Outreaching Community Culture Café

1. Gunsan and culture

Gunsan,a port city, is a logistics hub for Northeast Asian countries and a sea trade gateway to the Yellow Sea. The city recently experienced a big industrial crisis with several shut downs. However, four years ago, the local industry shifted to electric vehicles and new renewable energy, with the aim to form a new cluster of small and mediumsized companies towards a K-Green New Deal city.

The cultural policy of Gunsan City is to enhance the living conditions through cultural empathy and sharing activities for all, spreading citizens’ cultural life through the realization of cultural autonomy. The Gunsan Community Culture Café is planned by the local government and managed by the citizens, and it aims at creating a lifelong learning environment where anyone can learn at anytime and anywhere and to revitalize the city by reactivating the local community.

The initiative offers learning courses in the humanities, liberal arts, culture, art, health, exercise, foreign languages, computers, etc. By providing quality education and lifelong learning opportunities, the city contributes to the reduction of inequalities. Moreover, it works to enhance cultural rights by promoting online programs. The project is in line with the UN 2030 Agenda, especially SDG 4 (Quality education), SDG 8 (Growth and decent jobs), SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities) and SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities).

The goal is to create a lifelong learning environment where local members can learnt at anytime, anywhere, in addition to revitalizing the local economy. 

2. Project goals and implementation

2.1. Main goal and specific objectives

The main objective is to resolve the economic crisis through a support program and the use of commercial facilities to lift space and time restrictions on educational services. A shift to active learning, focusing on the learner, is being sought. The project aims at contributing to the creation of sustainable job opportunities and revitalizing the local economy in harmony with culture and education.

2.2. Project development

The goal is to create a lifelong learning environment where local members can learn at anytime, anywhere, in addition to revitalizing the local economy. Beneficiary populations are not only the students who are given lifelong learning opportunities, but also the people (teachers, instructors and so on) hired for the training operations, as well as the small businesses that benefit from the usage fees for the use of their spaces.

The project is to be operated for three semesters each year, with 400 lectures in each semester over a period of 10 weeks. The lectures cover humanities, liberal arts, culture, and art. During the application period for the project, students form into groups of 5 or more and register their desired learning location and a learning course. Business owners are to operate only one course per location, but learners can take two courses per person. Those taking approved courses will receive free support from Gunsan City for instructor fees and facility usage fees, and are allowed to attend the courses for 10 weeks. However, the material costs for the courses are to be paid by students.

The Community Culture Café is operated with the city budget, and the project costs sum up to total project costs from 2018 to 2022 is KRW 5,347 million.

A shift to active learning, focusing on the learner, is being sought.

3. Impacts

3.1. Direct impacts

The ‘Outreaching Community Culture Café’ is the first case of creating a complex space where business districts, education, and culture coexist. A trademark has been registered for it, and it is now a unique lifelong learning brand of Gunsan City. The educational service outreaches to everyone, at anytime and anywhere. The shortdistant learning platform is easily accessible, providing educational services to 20,000 users since the start of the project. The conventional method of teaching by lecturers and the communication with the learners have shifted to a mutual communication method where talent is donated by the residents, contributing their knowledge and skills to society and creating a virtuous circle of a systematic infrastructure. Additionally, using the idle time of the commercial buildings to generate revenue, the incomes of the business owners have increased, and the venues are used as private meeting places for residents even after the end of the courses. Gunsan City has become a leading lifelong learning city with an economic model focused on creating job opportunities and revitalizing the local economy.

3.2. Assessment

By conducting a survey, the city gathers feedbacks from students regarding the project every year. The survey results are reflected in the next year’s action plan in order to improve operational problems or difficulties. A growth-type learning club was introduced by reflecting the opinion that it was necessary to improve the level of regular learners.

3.3. Key factors

Learning opportunities may be limited if it is difficult for a student to visit the institution depending on individual circumstances. In this regard, the Community Culture Café is considered a project that has resolved temporal and spatial constraints. Women at risk of career interruption were able to continue their careers as instructors at Community Culture Cafés. As lifelong education learners shared the results of visiting welfare facilities, street performances, exhibitions, and experiences, learners were able to obtain the joy of learning and self-realization, and the local community was able to experience culture and art on the daily.

3.4. Continuity

Gunsan City plans to hold a sharing meeting with citizens by selecting excellent courses in order to increase the participation rate of students based on citizen learning, improve the employment of instructors, and increase the provision of learning places by small business owners. Also, as the expectations for citizens’ learning levels rise, the city intends to make continuous efforts toward learner-centered lifelong learning so that students can continue to grow.

The short-distant learning platform is easily accessible, providing educational services to 20 000 users since the beginning of the project.

4. Further information

Gunsan City 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 2022, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.

This article was written by Moon Jurie, Administrative Officer, Planning and Budget Division of Gunsan City, Jeollabuk do, Republic of Korea.

Contact: moonsea (at) korea.kr

Website: www.gunsan.go.kr

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