Cultural Engineering Group

Services & Ressources en ingénierie culturelle

Les équipements et les territoires donnent du sens au secteur MICE

MICE directions

Si les dernières années ont été difficiles et ont vu les comportements évoluer fortement, 2014 a été l’année du rétablissement du secteur MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) dans la plupart des régions du monde alors qu’en France la demande a fait une rechute préoccupante (-5,2% par rapport à 2013). Le bilan attendu en France pour 2015 demeure donc un exercice sensible et on peut déjà acter qu’au regard des 10 dernières années, le secteur est devenu de moins en moins prévisible, ce qui rend la gestion et le développement des équipements de destination pour le moins délicat.

On peut noter le souci toujours plus grand de l’économie et de l’efficacité comme vecteur principal guidant les clients dans l’organisation de leur événement, mais les indicateurs des tendances du marché sont globalement encourageants pour 2015, montrant une progression au bénéfice de la plupart des destinations dans le monde.
Mais le secteur n’est pas aussi homogène qu’il n’y paraît, la réalité est beaucoup plus contrastée selon l’ouverture de la focale avec laquelle on observe certains acteurs du marché, et plus particulièrement en France pour les équipements accueillant ces événements.
Le positionnement et le niveau de rayonnement territorial de ces derniers, la polyvalence de leur activité et de leurs espaces, le niveau de leur programmation, l’état de leurs équipements, la dynamique de leur offre de service et de leur grille tarifaire, la synergie entre les acteurs de leur territoire, leur mode de gestion, … autant de facteurs extrêmement variables d’un équipement à l’autre, d’un territoire à l’autre. Une multitude de spécificités, de contextes et de situations qui rendent peu évident l’exploitation des données pour nourrir une analyse à un niveau macro économique.
Les centres de congrès, les palais des congrès et de spectacles, les halles d’exposition, etc. autant de typologies qui constituent un maillage territorial français qui, avec les équipements culturels, fait beaucoup d’envieux. Leur mode de gestion majoritairement et historiquement public est souvent critiqué et décrié, notamment depuis l’arrivée sur le marché de l’exploitation d’opérateurs privés, arrivée qui a coïncidé avec l’augmentation de la pression économique et financière sur les collectivités. Le mode de gestion publique est en réalité un véritable atout sur lequel il faudrait plus et mieux s’appuyer, chacun à son niveau, pour avoir un impact plus fort et des retombées toujours plus positives pour les territoires. Mais ces impacts et ces retombées sont très inégales d’un territoire à l’autre en fonction de 5 préalables :
  1. entretenir un écosystème territorial adapté au(x) bassin(s) de vie et d’activité,
  2. posséder les ingrédients essentiels à tout territoire dit de destination,
  3. avoir la capacité et la dynamique adéquates au sein même de l’équipement,
  4. savoir se projeter et évoluer en fonction d’objectifs stratégiques et opérationnels,
  5. piloter via un mode de gouvernance efficace et doté d’une vision à court terme et à moyen terme.
Ces 5 préalables doivent être parfaitement évalués et en ordre de marche, sans quoi c’est la foire aux illusions, avec son lot de désillusions lourd de conséquences, mais les évaluer et les (re)mettre en ordre de marche crée les conditions d’une adéquation entre offre et demande réussie et d’une plus grande soutenabilité, ce qui est plus que jamais indispensable aujourd’hui.
Si ces 5 préalables devenaient 5 critères d’analyse et d’aide à la décision (et le cas échéant de conduite du changement), les responsables et les décideurs présideraient plus aisément à la destinée de leur équipement et de leur territoire, sans se soucier outre mesure du sens des statistiques macro-économiques.

Classé dans:Analyses, Gouvernances, , , , , , , , , , ,

Barcelona Olympic facilities to host a 66.000 m2 sports theme park in 2015

Barcelona sports-1

In 2015, Barcelona Olympic Ring will become the home of Open Camp Sportainment, the first theme park in the world entirely dedicated to sports. According to Open Camp S.L., the company responsible for the project, the 66.000 m2 theme park will offer a « unique » show involving technology, family and sports. The new attraction will occupy the current Olympic Stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi sports hall, the Olympic and Sports Museum Juan Antonio Samaranch, the Bernat Picornell swimming pool, the telecommunications tower designed by Santiago Calatrava and the INEFC sports faculty, which will only be accessed during the summer break when there are no classes. All these facilities will combine their regular activities with those of the theme park, which will be open from April to October, some 250 days per year. The regular entry will cost €28; one of the « cheapest » prices for a theme park in Europe said Barcelona Deputy Mayor for Economy, Enterprise and Employment, Sònia Recasens. The project expects 7,000 visitors per day and an annual economic impact for Barcelona of 52.8 million euros. It will also generate approximately 240 jobs, contributing for the local employment rates.

In 2012, Open Camp S.L. started promoting the Open Camp Sportainment; a business, scientific and technological initiative aimed to offer to millions of fans worldwide entertainment experiences related to sports, localized in specialized settings such as parks, stadiums, hotels and restaurants.

After analyzing different alternatives across Europe, Open Camp S.L. considered Barcelona to be one of the « best » destinations to base the first theme park in the world exclusively dedicated to sports. According to the project’s General Director, Francesc Medina, the infrastructure of the Barcelona Olympic Ring is « perfectly preserved » comparing to other Olympic infrastructures around the world. Yet, an investment of over 20 million euros will be made in order to rehabilitate and modernize the Ring for the future usage.

Open Camp Sportainment is expected to open in 2015 in the Olympic Ring, on top of Montjuïc hill. The public will be able to visit the Olympic Stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi sports hall, the Communications Tower designed by Santiago Calatrava, the Bernal Picornell swimming pool and the area surrounding all these facilities. The park will be opened from April to October and, during summer time, visitors will also be also to access the installations of the National Institute of Physical Education (INEFC).

According to Francesc Medina, « the main approach is to create a new category from sports tourism and entertainment and from trends that underlie the project, such as the viewer being the only protagonist. » Open Camp Sportainment aims to become a benchmark for innovation related to sport, allying it with technology. An example is the exclusive mobile application that will guide the visitor throughout the entire visit.

The park will include different areas such as, the Open Museum which will offer interactive sporting experiences and, the Open Play, where visitors will be able to experience the collective side of sports and the media coverage of many different sporting events. Francesc Medina emphasized that these areas « comprise » a proposal of « sports culture » with activities and attractions associated with elements such as the system of media coverage.

The project expects 7,000 visitors per day and an economic impact for the city of 52.8 million euros per year. It will create approximately 240 jobs, contributing for the local employment rates. The regular ticket will cost 28 euros; one of the cheapest prices in Europe for theme parks, said Barcelona Deputy Mayor for Economy, Enterprise and Employment of the City Council, Sònia Recasens. However, a range of different tickets will be available.

Source : VilaWeb / News from Catalonia.

Classé dans:Evénements, Gouvernances, Politiques culturelles, , ,

Louvre-Lens, l’étude qui manquait !

La Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie Artois a récemment lancé un appel d’offre important. Son objet, Mission d’étude dans le cadre d’un Contrat d’Etudes Prospectives (C.E.P.) « Tourisme » consécutif à l’implantation du Musée Louvre-Lens, est au cœur des préoccupations de bien des territoires qui parmi les leviers de leur développement, de leur rayonnement et de leur attractivité, ont misé ou souhaitent miser sur un équipement culturel majeur.

Mais en prenant connaissance du cahier des charges, c’est une étrange impression qui saisit le lecteur, un mélange troublant de soulagement et de stupeur.

En effet, on a d’abord des raisons de s’enthousiasmer car la description du contexte de cet appel d’offres commence par poser de façon évidente et attendue :

  • la volonté forte de décentralisation et de démocratisation culturelles de l’Etat comme un levier de développement du territoire de l’ex-bassin minier,
  • le franc succès qu’a été l’ouverture du Louvre-Lens dans ses retombées médiatiques, le niveau de sa fréquentation, le sentiment de fierté des Lensois,
  • le choix d’implantation de cette institution culturelle de renommée mondiale dans une zone où une réelle dynamique économique est enclenchée depuis une vingtaine d’années,
  • cette vitalité qui produit un effet particulièrement positif sur l’économie du bassin Lens-Hénin…

Très vite (dès le 4ème paragraphe), la présentation prend le soin de ne pas occulter d’autres aspects de la réalité locale : c’est le constat qu’une part importante de la population « est encore à l’écart du développement humain avec un chômage élevé et un manque de formation et de ressources », la grande précarité économique, la faiblesse du revenu net imposable moyen annuel par foyer fiscal.

C’est ensuite le pari qu’en renforçant la place de la culture dans l’économie locale en voulant faire du territoire autour du Louvre-Lens une destination touristique à part entière, les activités présentielles (non délocalisables) « ne pourront que croître ».

L’échelon local ne peut pas se priver d’une clientèle supplémentaire estimée à 700 000 personnes minimum par an. Tout en reconnaissant que l’offre de touristique d’agrément reste à développer, la CCI Artois considère à juste titre que le musée ne pourra radicalement changer la donne que « si et seulement si » les acteurs locaux parviennent à transformer les visiteurs du Louvre en découvreurs du territoire et à leur fournir les services correspondant à leurs attentes.

