Keep on walkin'
City Zagreb, Croatia
The tour as a tool was developed as a part of the Mjestimice svjetlo/Light in Places Festival in Zagreb, Croatia. The festival is dedicated to public spaces in Zagreb Upper Town. Historically, culturally and administratively, the center of Zagreb and Croatia measures 79,82 ha of surface with a little over 2600 residents living there. A large number of administrative buildings, cultural and educational institutions and historic landmarks which attract a great number of visitors on a daily basis, has shrunk the living space for Upper Town residents and converted it into a space with limited content for everyday life. The project questions the identity of the Upper Town, its heritage, current and future growth potential, content quality in urban space, the relation between the residents and everyday users and the functionality of the neighborhood in general. Mjestimice svjetlo/Light in Places temporarily revitalizes chosen locations and accommodates artworks within a defined urban structure of the neighborhood using light-based interventions on public locations in the Upper Town. The walking tours were a direct medium in communication with actors of the project (artists, residents, everyday users of the public spaces) in order to get the starting points for the festival as well as to promote the project.
The guided walking tours were first organized in the preparation phase of the project. We wanted to organize a more direct and detailed project and location presentation and also encourage community participation. It was a good framework for the artists to see the locations for their potential art works, to see what the problems of these locations are during day and night, hear about interesting historic facts, future projects, and meet residents. A lot of artists that participated in the walking tours and applied to the open call. The tours were not just limited to artists and residents, but were open to anybody interested in an alternative city experience and discovering hidden urban gems.
Mjestimice svjetlo/Light in Places is an interdisciplinary art project that emphasizes the issue of urban development by placing temporary light art installations in neglected public spaces in Zagreb, Croatia. The project aims to reactivate certain public spaces through artistic interventions. Throughout different stages of the project, we used the guided walking tours as a participational, communicational and promotional tool. During the open call for art works, we organized two guided tours that gave interested artists the change to explore the festival locations and learn more about their context. It was also an opportunity to promote the project and to include residents, who gave their direct input about the selected locations. During our three-day festival, we also organized a tour for all visitors. It was a tour through the neighborhood, with a focus on the light art projects. The turnout for all three tours was more than we expected. We learned that people are really interested in programs like these, because it gives them an opportunity to directly discover their city and surroundings, through different types of stories (historic, present, future projects), going to places that are usually not open to the public, etc.
Things you need AIM IT RIGHT
Decide on the aim of the guided walking tours and how they can help you with your project.
Communication FIND MR/MRS RIGHT
Find a guide that can help you organize an interesting and creative tour.
Location LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
Select the locations that will be included in the tour, find interesting spots that people do not know about or that are usually closed to the public. You can select specific participants for the tour if the concept requires it (municipality or government representatives, experts, students, residents, etc.)
Communication READY, STEADY, PROMOTE!
Preparation time for the tour concept can take from several days up to two weeks depending on how many people will be included. Start promoting the tour about two weeks before the event.
Communication SORT OUT THE DETAILS
You can decide if the tour will be open to the public or if it is limited due to restrictions of some tour locations. Make it clear if people need to apply in advance for a tour spot.
Communication HAVE SOMETHING UP YOUR SLEEVE
It can be useful if most tour locations and the duration are known in advance. Some details can of course be kept as a surprise for the tour.
Communication CHANGES ARE GOOD
On the day of the tour, be open to some spontaneity, depending on the participants of the tour. Maybe someone invites you to visit an extra location.
Misc MAKE VISUALS
Document the tour. The photos are not just archive material but also a good way to promote next events.
Evaluate the tour. Think about improving some aspects of the tour that didn’t work out.