On 19 November 2018, Professor Gary Topp, Honorary Professor of Cities and Culture, delivered his inaugural lecture at the University of Birmingham.
The lecture explored ideas and reflections about how the cultural sector is part of a wider city narrative and its potential to be a powerful ‘placemaker’ in a world of homogenised city making.
It reflected that culture is too often placed in the second tier of city infrastructure, that it can constrain itself with its own debates about intrinsic and instrumental value, economic impact and participation and how concepts of democracy, ecology, capitalism, digital and more may or may not have a bearing on its future.
Gary is CEO of Culture Central - a city scale cultural development agency for Birmingham. He is an experienced CEO and leader in the cultural and not for profit sectors specialising in delivering projects related to city and regional change that involve a range of public, private and third sector partners. He describes this as the ‘polymath’ space – the leadership space that is an interaction of various disciplines to create new ways of working.
Gary has led several organisations, including Yorkshire Culture, Greening Australia and the Curzon Community Cinema. He was a visual arts curator and museums professional in his early career and maintains a deep interest in contemporary ceramics and painting as both a collector and writer.