La présentation du contexte poursuit en expliquant que les institutions et équipements culturels et touristiques en mesure de fixer les publics du Louvre et de les retenir sur le territoire sont aujourd’hui plus adaptés à l’accueil de populations locales qu’à l’accueil de clientèles extérieures et que les commerçants, comme les prestataires de services publics et privés devront s’adapter aux demandes particulières des touristes s’ils veulent obtenir des retombées économiques de leur venue.

L’ampleur et le niveau des évolutions à envisager sont donc considérables mais ces évolutions sont à la hauteur du défi lancé il y a plus de dix ans maintenant.

Avec le récent classement de l’ex-bassin minier au patrimoine mondial de l’Unesco, tous les ingrédients sont réunis pour construire une nouvelle destination internationale d’agrément, en tout cas, cette volonté est clairement exprimée.

C’est là que les choses deviennent intéressantes car le cahier des charges évoque ensuite les tentatives de mise en ordre de marche des acteurs pour la construction d’un écosystème territorial qui soit en capacité de répondre à tous ces enjeux :

  • mobilisation des villes pour repenser et améliorer les espaces publics et commerciaux
  • plans de circulation, parkings, aires de déambulation
  • valorisation du patrimoine architectural
  • outils d’information, de sensibilisation et d’accueil des clientèles étrangères
  • regroupement des offices de tourisme et mise en place de toute l’ingénierie touristique nécessaire, sous la houlette de la Mission Louvre-Lens Tourisme
  • sollicitation de chercheurs de tendance et de designers de renommée internationale, de talentueux concepteurs d’événementiels, de spécialistes de l’@tourisme, de cabinets imaginatifs pour élaborer le concept de destination touristique…

On se dit, parfait, ils ont tout prévu.

Le texte se poursuit en expliquant que tout comme Le Louvre à Lens a choisi d’être le « Louvre autrement » pour innover et expérimenter de nouvelles pratiques en matière de diffusion culturelle, le territoire a souhaité initier un « tourisme autrement » en faisant des habitants ses principaux acteurs et en les mettant au cœur du développement, reconnaissant ainsi que l’appropriation par la population du Louvre et de la fréquentation touristique qu’il engendrera est la condition sine qua non pour réussir l’ancrage de ce grand équipement sur le territoire et pour que les habitants et les visiteurs s’enrichissent mutuellement.

Vers une vraie ingénierie touristique et de tourisme culturel ? il y a de quoi s’enthousiasmer.

Arrive ensuite l’énumération par le menu des études conduites ces dernières années et qui ont notamment traité des implications touristiques du projet du Louvre-Lens :

  • Le Louvre à Lens : Impacts et stratégies territoriales par ECODEV – 2006
  • Etude INSEE sur « Le Louvre à Lens : un défi culturel, sociétal, économique et urbain », collection Profils n°110 – septembre 2012
  • L’hébergement touristique dans l’Aire Métropolitaine de Lille Agence de développement et d’urbanisme de Lille Métropole –  Etat des lieux 2006
  • Etude de l’appropriation du projet Louvre-Lens par les habitants et visiteurs, Etude des publics potentiels du futur Louvre-Lens  par Public & Culture – 2006, mise à jour en 2012
  • Etude sur les pratiques culturelles et sur les comportements touristiques  des clientèles européennes et enquête sur leur perception du Bassin Minier par Ipsos – 2011
  • Etude sur les valeurs identitaires du Lensois  par Nicaya – 2011
  • Etude sur le positionnement touristique de la destination à créer par Trend Union-Studio Edelkoort – 2012
  • Etude INSEE sur « Le tourisme en Nord – Pas-de-Calais : un secteur porteur d’emplois », collection Profils n° 126

On se dit, tout est prêt.

Et c’est là qu’on ne comprend plus. Tout l’objet de cet appel d’offre de la CCI Artois vise à se soucier de ce qui semble avoir été jusqu’à présent laissé en friche. L’étude a pour objectif la recherche de l’adéquation entre qualifications de la population et l’adaptation aux nouveaux enjeux professionnels en place désormais.

Comment dans ces conditions imaginer donner corps à cette volonté de faire « autrement » si on ne s’en est pas vraiment soucié avant ?

La CCI Artois est courageuse. Enfin un acteur qui se pose dans son cahier des charges les questions qui auraient dû être déjà réglées depuis longtemps :

  • « Quel sera l’impact réel du Louvre sur le développement économique du territoire ?
  • Dans quelle mesure les habitants peuvent-ils y contribuer ?
  • Quelles pourraient être les évolutions du marché du travail imputables à l’implantation du Louvre-Lens, celles-ci pourraient-elles mettre en évidence l’émergence d’activités induites ?
  • Les formations dispensées actuellement sont-elles adaptées ?
  • Quels seraient les impacts sur les besoins en compétences ? »

Comment a-t-on pu en arriver là pour se poser si tardivement ces questions pourtant si essentielles ? Il n’est peut-être pas trop tard mais le constat est affligeant et donne hélas du grain à moudre à tous les populismes dénonçant le gaspillage de l’argent public, le mille-feuille admininistratif, la technostructure, les élus trop soucieux de leur propre mandat et l’Etat déconnecté et désengagé des territoires…

Alors que depuis des années on nous dit partout que la culture est un levier pour le développement territorial, qu’elle contribue à l’attractivité et au rayonnement des territoires, qu’elle n’est pas qu’un supplément d’âme, qu’elle fait du lien social, etc. on pourrait légitiment penser que des projets comme le Louvre-Lens permettent d’établir des principes d’action et d’organisation entre les acteurs, voire des modèles et/ou des modélisations pertinentes et surtout suffisamment efficaces pour se soucier de ces questions plus tôt.

Apparemment non.

Les CCI sont des acteurs qu’il ne faut pas que solliciter en bout de chaîne, au contraire. Elles participent d’un principe de réalité qui manque parfois à bien des projets, même les meilleurs.

Bon nombre de projets gagneraient à être pensés en amont avec les consulaires si on veut vraiment faire en sorte qu’investissements et équipements culturels soient aussi une réussite sur ces aspects. C’est d’ailleurs sur une partie de ces aspects que repose la soutenabilité de ces mêmes projets.

La culture n’est pas un secteur replié sur lui-même, elle est (et l’a toujours été) connectée à bien des domaines des activités humaines. Les cloisonnements sont aujourd’hui particulièrement préjudiciables, surtout lorsque le tourisme, le développement économique et l’emploi sont concernés. Il faut faire le pari que cette étude de la CCI Artois sera entendue avec attention et surtout suivie d’effets car, maintenant que le Louvre-Lens est ouvert, c’est une nouvelle ère qui commence. Reste à savoir si les conditions seront réunies pour un effet positif durable. Cette étude est clairement là pour dire qu’il est temps de s’en soucier, vraiment, car c’est un ingrédient essentiel pour la réussite du Louvre-Lens pour le territoire.

Classé dans:Analyses, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Outils, Politiques culturelles, , , , , ,

Creative Broward 2020 : a plan for cultural and economic development in Broward County

The Cultural+Planning Group has been selected by Broward County to craft a 10-year Community Cultural Plan that examines diversity connected to Creative Economy, Cultural Tourism and Public Art and Design, and provides a comprehensive needs assessment, vision, draft legislation, policy framework, recommendations, strategies, funding requirements, funding sources, evaluation instrument, and benchmarks.

The vision of the Creative Broward 2020 plan is integrating cultural and economic development throughout Broward County, and based on the understanding that culture is a local resource and an economic asset, the plan draws on the unique diversity of its residents in the upcoming decade.

Here is the final report: 


More information here.

Classé dans:Analyses, Evénements, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Outils, Politiques culturelles, Ressources, , , , , , ,

Les clusters culturels et médiatiques : émergence, gouvernance et évaluation

mime-attachmentLes journées d’économie de la culture et de la communication du DEPS réunissent tous les deux ans des chercheurs, des acteurs économiques et des professionnels du champ culturel et médiatique pour mettre en débat les résultats de la recherche en économie portant sur les arts du spectacle vivant, le patrimoine, les arts plastiques et les industries de la culture et de la communication.

La 6e édition des journées sera consacrée à l’émergence, la gouvernance et l’évaluation des clusters culturels et médiatiques.

Les rapports entre les activités culturelles et médiatiques et les territoires font l’objet d’une attention renouvelée. Ils sont au centre de nombreux débats contemporains et occupent une place importante dans les prises de position et la communication d’une grande diversité d’acteurs nationaux et territoriaux. L’agglomération intentionnelle sur un territoire d’entreprises, d’organisations et de structures – appelée cluster, grappe ou pôle – est un des phénomènes les plus observés et discutés récemment.

Au cours de la dernière décennie, de nombreux travaux ont porté sur les clusters du domaine culturel et médiatique, poussés, entre autres, par des interrogations en matière d’intervention publique sur le caractère spontané de leur constitution et la possibilité pour les pouvoirs publics d’initier, ou du moins d’encourager, le phénomène d’agglomération. Face à l’ampleur, la diversité et l’hétérogénéité des résultats d’études et de recherches sur le sujet, il importe de faire un point sur l’état du savoir économique tout en discutant ces résultats à la lumière des expériences françaises et étrangères.

