woman with dark hair and glasses speaks from a podium

Regents’ Lecturer Sees Unity of Purpose Among Planners and Artists

Urban planning can seem bureaucratic and risk-averse — seemingly closed off to experimentation and imagination. “But I believe that planners have a lot of creativity,” said UC Regents’ lecturer Mallory Rukhsana Nezam during a Feb. 21 presentation in the Grand Salon of Kerckhoff Hall. “I always find that planners are the most excited about their arts and culture work,” Nezam said. She has worked with many planners who are driven toward social causes and social change. “And artists are also drawn to that. So, there’s an overlap of values there.” In her consulting practice, Justice + Joy, Nezam seeks to de-silo the way cities are run and build models for interdisciplinary collaboration. “What planners are actually doing is work that pertains to a built environment, and I think that’s really ripe for this intersection with arts and culture,” she said during a presentation that included a lively Q&A session with Professor Chris Tilly of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and audience members. Nezam’s presentation was organized around reimagining planning in three ways — structural, process and spatial. Citing examples from across the country, she outlined ways in which city planners are incorporating artists into government, including a growing number of artists-in-residence. “These residencies are embedding artists deeply as co-creators and problem-solvers,” she said. “We’re not talking about artists just painting murals, we’re actually talking about artists being at the table when we’re discussing policy.” She expressed optimism about approaches that reward innovation. “We have to imagine something different — imagine a world we haven’t created yet. And that’s where this creative, radical imagination of arts and culture can come in.”

Download an audio recording or view photos on Flickr.

Mallory Nezam Regents' Lecture


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