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The city and cultural spaces

Throughout history, cities have acted as development hubs that welcome creativity and expressions of cultures, through organizations such as museums or cultural spaces. Narratives are constructed from them, which are revealed to the wide audiences that participate and interact in these places.

Cultural centres facilitate the switch of pre-existing hierarchies through their narratives, shedding light on what is still invisible, showing the possible worlds, opening instances where desires come to life and where impossibility becomes, what is to be. They are ideal spaces to welcome the diversity of cultural expressions and their multiple identities in transit, the drives of the various territories, the ancestral, the memories and their present meaning. Narratives and artistic expressions take the place of knowledge and practices that are often turned away by academia, official history or the markets.

Centro Cultural La Moneda, founded in 2006 under the Presidency of Ricardo Lagos is located in the civic centre of the city of Santiago, greets us at its entrance, with the phrase: Pacific and Southern Chile. We open our doors to knowledge and to be enriched with the cultures of the world.

Its strategic location in the heart of Santiago makes this the most visited cultural centre in the country, an instance of transit, interaction and coexistence of various audiences. A building whose underground architecture is also the heritage of all who inhabit this territory; a building that currently is a space for everyone, hosting exhibitions of excellence; exhibiting and privileging the role that world and local cultures play in the formation and understanding of humanity’s transits.

Since its creation, Centro cultural La Moneda has had the vocation of being a space that welcomes the community in all its diversity. Plurality and critical reflection have led its almost fifteen years of existence, with large-scale exhibitions and the development of a powerful and strategic educational area.

Culture as a complement to school

It is of common knowledge that school is not the only place where children and young people obtain the necessary knowledge for their integral development. Currently, the hours and relevance of subjects such as art, music, philosophy and history have decreased in school curricula. Those “other educational spaces“, such as cultural centres, museums and theatres, gain even more relevance. Strengthening their programming and their role in society becomes an imperative to complement the work of schools, families and cities, providing from these spaces, cultural instances that develop, strengthen and instate life skills that are fundamental for coexistence and subsistence in a society that cries out to find the means that enable a harmonious coexistence.

In these times of pandemic, in which we have returned to the intimate space, home, we have the opportunity to reflect together on what kind of learning and, in which scenarios we will implement the new developments required for this century. Environments in which girls, boys and young people learn require to be “rethought” as well as “what they learn” and for “Which future”. The inequities in our educational system clearly show us that we are facing a new opportunity to think about school, university and technical education in different modalities and with different intentions. Returning to a transformative perspective that does not perpetuate the initial socioeconomic differences.

Diverse public settings such as parks, museums, cultural centres and libraries, where boys, girls, young people and the elderly, who possess a range of interests and realities come together, * are relevant when contributing to the purposes of education, generating new opportunities for situated learning. Environments in which in addition to new knowledge, new emotional, social and ethical skills can be put in practice, thereby contributing to the generation of a change in attitude, more consistent with humanistic and democratic principles. It is not possible to contribute to society with respect, and “care” for others and nature, if this is not explicitly taught. It is necessary that many spaces and “settings” contribute to this, beyond school.


The cultural spaces of the 21st century have played a key role in the political and cultural reflexivity of societies, promoting social interaction, through the expression of cultural diversity and the articulation of knowledge, which are shared with their territories and communities. Jim McGuigan (1996) reinforces the idea that cultural institutions produce and move along symbolic meanings and practices like in no other sphere, deploying knowledge experienced directly in society. This generates imaginable and perceivable new realities and relationships. In this way, cultural spaces have an inherent social meaning, as they are open and democratic spaces, for and by the people.


Currently, the theoretical discussion has acknowledged these spaces as backdrops for controversies and critical-cultural debates, which according to Jennifer Barrett (2012), supports the idea that cultural institutionalism would not only be a platform of support for the public sphere but rather a public sphere of social deliberation in itself, in which regardless of how fragmented, diverse and multiple reality lays out, it is possible to create instances where everyone can equally participate.


The programming of a cultural space is a reflection of the commitment and social responsibility that defines it transversally; proposing exhibitions, concerts, various activities through a coherent agenda that delves into the social aspect. Above all, it generates public discourses that promote social cohesion from dialogue and difference, enriching the ways of seeing, perceiving and to ponder on the imageries and the representations of those hegemonic stories.