Les intervenants (économistes, urbanistes, géographes, responsables et professionnels) traiteront des deux thématiques suivantes : les choix de localisation des organisations créatives et l’émergence des clusters ; leur gouvernance et leur évaluation.

S’inscrire et participer

Source : ministère de la Culture et de la Communication et Stéréolux

Classé dans:Evénements, Gouvernances, , , , , , , ,

Orléans objectif 2025

Orleans2025On peut toujours s’interroger sur le bien-fondé d’une prospective territoriale qui fait son exposition dans la dernière partie d’un mandat politique (surtout après l’exposition Orléans 2015 réalisée en 2006, l’effet miroir est saisissant) mais cela a un intérêt certain : articuler ce qui a déjà été réalisé, ce qui a été reporté, ce qui est en cours de réalisation, ce qui est programmé et ce qui s’esquisse pour le futur.

Peuvent alors se dégager en principe une vision, une stratégie, une perspective d’avenir pour tous.

Au-delà de la communication que ce genre d’exposition permet, cela fait aussi parfois office de concertation des usagers, de lieu d’échange privilégié avec les habitants et les acteurs du développement urbain (sans toutefois surestimer cette question du dialogue au-travers d’une exposition), mais c’est aussi l’occasion de faire un bilan et de comprendre (ou pas) la cohérence d’un projet politique à l’oeuvre pour le territoire.

Orléans a choisi de rendre compte des profondes mutations engagées et à venir pour lui dessiner son visage de demain, c’est en tout état de cause un exercice utile et nécessaire.

L’enjeu, ne nous y trompons pas, est d’abord de poursuivre les efforts d’investissement pour accroître l’attractivité de la ville et de son territoire car Orléans, comme de très nombreuses agglomérations, doit faire face dans le contexte difficile que nous connaissons à de nombreux défis territoriaux, démographiques, économiques et culturels, où les territoires qui auront structuré et mis en cohérence leur aménagement et leurs infrastructures avec les usagers et les besoins de ceux qui y vivent (et qui pourraient y vivre à l’avenir), seront en mesure de préserver la qualité de leur cadre de vie, leur attractivité et leur rayonnement mais aussi la soutenabilité de leur développement pour les générations futures.

En l’occurrence, la principale qualité de cette exposition est de tenter de faire la synthèse des dix dernières années et de la décennie à venir en démontrant que les grandes mutations régionales à venir permettront à Orléans de devenir un pôle d’attractivité important où la qualité de l’offre et du cadre de vie sera considérablement renforcée.

Il est en effet important qu’Orléans puisse tirer parti de sa position stratégique qui la place au premier rang des villes qui composent le grand système métropolitain du Bassin parisien, tout en étant capitale de Région.

Cette double identité est un atout, c’est indéniable. Mais en même temps, il est complexe de trouver un juste équilibre entre les deux et de parvenir à les concilier, même avec un patrimoine aussi riche et une place dans l’histoire nationale aussi exceptionnelle. On peut avoir toutes les visions d’architectes, d’urbanistes, d’infrastructures et d’équipements projetées, il convient de ne pas oublier que c’est la place donnée aux femmes et aux hommes qui vivront le territoire et aux acteurs qui feront vivre le territoire qui doit être la donnée centrale : c’est l’art de vivre le territoire et d’y vivre qui seront le liant de tout. Les équipements et les infrastructures oui, mais sans l’humain et sans être à l’échelle de l’humain, de ses besoins et de ses potentiels, c’est Brazil, c’est Playtime !

C’est peut-être là aussi un des points faibles de l’exposition, à moins que cette fois-ci il s’agisse d’un processus plus pro-actif pour impliquer plus fortement les citoyens et les acteurs à la construction et à l’animation d’Orléans dans les années à venir, une base pour un mode plus collaboratif et coopératif en somme ?

Ce qui est certain c’est qu’à Orléans peut-être plus qu’ailleurs la logique d’aménagement et de rénovation du territoire urbain ne peut pas se contenter de s’inspirer de ce qui se fait ailleurs et de lui donner une couleur locale.

En l’occurrence, le tissu culturel au sens large (particulièrement dynamique à Orléans) est un atout considérable sur lequel il conviendrait de miser plus dans cette exposition mais surtout à l’avenir. On peut notamment regretter deux choses :

  • que l’accent ne soit pas suffisamment mis sur ce qui constitue au fond une véritable « rambla » sur le mail qui relie la gare au site de la future Arena ;
  • que la ZAC Carmes Madeleine ne mise pas encore suffisamment sur son potentiel de pôle culturel, éducatif et créatif. Sa situation et sa taille sont en effet idéales pour imaginer en plein cœur de ville une opération où l’économie de la culture, de la créativité, de l’innovation et de la connaissance peut exprimer tout son potentiel pour la ville et bien au-delà.

Heureusement, tout n’est pas encore programmé et figé pour l’avenir, des projets peuvent surgir et certains d’entre eux pourront très probablement y trouver leur place. C’est en tout cas ce que cette exposition permet d’espérer : la prospective territoriale se construit au présent, il faut en être les acteurs et quels que soient les mandats politiques et leur durée, elle n’est ni une route tout droite, ni un long fleuve tranquille.

L’exposition d’urbanisme Orléans en 2025 est conçue par la Mairie d’Orléans et est présentée au Musée des Beaux-Arts jusqu’au 10 février 2013.

Classé dans:Analyses, Evénements, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , , , , ,

Mythos Berlin – a London perspective

A city in a unrestrained process-like state, a world of a bit away of the usual progress-driven narrative

Even a simple question like ‘What is a city?’ triggers an endless cascade of new questions. A city can never have a singular objective identity, it has to live with the identities which are ascribed by its inhabitants. Berlin often is described as a city that just defines its era.

In terms of exploring the role and reputation of the city as a capital of contemporary cultural production certain words are recurring as soon as conversations in London and across Europe comes to Berlin: creative hub, low rents, bohemian life, searching and finding inspiration. That’s it? Wuppertal-born art collector Christian Boros notes: “Wuppertal is cheap too. It does not explain the fascination of Berlin.”

What makes Berlin THE city to live right now?

A Monument for Nonsense by J.Prezewowsky | © Swantje Diepenhorst

A Monument for Nonsense by J.Prezewowsky | © Swantje Diepenhorst

Thus there must be more. Boros says “the mythical status of Berlin is based on the fact that you have to fight with very few limitations. A lot is possible here. To feel free is very attractive and erotic.” Sexy Berlin mixed with imperfection, openess and curiosity – indeed that are already a few more unique qualities.

Opened by the Ambassador Georg Boomgaarden the exhibition “Mythos Berlin – a London perspective” started last week in the German Embassy at Belgrave Square. The artists in the exhibition include Erin Hughes & Jennifer Mustapha, Jan Kaesbach, Robert Rapoport, Daniel Udy and Viktor Timofeev shows examples of the influence that Berlin as a working place has on contemporary artists’ practice and lifestyle.

In the First Gallery Room there is a sculpture / installation with the title “Declarations – Monument for Nonsense” by Julia Prezewowsky. This artwork says, that it’s a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information. At least it’s branded with this statement. At first glance it doesn’t might be a compliment for Berlin, but actually it is – it suits to the very few limitations, Boros mentioned. It tells about the creative freedom people can find in Berlin.

Open spaces and gaps to fill

That's a very dark sky.. 'Cloudsync' by Viktor Timofeev (2012) | © S.D.

That’s a very dark sky.. ‘Cloudsync’ by Viktor Timofeev (2012) | © S.D.

Here are still open spaces, while in cities such as London or New York it is a lot more difficult to find gaps to fill. For Boros it is the work ofManfred Pernice that really reflects Berlin’s patchwork, crafty and process-like state. His work deals a lot with architecture – his cans and blocks reflect what is often called the ‘Verdosung’ / ‘containerisation’ of society.

During the past twenty years Berlin’s reputation in the world has changed immensely: from the scarred, divided and unsettled victim of Third Reich and Cold War politics to an iconic, vibrant and artistic metropole. A unrestrained, productive and social place to life. Like Susanna Davis-Crook, who left London not just for work but for cycling around and think, emigres to Berlin, particularly those from business capitals, escape their respective cities for the exemption from a world of progress-driven narrative. For Susanna ideas more easily become action in Berlin, where in London risk assessments take up more time than planning the show. This might be the fundamental difference between creativity in Berlin and in London.

We are constructing our version of city

From a London perspective.. | © Swantje Diepenhorst

From a London perspective.. | © Swantje Diepenhorst

At the end there are of course billions of views and none of the Berliners (or Londoners) live ‘in the same city’. What we all do is to construct our own versions, inventing a city that allows us to be ourselves (at best). We can do this because, as Jonathan Raban explained in his brilliant book Soft Cities back in 1974, cities are plastic by nature: ‘We mould them in our images: they, in their turn, shape us by the resistance they offer when we try to impose our own personal form on them.’ We’re all involved in this process, whether we are artists or not. Urban living is an artwork for itself, whether it is in Berlin or in London.

Source : Labkultur

Classé dans:Analyses, Evénements, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , , ,

La culture n’a pas de prix, mais elle a un coût !

Saviez-vous que les visites du patrimoine en France rapportaient 15 milliards d’euros à l’économie française chaque année? Peut-être pas et cela n’est guère étonnant : après trois ans d’expertise des retombées économiques des châteaux, monuments et évènements culturels, l’étude très officielle qui faisait état de ce chiffre a juste disparu, l’été dernier, du site officiel du ministère de la culture.

