The SOHO Arts District is a cultural and commercial area situated within the Ensanche Heredia neighbourhood. Once a thriving commercial area, Ensanche Heredia suffered from problems of deterioration, marginalization and criminality.
To turn the tide and reactivate the area, neighbourhood residents joined forces. They came with the idea of creating a cultural district and formed the Soho Málaga Citizen Association (AESM; Asociación de Empresarios del Soho Málaga). The arts district has been realized through a cooperation of different public and private stakeholders. A combination of re-utilizing abandoned historic buildings, improvements to the public space, and support to the creative industries have led to a buzzing creative area full of cafes, galleries and art spaces.
The Art District is part of the Ensanche Heredia neighbourhood in the city of Malaga. It is located between the historic center and the port, and was once a thriving commercial centre. However, diminishing commercial activity led to problems of deterioration, prostitution, illegal immigration, and marginalization. In an attempt to turn the tide, neighbourhood residents joined forces in order to regenerate the area. [1;2;3]
In attempt to revive their neighbourhood, residents and business owners in Ensanche Heredia started to unite themselves in the Soho Málaga Citizen Association (AESM; Asociación de Empresarios del Soho Málaga). The idea was to create a cultural district in their neighbourhood. Through the association, cultural projects were initiated, and business synergies were sought. Furthermore, the association started to engage with various public authorities to pitch their ideas. In 2004, the College of Architects and the local municipality got on board. [1;3]
The arts district has been realized through a cooperation of different public and private stakeholders, with a wide variety of stakeholders contributing to the SOHO Art District Master Plan. The plan aimed to activate new productive sectors, services and alternative industries that generate employment. Efforts were made to map empty buildings in an Online Real Estate Listing, providing an overview of available commercial spaces. A Bank for New Business Ideas was created to stimulate entrepreneurial activity. Furthermore, a branding strategy was designed for marketing the area both nationally and internationally. [1;3] A wide range of cultural events and festivals was initiated. [1;2] The area is especially famous for its graffiti and street art, ignited by the MAUS programme (Málaga Arte Urbano Soho), through which a range of artistic initiatives were organised and that drew renowned national and international artists to the neighbourhood. [3;5] Overall, the combination of re-utilizing abandoned historic buildings, improvements to the public space, and support to the creative industries have led to a buzzing creative area full of cafes, galleries and art spaces. It attracts many national and international visitors, and careful future development is needed to battle gentrification, negative consequences of mass tourism and displacement. 
Multiple actors, including citizens and city council participated in designing the project that aimed to transform the area with culture and art as triggers of change. The idea of an arts district emerged from local residents and business owners that had joined in the Soho Málaga Citizen Association (AESM; Asociación de Empresarios del Soho Málaga). Their ideas have been adopted by public partners, like the College of Architects and the Municipal Urban Planning Agency. The arts district has been realized through a cooperation of different public and private stakeholders, with community members, local artists, entrepreneurs and public bodies being involved in designing interventions through the SOHO Art District Master Plan. This plan set out the different social and economic actions planned, and formed the basis for the cooperation between different stakeholders. To represent citizens and institutional partners in the execution of the Master Plan, two bodies were created: the Soho Art District Assembly, and the Technical Work Boards, which met frequently to discuss progress. [1;2;3]
A combination of EU funding and local public funding provided for infrastructural adjustments, like a renewed public lighting system and improved pedestrian access to the area. [2;3]
The exact amount of public and private investment in the area is unknown.
This case is also featured in the HUB-IN Business and Financing Model Guide.
This guide provides you with a state of the art overview of business, financing and governance models, relevant to the heritage-led regeneration of Historic Urban Areas.
SOHO Malaga, website Malaga City Council, soho.malaga.eu/, accessed at 06-01-2022
Culture: Key to the sustainability of cities, UNESCO World Heritage No 81, available at www.unesco.org/culture/culture-for-sustainable-urban-development/WH81-en.pdf, accessed on 06-01-2022
Urbact (2017): Arts District, available at urbact.eu/arts-district, accessed on 06-01-2022
El Español (2021), El Soho de Málaga: de fallido barrio de las artes a nueva atracción turística, available at www.elespanol.com/malaga/vivir/20210715/soho-malaga-fallido-barrio-artes-atraccion-turistica/595191491_0.html, accessed on 06-01-2022
SOHO Malaga, Promotional website, www.sohomlg.com/, accessed at 06-01-2022