CCLM and its social-cultural role

Cultural spaces can ensure not only equitable access, but also, equitable participation. These type of institutions enable us to explore our past, and at the same time, they are a means to imagine possible tomorrows, they are open forums for communication and interaction of and with the community. These spaces, true reservoirs of the creativity of the communities that inhabit a territory also deliver and are part of the identity of a city. This is how in Santiago de Chile, a cultural axis at a Latin American level, Centro Cultural La Moneda has become a symbol of the encounter of diversity of which we are part; a collection of the expressions of our territory.

In times of pandemic, when our ways of life are strongly challenged, we believe that sustainable social development is possible when societies provide equal opportunities for the empowerment and participation of its community. Cultural centres are solid institutions in which communities place their trust through encounters and experiences that enhance horizontality and humanity. The culture-related human rights approach recognizes heritage institutions as institutions that collaborate towards social progress. These spaces are able to reflect the diversity and dynamism of societies according to their tangible and intangible heritage.

Last year, more than a million people visited Centro Cultural La Moneda. Our inclusion policy considers free access to 5 exhibition rooms. Access to the two large rooms is always free of charge for the elderly, teachers, young children, and for everyone, starting from three in the afternoon. We provided a community meeting space with free access to Wi-Fi with the intention of being a meeting space in everyday life. In 2019 we inaugurated Galería Cero, the first gallery dedicated to early childhood which seeks to be a first encounter with the arts and culture for girls and boys from 0 to 8 years old. A few months after its inauguration, more than eight thousand people had participated in Galería Cero and in specially designed workshops.

Inclusiveness in audiences has also been enhanced through collaboration agreements with various institutions, which is how we have been able to carry out: special cinema screenings, literary and Tai Chi workshops for the elderly. The presentation of a play performed by the Haitian community is part of our program with immigrants. Along with this, in 2019 we presented 12 concerts where young talents of municipal orchestras from Coyhaique, Puente Alto, Cochamó, La Legua, San Francisco de Mostazal and La Pintana, among others, captivated everyone with their music, with an average of 2,290 attendees at each concert: this is how we bring the CCLM Hall to life. We consider it essential to share knowledge with other cultural institutions and to collaborate throughout the territory, thus, we have deployed a series of workshops aimed at mediators who come from different cultural institutions in the country. We arrived to Chiloé with a solid program for rural school teachers.

Two hundred and thirty-three thousand elementary and middle school students accessed high-level cultural experiences supported by the learning material we created, through mediated visits to the exhibitions. We strengthened values ​​such as respect and dialogue, under the basis of understanding interculturality, as the act of learning the point of view and form of expression of others.  Aspects that we consider fundamental in the construction of more just and inclusive societies. A current urgency in which, we note the resurgence of anti-racist movements that have unveiled the persistence and depth of this problem.

Cineteca Nacional de Chile, which is part of CCLM, allows us to safeguard and restore the national cinema heritage and at the same time to promote Chilean creators and their cinema, screenings at the Cineteca and online. With its open access platform, it allows us to discover our heritage. We reached 179,000 people in 2019.

Understanding cultural spaces as instances that generate social change, and that the forms of development are determined by cultural factors, the role of cultural institutions has gained importance in various levels worldwide. These are democratizing spaces, mobilizers of the subjects’ ability to choose, it is substance when thinking about people’s relation to their environment. Conceived as a meeting space of different perspectives, Centro Cultural La Moneda articulates activities and exhibitions that constitute bridges to access languages ​​and knowledge from different periods of our history, exploring the links between heritage, history and contemporaneity.

In times of uncertainty about the future, it becomes imperative for everyone to take care of these spaces; heritage reservoirs that will allow for an equitable social development that guarantees access for all, and that protects access to world heritage for the next generations. The global crisis we are going through demonstrates a crisis of the human being, the environment and the way we live. We need to find newer and more collaborative ways, create more spaces in order to become better human beings, which allow us to breathe deeply and expand our visions and understanding. Let’s take care of our institutions and our cultural practices; lets assign the corresponding value to these heritage-relevant spaces, where the diverse expressions of our identity come together. This is where new ways of living, building and developing for the next generations will take place.


Beatriz Bustos Oyanedel
Centro Cultural La Moneda


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