 

Que s’est-il passé?

Comme souvent, pour tout chiffrage conjuguant l’économie et la culture, les résultats de cette étude  ont dû « faire polémique », et la publication en ligne a été suspendue. Lors de nos conférences auprès des professionnels de la culture,  depuis deux ans,  les critiques fusaient lorsque j’en citais les résultats. « Sommes-nous devenus anglais pour que nous soyons ainsi obsédés par les résultats financiers de nos actions ? », me reprochait-on  avec gentillesse.

Et cette phobie des chiffres et d’un lien direct ou indirect avec l’économie ne concerne pas les seules retombées économiques. Les chiffres de la  fréquentation des sites culturels sont aussi très fantaisistes et pratiquement jamais à jour. La dépense publique culturelle n’est pas affichée, sauf par le biais de grandes « masses de crédits », sur le site officiel de son ministère ou pour les régions.

Bref, les français, à commencer par les acteurs de la culture, préfèrent la valeur immatérielle que nous pouvons retirer de la culture, soit l’éducation, le lien social, plutôt qu’un chiffrage précis: Combien avons-nous dépensé pour créer ce lien social ? , ou encore : Comment évaluer la différence entre les objectifs et les résultats obtenus pour chaque programme culturel? .Ces questions semblent encore hors de propos, et il n’est pas question de les intégrer dans la LOLF, Loi organique relative aux lois de finances du 2 août 2001.

Dernier exemple : la fréquentation d’un site culturel est-elle  jugée insuffisante, en regard des publics potentiels de proximité ou des touristes? Ce n’est pas grave, répond-on, C’est la qualité de la fréquentation qui compte, pas le quantitatif.

L’Intérêt Général comme critère de toute action culturelle

Comme l’Education nationale, la Culture s’est toujours appuyée sur des fondamentaux qui, s’ils paraissent étranges pour nombre de collègues étrangers, remontent historiquement à sa Révolution, et évoluent peu. L’Intérêt Général fait partie de ces basiques, né sous la Révolution (Intérêt commun) , puis rebaptisé sous Napoléon III.  Les termes furent alors utilisés pour justifier, a priori, l’expropriation  les terres nécessaires à la création de la forêt des Landes ; et l’Intérêt Général opposa en quelque sorte une priorité publique aux intérêts privés particuliers des propriétaires récalcitrants à vendre leurs terrains pour la bonne cause , celle du bien public. Peu à peu, l’Intérêt général , relativement « pratique », prit une  valeur juridique dans l’ensemble de l’action publique.

Aujourd’hui cet idéal est toujours vaillant, ayant force d’outil valable pour renforcer la « cohésion nationale », le lien social,  comme l’a rappelé la nouvelle ministre de la culture dès sa nomination. Même si par ailleurs, et, il faut le déplorer, les chiffres de la « démocratisation culturelle » sont en baisse régulière, en France, quelque soit la dépense ou la gratuité des sites.

…Et les publics français comme horizon de la transmission

La médiation culturelle, les actions de sensibilisation, la transmission des savoirs…Le « Public de proximité » est à peu près le seul concerné pour  l’accompagnement de son parcours de visite, et 99% des professionnels, mais aussi des subventions, des formations culturelles sont dédiées à cette cible des publics de  proximité. Qu’il soit prioritaire est une évidence, puisque les collectivités territoriales financent la plupart des aides et de l’accompagnement grâce aux impôts des habitants. Mais qu’une sorte d’exclusivité des publics de proximité existe en France est aussi l’une de nos « exceptions» qui handicape lourdement l’étude et l’amélioration de nos site culturels.

L’exemple du tourisme culturel

Pour mesurer ce handicap, le traitement réservé au tourisme culturel est intéressant. :

  • Pas un seul emploi n’est dédié à cette thématique au ministère de la culture (Plus de 30 000 emplois), pas un centre de ressource, pas d’ingénierie, bref, un total désert de compétences pour une industrie qui représente a minima  6% du PIB du Pays. On sait pour tant que 80% des motivations des touristes étrangers, pour la visite de la France, proviennent de l’image culturelle de notre pays ;
  • L’Enquête sur les Pratiques Culturelles, créée depuis les années 80 et renouvelée chaque année, n’a concerné que les seuls publics français, alors que la plupart des musées et des monuments, mais aussi les grands festivals ou Biennales d’art ont une forte majorité de publics touristiques,  dont 40% de touristes étrangers.

Se priver de la majorité des visiteurs dans les études de fréquentation est tout de même  étrange. Comment faire des progrès lorsque l’on ignore les profils, les comportements, les attentes et les provenances des visiteurs ?

Une embellie ?

Ces dernières années –  et le Forum d’Avignon, avec ses objectifs, ses débats, ses ambassadeurs, la qualité des études mises en ligne y est pour beaucoup, – les rapports conflictuels entre Economie et Culture se sont améliorés.

Les causes en sont multiples (Impact de la crise financière ; renouvellement générationnel ; nouveaux impératifs de politiques plus redistributives…)  mais les signes d’une renaissance sont là, avec  :

  • Un retour en force de l’évaluation ;
  • De nouveaux champs d’études passionnent les acteurs de l’administration culturelle, à commencer par l’influence et les usages du numérique dans le champ culturel ;
  • Des régions, des Villes ont adhéré au schéma de conception et d’organisation des Creative Cities et des régions créatives,  comme la région Rhône-Alpes, le Grand Lyon ou les départements de la région Midi-Pyrénées. La Ville de Nantes a aussi fusionné, début 2011, ses deux Services « Culture et Tourisme », en créant le Voyage à Nantes, à la fois dédié aux nantais et aux habitants du monde entier.
  • Les pratiques collaboratives et participatives – retours d’expériences ; avis sur les réseaux sociaux, intelligence collective pour la Recherche…- mettent à mal les hiérarchies pyramidales de la décision, au profit de regards pluridisciplinaires ;  la Culture, dans cet échange de compétences, accorde moins d’importance au clivage historique » secteur public/secteur privé  et celui des entreprises ».

Notre pays est donc sur la bonne route, celle qui rejoindra le concert des pays du monde entier, pour répondre à cette passionnante question que se pose tout visiteur, français mais aussi étranger,  au seuil de sa visite d’un site culturel « Que dois-je comprendre ? ».

Evelyne Lehalle*

Article publié pour le Forum d’Avignon 2012, cliquez ici.

*Evelyne Lehalle est membre historique de Cultural Engineering Group. Consultante senior spécialisée dans les instituions muséales, les stratégies culturelles et touristiques, dont le parcours est particulièrement riche, Evelyne Lehalle a notamment été responsable culture d’Odit France (aujourd’hui Atout France), responsable à la direction des musées de France et au ministère de la culture, responsable à la direction des musées de la Ville de Marseille. Elle dirige depuis 2009 Nouveau Tourisme Culturel, dont le blog est également partenaire de Cultural Engineering Group.

Du même auteur :

Retrouvez également toutes les contributions d’Evelyne Lehalle sur son blog Nouveau Tourisme Culturel.

Classé dans:Analyses, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , ,

L’après Maribor 2012 en question

Maribor est capitale européenne de la culture 2012 depuis près de six mois. Si le programme se déroule bien, les projets architecturaux annoncés comme visionnaires ont toutefois fini en queue de poisson, estime le quotidien conservateur Večer : « On disait en 2009 que la ville était à l’aube d’une des plus grandes phases de développement de son histoire. La ville mais aussi les grands entrepreneurs avaient de grandes idées. La liste des projets de construction était longue, les montants des investissements atteignaient des sommets. … Mais le plan de la ville, à savoir obtenir des fonds publics pour ce poker architectural, n’a pas fonctionné. Il restera de beaux souvenirs de la capitale de la culture, mais Maribor ne connaîtra pas les développements durables annoncés. Ce n’est peut-être pas plus mal, car toutes les promesses, la mise en œuvre des projets, l’entretien et les frais de personnel auraient ruiné la ville. »

Source : BPBC

Classé dans:Analyses, Evénements, Financement de projet, , ,

Center for world culture

It will capture millions of imaginations. Starting with yours.

A SYMBOL OF PRIDE, A SPARK OF INNOVATION

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is a dynamic and state-of-the-art institution that inspires a passion for learning, creativity, volunteerism and cross-cultural engagement. The Center is the result of a monumental, forward-thinking Saudi Aramco initiative that exemplifies the company’s commitment to the Kingdom and its communities. Dedicated to honouring Arab heritage, connecting Saudis to their culture and bringing world cultures to the Kingdom, the Center aspires to be a powerful stimulus for developing new ideas, perspectives and relationships. The Center is being constructed atop the oil-rich Dammam Dome, making it both a national landmark that commemorates Saudi Arabia’s first discovery of oil and a leading educational and cultural institution. The Center will open to the public in 2012 with a full schedule of exhibits, programs and events.

PURPOSE AND VISION

The Center will offer an array of exhibits, events and learning tools that engage and educate students, adults and scholars. Individually, these experiences will enable visitors to develop their potential as human beings; collectively, they will help Saudi society to succeed in an increasingly globalized world. By educating visitors about yesterday’s challenges and achievements, and exciting them about tomorrow’s possibilities, the Center will enrich lives and accelerate future accomplishments.

