polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Welcome to the Creative Class

by George Carothers

There are few moments when one can truly disconnect the city from the human element of creativity. We are constantly imagining different ways to design, shape, build and transform our urban environments, all the while experimenting with new ways of inhabiting these dynamic places. In Mumbai, the URBZ team has been working hand in hand with a local community to enable children from one of the most misunderstood nieghbourhoods in the city to gain access to education in the creative arts.

The Shelter at Dharavi has gone through many stages of development, starting out as a locally based initiative to provide local youth with “a space to congregate, exchange ideas, create art, play, and learn”. The space was not only successful in attracting local children, but also in harvesting the interests of artists around the city, and beyond.

Through the hard work of the Dharavi Shelter Trust and the URBZ team, many different projects have been launched since the Shelter’s inception, with local children participating in various arts programs, from performance to painting, all of which have been provided by volunteers. One of the most popular programs for the children has been the provision of photography classes.

The classes, which have been provided through the generous support of donated cameras, have enabled children to learn the fundamentals of photography. Recent workshops have been led by photographer Lasse Bak Mejlvang and renowned Bombay artist Himanshu S, and the results of these sessions have been uploaded onto the URBZ Flickr Account.

Examining the outputs of these sessions exposes the bare bones of the Shelter’s vision, where we are reminded of the value of art, expression, and individuality in the making and understanding of the city. Images of places, family and friends showcase the core elements of every community, regardless of class, caste, religion, or orientation. True to the core vision of the URBZ concept, creative cities are those that champion the creative visions of the those who make the most of the built environment: the ‘user’.

To get in touch with the URBZ team, or to find out more about the Shelter at Dharavi (and how you can support it), stop by their website here and send warm regards from Polis.

Credits: Image of Photography Class from Lasse Bak and URBZ. Images of New Transit Camp, Dharavi from Children attending the Shelter at Dharavi, hosted by the Dharavi Shelter Trust and URBZ.