this is the fact that under modern capitalism, cultural production is ‘increasingly commodiﬁed
This is particularly manifest in the growth of the cultural economy, encompassing for example advertising, marketing, the arts, and the media. In the ﬁeld of the arts as Evans notes culturalisation can include cultural planning and planning for the arts, particularly in terms of ‘the growing attention paid to the cultural economy and the commodiﬁcation of the arts as urban cultural assets’.4 Broader planning follows this trend especially in sectors such as development, tourism and heritage, where cultural forms and cultural content are increasingly incorporated in planning and commodiﬁed in the process.