Source : Saudi Aramco

Classé dans:Evénements, , , , ,

Culture and the financial crisis : maintain or weaken the status quo?

election posters in france (c) Joe Shlabotnik Flickr

Within the last few years, national policy has deteriorated due to budget cuts, and the “General Restructuring of Policies and Administration” (RGPP – Révision Générale des Politiques Publiques)which was implemented in 2007 led to a certain reduction regarding the scope of action for the ministry of culture.

The three competence levels (cities, Departements, regions) try to pursue courageous cultural political objectives, although their intense dedication is curbed by a decreasing national commitment. That means financial losses for the municipalities beyond the French « AAA loss » – they will be forced to reduce their cultural investments, being subject to the debt brake – and this has direct consequences for the field of culture.

The crisis has also an impact on the French municipalities, although their situation is hardly comparable to that in Southern European countries, with the example of Barcelona and the independent Spanish regions being the most significant ones. We observe that other European countries with less developed structures regarding politics, administrations, and investments from the private sector, are also in an awkward position due to the decline of these investments – Great Britain and The Netherlands are epitomes of that.

We hope that the cultural sector – be it on a local or national level – will not be the first one to fall victim to the crisis, given the economical and social situation in various European countries. And there is also the question and the fear what will happen with the commission’s suggestions regarding the agenda 2014-2020? Will the programme maintain all its ambitious objectives without suffering any losses by budget cuts which are arranged jointly by the European council and the parliament?

The election campaign 2012: a promise without a future?

It is justified to ask the question which role the topic of culture will play during the election campaign given the ever-present economical issues – you will find out that culture does not play a too important role on the list of electoral issues. The first electoral statements were made in Avignon on July 16, 2011 in the forum of the daily newspaper « Libération » where several representatives of various parties could have their say. Now, the public election campaign has started, and the speeches delivered by Nicolas Sarkozy on January 26 in Marseille and by François Hollande on January 19 at the BIS-culture exhibition in Nantes revealed first perspectives on the culture programme of the future and possible candidates.

But now, the actual election campaign has to begin in order to obtain more precise propositions. You can observe a great discrepancy regarding the copy rights in e-business and regarding the fate of the Hadopi law [illegal downloads lead to copy right infringements and are therefore prosecuted]. These issues which are red-hot again, especially after the shutdown of the MEGAUPLOAD website, could keep the politicians busy until the election. According the socialist candidate, there is a tendency towards a new legal basis without making any budget increases (orientation law regarding the performing arts, a possible return to 5,5% VAT for cultural goods…) in order to « seal the second act of France’s exceptional cultural position. »

In general, you can observe a lot of weak points in the political speeches when it comes to the position and role of the internet with regards to future cultural political measures, as well in terms of the development of new paradigms as in terms of new economical models. The future culture budget still belongs to the big secrets of the election campaign, in spite of the mutual affirmations which promise a certain inviolability of this budget.

It is obvious that the economical and financial crisis has an impact on the extent of political measures and on the determination of the politicians. Because the municipalities and especially the regions are affected by these limitations there is  less and less hope for a possible social and economical contribution they could produce.

Finally, the absence of any considerations, ideas, or suggestions concerning Europe also has to be mentioned here. No studies regarding the programme 2014-2020 have been developed, nor any perspective for the 2020 strategy. This year, the election campaign is all about French topics – although in the meantime, there are many challenges to be faced on a European level.

ROGER TROPEANO is Chairman of Les Rencontres

Source : 2010LAB.TV

Classé dans:Analyses, Gouvernances, Politiques culturelles, , , , , ,

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / Final

We are honoured and deligheted to publish Dr Roberta Comunian’s* last article engaging with the current research and debate about the creative city and the importance of cultural infrastructure in contemporary cities. It argues that much of the focus has been around the investment of cities in specific regeneration projects or flagship developments rather than addressing the nature of the infrastructures, networks and agents engaging in the city’s cultural development. The complexity theory and its associated principles can provide a new understanding of the connection between the urban space and the systems of local cultural production and consumption. Drawing on interviews with creative practitioners in the North East region of England, the paper argues that the cultural development of a city is a complex adaptive system. This finding has implication both for policy makers and academic research. It emphases the importance of micro-interactions and network between creative practitioners, the publicly supported cultural sector and the cultural infrastructure of the city.

6. Conclusions: rethinking the creative city

How can complexity theory help us rethink the structures and potential of the concept of the creative city? First, complexity interaction imposes a new way of looking at how local contexts and the cultural agents and actors of the city interact. It suggests that in order to evaluate or research the creative city, a multi-level approach must be kept in mind, to allow consideration of how different actors and institutions interact in the city.  The literature suggests that the creative industries have been characterised as “having a ‘hive mentality’, informally networked ‘scenes’ which can operate very effectively in some ways. But in others the very informality can be problematic in terms of policy development” (O’Connor, 2002, p.28). Much of the regeneration literature and policy action towards the creative city have been focussed on formal investments, large cultural flagship projects, and image. On the contrary, networks seem to be central to the delivery of a better and more sustainable support system which answers the needs of creative industries. However it also important not to limit support to the mainstream, established networks. and also support the more hidden or transient ones, as these can provide the vital first steps into the sector. For example, in the North East, along with supporting established organisation like New Writing North it is important to support smaller local networks of writers or people interested in literature, as in the case of the The Blue Room [i], where interaction occurs on a wider social level without implying any strong commitment.

Culture North East (2001) states in the Regional Cultural Strategy for the North East of England “the regional cultural strategy calls for agencies supporting the sector to be entrepreneurial and opportunistic in their approach, to help create an environment where there is serious investment in innovation and risk taking at the grass roots level, which supports a continuum from cultural activity to commercial activity and retains talent in the region” (p.27). The opposition between large capital investments in the region and support for local networks can become a challenge. Sometimes it possible to see that public money is more easily directed towards large institutions or infrastructures while networks represent a soft infrastructure which is difficult to define and to invest in.

This paper has attempted to use complexity theory to highlight some of the dynamics in the creative economy of a city against a common tendency towards reductionism, where the creative economy discourse is used as a mathematical formula which can be applied to all contexts and times. The arguments presented suggest that we should consider the creative and cultural factor as constitutive and grounded in the urban context rather than simply instrumentally additive to other urban discourses of economic growth.  Also, Ormerod (1998) argues the need for a less mechanistic approach to the study of economic phenomena: “Economies and societies are not machines. They are more like living organisms. Individuals do not act in isolation, but affect each other in complex ways” (Ormerod, 1998: x). As Landry (2000) recognises “successful cities seem to have some things in common – visionary individuals, creative organisations and a political culture sharing a clarity of purpose. They seemed to follow a determined, not a deterministic path”  (Landry, 2000, p.3).

New understandings of the dynamics of the creative economy need to be implemented. This new approach must bridge the gap between the top-down approach of policy making and investment in the cultural infrastructure of a city, with a grounded understanding of the emergent structures arising from actors and agencies interacting in the sector. As Green (2001) underlines the challenging aspect  of complexity theory when applied to social systems is that instead of seeing how a social system changes as being a function of how it is, it clearly acknowledges that how it changes – even those small little changes at the grassroots level – affects how it is, and how it subsequently change again. This should be the new challenge for researchers wanting to investigate the role of culture in urban environments.


[i] The Blue Room is a project supported by the Arts Council North East with the aim to “encourage new women – and men – writers to read their work, and promoting new audiences for live poetry and prose”  (from the website www.blueroom.org.uk) and consists of a serial of monthly informal events taking place in a local pub / venue.

_____

*Dr. Roberta Comunian is Creative Industries Research Associate at the School of Arts, University of Kent. Prior to this, she was lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness. She has been visiting researcher at University of Newcastle investigating the relationship between creative industries, cultural policy and public supported art institutions. She has previously undertaken research on knowledge transfer and creative industries within an AHRC Impact Fellowship award at the University of Leeds.

_________________

Previous chapters :

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 1

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 2

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 3

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 4

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 5

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 6

Classé dans:Analyses, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , , , ,

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 6

We are honoured and deligheted to publish Dr Roberta Comunian’s* last article engaging with the current research and debate about the creative city and the importance of cultural infrastructure in contemporary cities. It argues that much of the focus has been around the investment of cities in specific regeneration projects or flagship developments rather than addressing the nature of the infrastructures, networks and agents engaging in the city’s cultural development. The complexity theory and its associated principles can provide a new understanding of the connection between the urban space and the systems of local cultural production and consumption. Drawing on interviews with creative practitioners in the North East region of England, the paper argues that the cultural development of a city is a complex adaptive system. This finding has implication both for policy makers and academic research. It emphases the importance of micro-interactions and network between creative practitioners, the publicly supported cultural sector and the cultural infrastructure of the city.

