Carnival 365: Building on the Cultural Capital of Barranquilla
David Montero Jalil
Given the social inequalities that exist in Barranquilla and the lack of inclusive public environments, this research analyses the potential of scaling up the main asset of the city’s cultural capital – its carnival – to support a strategy that would materialize the vision of a city with useful, attractive, inclusive and vibrant public places that promote equality of quality of life during the whole year. Ethnographic research is done to understand the cultural DNA of the city, both during the carnival and the rest of the year, in order to have elements for the construction of the strategy. The research is done mainly on two levels: institutional and ground level, and has input from local authorities, academics, citizens, private and non-governmental organizations.From informal conversations, formal interviews, field observation and direct experience in the city the author analyses holistically physical, social, economic aspects among others. The first section of the work explains the importance of the carnival as part of the cultural capital of the city, and the social inclusiveness that occurs in public spaces when it takes place. The second section explains the main needs and challenges that the stakeholders of the carnival have in order to keep taking advantage of and growing this asset for the public good of the city. The third section proposes the strategy for Carnival 365 to provide solutions both to the lack of inclusive public spaces in the city, and the challenges of the carnival to keep operating in the long run.Fo r this purpose, the strategy integrates carnival initiatives and processes that are already operating in the city and have the potential to be scaled up to be available during the entire year in public spaces. Four main pillars of action are recommended to be implemented with specific initiatives that can be fostered to be the cement that would sustain the pillars of the strategy in its early stages of creation. The strategy proposes incremental solutions to understanding the city’s own capabilities and limitations, instead of embedding external models or initiatives that could be disrupting in the early stages of implementation. Finally, the conclusion connects the solutions that the strategy of Carnival 365 gives, based on the principles of equality within the context and urban complexities of Barranquilla, and provides a wider reflection about the relevance of the cultural capital of cities to provide quality of life and opportunities to citizens, despite the existence of large social inequalities.