Kakán, the voice from Quilmes

1. Quilmes and culture

Quilmes is a municipality with an estimated population of 700,000 inhabitants, located in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The municipality’s intercultural character is comprised of Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities, and migrant groups, which together creates a complex and plurality of identity in Quilmes.

Given the context, the local government promotes public policies that encourage the expression of, and active participation in, diversity by supporting the activity of numerous institutions that promote intercultural dialogue in different neighbourhoods. This helps overcome unequal access to rights and improves the area’s sustainable development.

The program aims to promote production and eqaul access around cultural goods and rights throughout the territory with magazines, games, and affective mapping.

2. Project goals and implementation

2.1. Main goal and specific objectives

The program aims to promote production and equal access around cultural goods and rights throughout the territory, especially in neighbourhoods and territories in vulnerable conditions). It focuses on children, adolescents, and families. Through magazines, games, and affective mapping, the program hopes to actively integrate the community in the reconstruction of neighbourhood histories and the unknown and/or silenced stories of communities, strengthening identity and cultural development in an engaging way.

2.2. Project development

The program publishes games and magazines with biographies, events, sites, and local landscapes that spark dialogue around history and regional identity. These materials promote conversations among families and in educational contexts, facilitating intergenerational exchange and shared knowledge.

It supported teachers and families in building collective memory that promotes participation, where voices and expressions of learning are collaboratively amplified in museum exhibits, in public spaces through murals, and on the municipality’s web pages.

Both in games and magazines, the approach to the content is one that seeks to promote cooperation, encourage interaction and community building, democratize knowledge, and promote accessibility to all participants. The simultaneously both transmits and reconstructs culture in order to enrich it.

In this way, it is geared towards reviving a cultural dimension of play as an indispensable element for the development of the population. The project works with affective cartographies, which are moments of dialogue around mapping and activities with children and families in the neighbourhoods, where it works in a cross-cutting way alongside public works, which intervenes via infrastructure improvements throughout the territory. At these meeting points, interviews are conducted where the people of Quilmes share their experiences in person, which are recorded and later shared in audiovisual format.

Additionally, through different actions this platform meets the demands and proposals made by public, private, and community cultural actors and spaces. The main actions carried out are:

  • Workshops under the Kakán program in the neighbourhoods.
  • Distribution of magazines and games in private homes during the pandemic.
  • Inclusion of collective neighbourhood memories in museums, challenging the distribution of power that was historically sustained through hegemonic narratives.
  • Creation of collective community murals where neighbourhood identity is represented.
  • Mapping of cultural spaces and activities in neighbourhoods.
  • Visits to museums by neighbourhood communities.
  • Free access to content through the municipal website.

The games and magazines spark dialogue around history and regional identity, facilitating intergenerational exchange and shared knowledge.

3. Impacts

3.1. Direct impacts

Kakán emerged to remedy the consequences of cultural colonialism, co-creating a local narrative that includes culture as an essential dimension of inclusive development. The program has been established as a public policy focused on access to local cultural rights and cross-cutting areas of local management.

The Departments of Urban Development and Public Works, Education, Social Development, Environment and Sustainable Development, and others, include the Kakán program in their regional project actions, recognizing cultural management as a protagonist in the affective community framework and recognizing cultural rights as fundamental elements for sustainable local development.

3.2. Assessment

A mixed monitoring and evaluation system for data standardization based on qualitative indicators (user satisfaction surveys, interviews with workshop leaders, implementers, and users, as well as focus groups) and quantitative indicators (such as the number of users, the proportion of the budget for the municipal cultural area allocated to the program, and the number of spaces occupied by the program, among others) has been planned.

Ongoing monitoring and participatory evaluation also make it possible to assess the program’s impact. The standardization of activities and the level of citizen participation make it possible to identify strengths and challenges, which are then used to update content and methodologies.

3.3. Key factors

The key factors for the success of the program is the design of an intergenerational communication tool where conversation and play are the priority, with content based on local history and identity, and which is socially inclusive and accessible. It also incorporates the local history of historically invisible identities: women, workers, artists, representatives of Indigenous communities, and members of the Kilme community, further challenging the older hegemonic narrative.

Finally, Kakán is viewed as a cross-cutting approach to other areas of the municipality and is currently considering creating collaborative projects that view culture as a fundamental dimension of community and territorial life.

3.4. Continuity

Kakán es una iniciativa vigente, y su asignación presupuestaria se encuentra contemplada en el presupuesto anual del municipio.

Respecto al contenido, el programa se planifica en constante actualización. A partir de la interacción con el público, se modifican contenidos preexistentes y se generan nuevos. Con la continuidad se prioriza la extensión en escala del programa a los barrios donde aún no se ha implementado, generando material audiovisual con participación de los ciudadanos, y promoviendo la producción de material educativo en el diseño de nuevos juegos y revistas.

Kakán emerged to remedy the consequences of cultural colonialism, co-creating a local narrative that includes culture as an essential dimension of inclusive development.

4. Further information

Quilmes was a candidate for the fifth UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award (February – June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September of 2022, and requested that the UCLG Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices implemented under Agenda 21 for culture.

This report was written by Nicolás Mellino, Secretary of Culture and Sport, City of Quilmes, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Contact: nicolasmellino80 (at) gmail.com

Website: www.quilmes.gov.ar/

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