5.3 Connectivity, interdependence and self-organisation.

A complex system is characterized by interaction and inter-connectivity of the agents of the system and between the system as a whole and its environment. The level of interaction generates the complexity. If one looks at the culture offered by a city, it is easy to see how different organisations build partnerships and collaborate on events and projects. The private and public sectors often come together, and the connectivity in the contemporary art and cultural scene arises from the overlapping and exchange between different art forms. One element that is perceived as a key factor for the development of this connectivity in the context of Newcastle-Gateshead has been the joint bid for the Capital of Culture title. Although the title was eventually awarded to Liverpool, the process behind the joint bid started to build dialogue between different organisations, and fostered a new ability to work together. Matarasso (2000) stresses the importance of the bidding process itself, specifically referring to Newcastle-Gateshead. It promoted the debate on the importance of culture; it encouraged the networking of cultural institutions, created partnerships and common goals and provided a strong experience in terms of acquiring competences for cultural planning and management which is long-lasting legacy in the urban context.

In the first 18 months I was here we worked in shared public projects with almost every cultural organisation in the city it was a very deliberate policy, we also opened the building to creative people, young people in the region, people who had no real access to other venues […] the first people were not filmmakers but DJs, poets, people working at the fringe of this medium (Director, Public Cultural Organisation, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

But the connectivity and interdependence runs not only at the macro-level of agencies and institutions, but also at the micro-level in the creation of networks between creative and cultural practitioners (see paragraph 5.5). Responding to emergent properties or to particular innovative and enabling contexts, a complex cultural system can experience self-organisation. In the context of cultural and creative practitioners, self-organisation seems to be a common trend. In particular through collectives of artists, voluntary run spaces and galleries, but also through networks which are run organically and developed from the grassroots by artists (see paragraph 5.5)

 

5.4 Emergent properties, qualities, patterns or structures.

One of the complexity aspects which also characterized the creative and cultural infrastructure of the city, is the emergence of specific structure that regulate and inform the environment.

These emerging structures can be identified with creative clusters (Pratt, 2004) and the development of organic and institutional networks to support and govern the cultural actors and their agencies.

The fast growth of the sector as a whole can be seen as an emergence pattern: “The North East has grown faster than any other region except Scotland, but from a lower base than any other region” (CURDS, 2001, p.23). As Allen (1997) suggests these emerging structures are not determined uniquely by the context and its parameters, but are also dependent on timing and specific external intervention. This is where the public cultural policy seems to play a role in the complex development of a creative economy (Hesmondhalgh, 2005; Pratt, 2005). Nevertheless, this intervention can only provide non-linear impacts on the context. As Allen (1997) suggests in terms of the traditional beliefs in planning, the concept of what policy can or should do needs to be completely revisited.

Feedback is one central element of all the aspects and dynamics of a system. It can be read both as positive or negative feedback mechanisms that regulate the stability of the system. If we look at the cultural infrastructure of an urban context, there are many feedback mechanisms at various levels. For certain elements and commercial aspects the market represents feedback regulating production and consumption. In the cultural economy feedback is also provided by a variety of gatekeepers (Caves, 2000) and mediators (Albertsen and Diken, 2003) which regulate the access to the production facilities, even though the new technologies seem to have weakened the strength of formal gatekeepers providing direct access to audiences and markets.

There are a number of institutional organisations which provide feedback on the creative economy, and public policy and public funding appear to be a strong reinforcement

I felt the big thing we were getting from the Arts Council for the gallery business was their experience of similar ventures, it was almost like a vote of confidence, if they were willing to invest some funding it meant that we are heading down the right track, you never really know, it was reassuring to hear that (Commercial Art Gallery, Northumberland)

Nevertheless, peer-to-peer support and review seem to also be an important structure for the development of innovation. “The learning and innovation capacity of CI businesses depends to a high degree on the wider learning and innovation capacity of these surrounding networks” (O’Connor, 2002, p.9).

5.5  Networks as emergent properties or frameworks for public policy

A large part of the literature relating to clusters and regional economic development suggests the importance of networks (Christopherson, 2002; Coe, 2000; Crewe, 1996; Ettlinger, 2003; Gordon and McCann, 2000; Grabher, 2002; Johns, 2006; Knox et al., 2005; Meusburger, 2000; Mossig, 2004; Neff, 2004; Sturgeon, 2003) and these arguments have been, on various occasions, interconnected with the urban cultural infrastructure through terms such as cultural quarters or cultural milieu. Although in the economic argument networks are important mainly in terms of inter-firm trade, the creative industries seem to rely on networks for other aspects as well. The network structure in the creative and cultural industries seems to provide access to the market, but also to support the exchange of ideas and social interaction that is instrumental to the development of their work. Artists and craft makers rely on the network as a market building strategy and as a marketing strategy in itself. One example, in the context of the North East, is Designed and Made, which promotes designers and makers in the region and helps them to establish a brand and a way to promote their work and their practice.

I think it is really important for the North East to show that this kind of work exists in the region, that there is work here which is pushing the boundaries, and unless you have something like Designed & Made, other regions, and the rest of the UK and the world won’t know about the North East and what is going on here (Designer and Maker, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

Another example is Network Artists. Artists use the network to promote their practice and through the open studios Art Tour project they even get direct access to the market to sell their work. Cohesion, the glass artists’ network started by the local authority of Sunderland, has a specific focus on promoting the market for glass art and does so by specifically investing in exhibitions and the participation of artists in art fairs.

Networks are emergent structures which function in terms of support for creative practitioners. Another useful dimension of the network is the support that people get out of it. On one hand it may be moral and psychological support, which as suggested by a jewellery maker, is often a response to the isolated work of the artists / makers.

On the personal level it was really good for me because I was new to the region and I did not know many people so I found it quite a life-line because it got me involved with the artistic community and it made me feel part of something […] I think it is really important because as an artist/designer people work on their own and feeling quite isolated, it makes you feel there is other people out there that you can share experiences with, you get ideas bouncing ideas to people, it just helps” (Designer and Maker, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

Creative industries hardly identify themselves with the mainstream business support offered by local agencies. On the contrary, they believe that the best people to provide support or business advice are the people who work in the same sector or have experience in their field; therefore the peer–to-peer support through formal and informal networks seem to be a means to create the personal support infrastructure which a creative practitioner needs.

The most important thing is mixing with other people, you can make do without all the services provided and business advice but the most valuable information comes from other people doing the same things as you who are a year or two years further down the line and can remember how it is like to be in your position but they worked through those problems and they can advise you on how to do things (Jewellery Designer and Maker, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

Creative industries tend to rely on different types of networks. Although they would attend events and be within the network of specific formal organisations, they also have a smaller network of peers with which they talk more often and from whom they would seek advice.

It seems that sometimes formal networks are considered useful but impersonal and too structured; they are more like professional development organisations than actual networks. As Kauffman (1993) suggests in reference to biological systems “ecosystems are not totally connected. Typically each species interacts with a subset of the total numbers of other species; hence the system has some extended web structure » (Kauffman 1993, p.255). One element which seems central is the social dimension of the network and the type of bond and experience that holds people together. In this respect, it is often the case that within large formal networks people form smaller and closer social networks.  “Connectivity between individuals or groups is not a constant or uniform relationship, but varies over time, and with the diversity, density, intensity and quality of interactions between human agents” (Mitleton-Kelly, 2003, p.6). As an artist who started a network in the Newcastle area suggested:

I thought the network would grow and become more established, but it remained quite organic and it is made by how much people want to interact with it. It is very organic, in this sense because, as a living organism, sometime it is very active and lots of things go on, some other times it is more quite and slow but this is how it should be because it is organic and it follows the will of people to interact with it (Visual artists network manager)

The emergence of organic networks alongside institutional ones presents some critical challenges. In fact, institutional networks seem to force the social networking, while in the organic networks the social aspects are spontaneous. Furthermore, as an artist suggests, organic networks seem to respond more directly to the need of the people involved in the sector, 

Yes it is very important, because it is artist-led we are making it what we need, we know what we need and we are making it that, coming from us it is going to be more relevant than if it was coming from people in the public sector, who have the best intentions but they do not work in the sector and they do not exactly what we need (Glass artist, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

Although networking is often considered part of business practice, people working in the creative industries do not always perceive the need to network as part of their business development. The traditional idea of networking is often considered conventional, and frequently implies mixing with people from very different contexts or business sectors, thus making it seem irrelevant. Conversely, the social dimension, and the trust relationship which can be built (Banks et al., 2000) are perceived as very important for the person and their work. Therefore, networking often takes place informally and as part of normal social interactions, such as sharing common spaces, meeting down at the pub etc.

it was a voluntary organisation, it was founded by two writers and had come from grassroots level, we used to have a meeting once a month, we would have a speaker in and then go down to the pub, it was fantastic, then when Northern Arts decided to have a new full-time officer, a professional came in […] it seems to me that everything now is so much more formal rather than informal, that kind of social network disappeared (Freelance scriptwriter, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

As suggested by O’Connor (2002) “these networks are underpinned by infrastructures of knowledge and expertise which do have formal, institutional dimensions, but equally are embedded in more amorphous social and cultural infrastructures – described as ‘soft infrastructure’, or ‘critical infrastructure’, or ‘creative infrastructure’. These last terms concern those informal networks, those place specific cultural propensities, those ‘structures of feeling’ which are very difficult to grasp, let alone strategically direct, but which nonetheless are crucial to the urban regional ‘innovative milieu’” (p.27).

 

5.6 Networks and support to the creative economy: new planning for the creative city

Considering the general use of the local networks of local creative industries it could be argued that supporting different networks and communicating through them could provide an effective structure for support. In fact, if we think about the development of some formal and informal networks in the North East, it seems clear that public policy and funding have considered them a strategic way to support and sustain the sector.

Some examples of this would be the Cohesion glass artists network, started by the Sunderland City Council, Designed and Made, started organically by a group of artists and makers and than supported by public funding from the Arts Council of England North East, the Aurora Project (a development network for arts and crafts) supported by Northumberland County Council and European Regional Development Funding, and New Writing North, which started organically, and was then institutionalised and supported by the Arts Council North East, and has become the writing development agency for the North East of England. The public sector sees these networks as a useful support infrastructure for a number of reasons. First, it allows the public sector to delivery information and support to different people by supporting one organisation. It is an efficient way to spread relevant information, organise meetings and seminars and involve the larger sector. Secondly, it creates a critical mass for people coming from the outside and looking for information or deciding whether to start up in a specific sector. It presents the region as a place where creative people are sharing knowledge and are supporting each other. Lastly, it makes public investments more sustainable: instead of investing in one single person the sector can present its investment as sustaining the whole sector. It is an efficient and effective way to promote the regional creative industries to the outside, presenting strength and the potential for further development. However this public support has also caused some undesirable side effects. On one hand it makes the network much more institutionalised and bureaucratic. In fact, if we consider how much interaction, support and participation come from social networks, turning them into public support organisation to deliver specific outcomes can be risky, and can change the nature and quality of the network itself. Another problem is the thinking that the network encompasses the whole sector and all of its actors. Because there is a network of artists or designers, the public sector tends to invest in the network and support it. The risk is that people who do not want to take part in the network, or simply do not fall into the remit of a specific network feel like outsiders, cut off from the possibility of further interaction.

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*Dr. Roberta Comunian is Creative Industries Research Associate at the School of Arts, University of Kent. Prior to this, she was lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness. She has been visiting researcher at University of Newcastle investigating the relationship between creative industries, cultural policy and public supported art institutions. She has previously undertaken research on knowledge transfer and creative industries within an AHRC Impact Fellowship award at the University of Leeds.

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Previous chapters :

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 1

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 2

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 3

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 4

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 5

 

 

 

 

Classé dans:Analyses, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , , , ,

THE VITALITY INDEX™ Ranking of 35 U.S. Cities Executive Report

WHAT IT IS

The Vitality Index™ is a cultural impact study that models the human experience of the city at its heart.  In practice, it is a ranking and assessment which applies the same level of rigor to qualitative factors as it does quantitative ones.  It brings to life a city’s human strengths as it respects its complexities: a vibrant downtown, an engaged populace, educational opportunity, economic sustainability, good transport, diversity of population and opportunity, and a citizenry that embraces its history and culture.

This VI ranking is composed of data on both quantitative and qualitative factors – through cultural and demographic research, online surveys with citizens and questionnaires to city officials – to analyze and assess each city’s assets and what is distinctive and interesting about it.  Rather than focusing on what doesn’t work, the VI emphasizes what does.  We wanted to know what residents liked and felt was “special” about their community.  The Index serves as a tool to translate residents’ desires into civic action, in the tradition of urban sociologist William Whyte.  Using data garnered from surveys and direct mail, the VI is a unique instrument to gauge civic vitality.  We want to understand the relationship of how people actually live and participate in a city as crucial to its greatness.

Our objective is to reflect a sense of the city from the perspective of the people who live there, the “inner tourists” who are the first and most important actors in any city’s present and future.  Their commitment, loyalty, and participation in all aspects of urban living hold the key to a city’s future sustainability.  Their appreciation or dissatisfaction with their city will greatly determine the level of interest or attraction the city holds for visitors looking for places to travel and for businesses looking to invest.

WHAT WE LOOKED FOR AND WHAT WE FOUND

Small Things Matter: These are the experiences that create the texture of daily life and come to form the feel of the city.  We wanted to know more about how people really used their city.  We added to our online survey measuring what people liked and what they thought would attract people to their city an open ended question:  What are your three favorite places and why? in order to hear from them directly about where they go, what they do, and what they value in their city.

Bottom Up:  We looked for people-oriented projects and initiatives that were embraced by city government, i.e. plans to revitalize downtown growth and density, fund public art, improve public transportation, build on neighborhood initiatives, support community aspirations, or sometimes where citizens managed to do it themselves.

“Fayetteville Street:  Reborn from a dead pedestrian mall just a few years ago.”  (Raleigh)  “Guadalupe River Park, with a great potential to connect our city to perhaps the only natural asset in our urban area.”  (San Jose)  “…once a shopping area for the well to do, the area [NE Columbus] fell into disrepair in the ‘90s and has been ‘repurposed’ by various different immigrant communities.  Great food, great cross-cultural experiences.  (Columbus)

Public Access:  It is not surprising that where there are interesting things to do in a city, e.g. rivers, parks, lively neighborhoods, arts activities and events, people want access  to them.  Here we valued – because participants did – both the quality of the public spaces and events, and the public’s access to them.

“Olympic Sculpture Park-a beautiful marriage of nature and art, at a huge scale, right on our most beautiful natural asset, the waterfront!”  (Seattle)  “I’d go to a lot more events there [Ohio Theatre] if the rest of downtown weren’t so desolate at night.”  (Columbus)  “Miami Design District/Wynwood since these areas provide great support an accessibility for arts and culture)  (Miami)  “Founder’s Hall – a great gathering space”  (Philadelphia)  “lakefront-it’s uniquely ours’  (Chicago)

Parks, Public Spaces, Waterfronts:  These need their own category because in nearly every city, residents in 27 of the 35 cities we studied, or 77%, rate them second only to the arts in what they like most about their city.  Parks are particularly important as a way to relax yet still be around people in the midst of the city.  For example:

“Springwater Trail [and] Mt. Tabor Park.  Why?  Fairly distinctive places, lots of energy due to lots of people.”  (Portland)  “Guthrie/riverfront, both the cultural opportunities and the beauty” (Minneapolis)  “public parks because of there are wonderful opportunities for recreation”  (Phoenix)  “Central Park for giving New Yorkers a backyard to play in”  (New York City)  “Wade Oval: especially “parade the circle” event, location of Ingenuity Festival”  (Cleveland)

Cultural institutions: All the cities we studied are rich in cultural resources, which citizens value.  We noted a tendency for older residents to value institutional culture more than younger ones who valued outdoor assets for recreation, art galleries, and those activities that can sometimes include both such as art walks.

Desire for Connection/Street Life:  It sounds like an oversimplification but needs stating:  People generally like to be with each other and want places where they can get together, whether public plazas, streets, cafes, restaurants, art festivals, etc.  They find ways to create community even when cities do not make that easy.  Where good public transportation is not readily available they are willing to “drive to walk” in parks or livelier neighborhoods than their own.  We noted especially when residents commented that the city had made attempts to help them make connections either with better transportation like the new streetcar in Atlanta or by joining up cultural assets like the River Walk in San Antonio or the Plaza District in Oklahoma City.

“Downtown cultural district; very vibrant and affordable”  (Pittsburgh)  “The Central West End and the Delmar Loop are two great neighborhoods and remind me of what downtown could become”  (St Louis)  “Echo Park, Silver Lake, Downtown.  They feel like actual neighborhoods, with places I like to go and people I know or might want to know.”  (Los Angeles)

Sense of Place:  We noted where residents showed particular enthusiasm for their city, its assets, and its story, e.g.  Jacksonville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Detroit.  They note their history but also how their cities maintain a feeling of authenticity:

“independent local restaurants” as opposed to chains (Indianapolis), “small local businesses” (Riverside, Jacksonville), “no other neighborhood better tells the story of this city” (Old North St. Louis),  “great market and great place to see neighbors and other Detroiters” (Eastern Market, Detroit)  “there are so many little [independent] coffee shops, each with their own ambience, regulars and charm” (Minneapolis)  “Regent Square – variety of shops and restaurants that attract people but does not lose its neighborhood feel”  (Pittsburgh)  “Downtown…the growth is exciting.”  (Tulsa)  “Silverlake sunset junction area for its neighborhood feel and an active commercial area that has remained independent and lively”  (Los Angeles)

Lively Neighborhoods and Rubbing Shoulders:  Respondents placed a strong emphasis on lively and authentic neighborhoods, those that had the feel of a “real city.”  They are willing to drive distances to reach them for their energy and variety of people.  These are sometimes designated art districts but also places where the arts have emerged spontaneously bringing with them restaurants, bars etc.  Respondents note the energy and diversity they find there in people and activities:

“It’s great to see more activity and people living downtown.” (Kansas City)  “So much going on steps from my home.” (Downtown, Memphis)  “Midtown Market…it helped integrate the many cultures who live, work, and enjoy that part of town.” (Minneapolis)  “Harvard Square for the access to free lectures and other opportunities to learn.”  (Boston/Cambridge)

“Downtown (anywhere) because it is walkable and because food and entertainment are easily accessible.”  (Raleigh)  “Capitol Hill-It feels urban, there are people walking at night, businesses are open, it is lively.”  (Seattle)  “Sugarhouse has a happening local scene although it has diminished since a large block was torn down”  (Salt Lake City)  “Cherry Street-unique bars and restaurants, great farmer’s market in the summer”  (Tulsa)  “Common Market-sense of community among patrons”  (Charlotte)

Joint Cultural/Community Projects:  This rated high from respondents in about half the cities we studied.  It seemed surprising at first that what seemed like the most elusive and complex choice to achieve for “what would make your city better” was so popular.   This could mean that citizens believe that a “joined-up” approach would better serve the city as a whole because they have seen such projects already at work or that they share a sense that partnerships provide better benefits as a whole.  Perhaps cultural institutions might strive to be more visible in their communities or share resources with other non-profits in innovative and creative ways.

“LACMA because it is the people’s museum, although sometimes they forget.”  (Los Angeles)  “Harwelden Mansion, a great English gothic mansion near downtown, now home to the Arts and Humanities of Tulsa”  (Tulsa)  (Pinball Hall of Fame, one of the largest collections of functioning pinball machines in the world.  It’s a non-profit that gives most of its proceeds to charity”  (Las Vegas)  “Mint Museum Uptown – cultural activities, free concerts, interesting collection of exhibits, good for tourists”  (Charlotte)

It’s Not About the Buildings:  People do comment on good architecture in their cities but not nearly as much as we might expect.  Their overwhelming connection is to natural assets where they are in abundance (Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Portland, for example) and to public spaces where they can meet up, e.g. parks, or enjoy the feel of urban density, lively neighborhoods.  When they do make mention of buildings, those places primarily house the arts.

The Unexpected:  Great cities have a sense of the unexpected.  Great cities have a sense of the unexpected. People voice their pleasure at finding the new and undiscovered: a great bakery or cafe, a club. art gallery, or an exciting neighborhood that seems to be the result of spontaneous combustion. These “events” need room to happen.

“Ludivine because they integrate local farmers into all of their food and no one would expect it to be in OKC.” —Oklahoma City

“Cherokee Street – an unstable coalition of Mexican immigrants, anarchists, and artists that has managed to revive a once forgotten commercial strip.”—St. Louis

“Area Fifteen – An old warehouse that has been converted to an arts and small business incubator.” —Charlotte

“…the Beat Coffeehouse which is an independent cafe that recently opened…” —Las Vegas

“Big Truck Tacos – best burrito in the city, and open late.” —Oklahoma City

 

THE RANKING

Good Messiness at The Top  

The vitality of a creative city distinguishes it from just any urban environment.  The exemplar creative city is full of energy, opportunities and interesting people combined with a bit of edginess.  That creative tension, which is the result of an entrepreneurial spirit combined with restless talent wanting the city to be more remarkable or provide better outlets for their ideas and energy equals what we call “good messiness.”  It is the energy we find in exciting places that is difficult to define but immediately felt.  (And just as readily felt when it isn’t there.)

Good messiness depends, however, on many of the factors in the quantitative side of this index.  Safe streets and economic stability, a sound infrastructure of good transportation, education, and healthcare all make it possible to have good messiness and not bad.  This is the environment in which new ideas and businesses, culture and commerce can thrive.

It is not surprising then that the cities that ranked high did so.  The assets of New York, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles are well established both economically and culturally.  They are in flux, which is a good thing, buoyed by changing economic forces and migrations of residents in and out of the city, leading to a kind of instability that is creative and dynamic.  They are cities with a rich past and a powerful present.  But no city can assume that its present will be its future without attention to many of the factors we assessed in this ranking.

THE SPECIFIC AND UNIQUE

All cities have something wonderful about them.  But great cities big or small are open to ideas from anywhere.  They make room for spontaneity.  They are receptive to the best talents wherever those may come from, which in turn fosters creativity and innovation.  When they are on the rise, tradition and new ideas interact.  We want to highlight some of the cities that caught our attention.

  • Detroit : a big city diminished by economic hardship now appears to be reinventing itself as one of the most interesting urban experiments in the country.
  • New Orleans, Memphis : neighborhoods!  These cities are full of diversity, nightlife, and interesting neighborhoods.  They allow for spontaneity.  The enthusiasm of their residents grabs you.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh : these places are strong in cultural institutions and heritage.  How they continue to maintain a vibrant edge will be worth watching.
  • Charlotte, Raleigh : residents seem fine as they are, but we detect from respondents a sense that their cities may not have quite caught up to the aspirations of their citizens.  They can do more, particularly as their economies, demographics, and aspirations are rapidly changing.
  • Minneapolis, Portland : cities are about possibility.  Those that invest in theme parks, shopping malls, stadiums and convention centers are foreclosing possibilities not creating them.  Respondents in these cities cite the wonderful natural resources, good access to them, and a cultural life happening at street level.  You get the feeling that Minneapolis and Portland are attentive to what its residents want from their city.

 

HOW TO USE THE VITALITY INDEX™

It is our hope that the Vitality Index™ ranking will give guidance to cities to continue to support programs and policies that are clearly – and verifiably – enriching the lives of their citizens in economic and cultural ways and also give them pause about pursuing policies that don’t or won’t.  The real value of the VI is in its usefulness as a means of improving the quality of life for the residents of the city by staying in touch with their desires and aspirations.

The Creative Cities approach, with the help of the VI, is customized to cities’ needs and requirements.  It provides measurements and analysis that can also serve as a persuasive means of moving ideas and vision into the public realm of policy and responsible decision-making because what is missing in most analyses is crucial:  the intentions and values of the community.

Fully activated, it is divided into three levels:

  • gathering of data such as demographics, trends, costs and measures of typical and creative infrastructure modeled to produce a ranking that benchmarks the city against competitor cities;
  • surveys and focus groups with residents and other stakeholders that examine people’s habits, how they actually live their lives, where they go, what they do, their concerns, and their aspirations.  This provides additional analysis, refined recommendations, risks and opportunities, and essential indicators of what people want and care about;
  • high-level rigorous analysis from a cultural point of view.

  

HOW TO USE THE VI FOR FUTURE PROJECTS

The VI can help to ensure that the planned design of an area makes a positive contribution to the community and the city by taking into account – and valuing – what isn’t usually considered.  With this information, a city can pose a question about a goal or project.  If a city wishes to attract business by enhancing its business climate or its amenities, by altering its tax and zoning laws, etc., those values can be reflected in the factors the VI chooses to review and the analysis can point to the city’s objectives.

Another city might want to attract cultural tourism as a boon to economic regeneration and sustainability.  How art and cultural activities contribute to the current state of the city and how they might be enhanced would certainly be a major priority of the analysis.  In both cases, the cultural assessment evaluates the information from the VI on the basis of the project goals and the values the city thinks it has or wishes to enhance or attain.  It is an analysis that has the ability to change with increasingly complex goals or ones that change radically.

Or perhaps the city’s goals are less clear or its problems more profound.  For cities under more serious stress, changing zoning laws or building a cultural center will not be enough to make a dramatic difference in their future.  Even large infusions of cash won’t matter if they still lack that vitality, energy or “good messiness” that are critical to a city’s economic and cultural viability.  Here, the VI can examine what is already working and why, e.g. its street life, the marketplace, and its complex mix of people.   Identifying what is specific and interesting to the area is a first step in building confidence among residents and attracting commercial investment.

Finding answers to what seem intractable problems requires an analysis and understanding of a city’s culture from the bottom up and a focus for planning, design and economic regeneration rooted in a city’s uniqueness.

METHODOLOGY

The Vitality Index™ is produced using a mixed methodological approach.  It begins with quantitative factors including trends, costs, services, and measures of creative infrastructure.  It then combines key informant insights and survey data.  Government and civic leaders in a variety of positions responded to open-ended survey questions to offer judgments on the key attributes and liabilities of their cities, with attention paid to cultural and athletic attractions, night life, street life, educational opportunities, café society, and general creative dynamism.  At the same time, a survey was administered to several thousand individuals in the rated cities of the index to gain anonymous feedback on similar topics. The two approaches, together, offer both quantitative rigor and qualitative subtlety in our ability to actually produce a rating for each city, while allowing us the opportunity to offer disquisitive insights into specific attractions.

 

WHO WE ARE

We are a global team of the most dynamic and experienced practitioners in culture and urban planning, market and financial analysis, architecture, transportation and the creative industries.  We believe that for cities, large or small, to be brilliant, they must use all their resources: economic, political, and most of all, cultural.  There is a risk of failure in neglecting the creative and cultural potential in urban projects and city life.  The successful project is one that has understood the history the situation, and the market, and engenders goodwill in as many people as possible.

Contact:

Linda Lees, PhD. Director

Creative Cities International, LLC / info@creativecities.com

 

You can also download the pdf version of The Vitality Index™ here and here and in our box ressources.

Classé dans:Analyses, Expériences, Financement de projet, , , ,

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 5

We are honoured and deligheted to publish Dr Roberta Comunian’s* last article engaging with the current research and debate about the creative city and the importance of cultural infrastructure in contemporary cities. It argues that much of the focus has been around the investment of cities in specific regeneration projects or flagship developments rather than addressing the nature of the infrastructures, networks and agents engaging in the city’s cultural development. The complexity theory and its associated principles can provide a new understanding of the connection between the urban space and the systems of local cultural production and consumption. Drawing on interviews with creative practitioners in the North East region of England, the paper argues that the cultural development of a city is a complex adaptive system. This finding has implication both for policy makers and academic research. It emphases the importance of micro-interactions and network between creative practitioners, the publicly supported cultural sector and the cultural infrastructure of the city.

5 The principles of complexity within an urban cultural system[i]

5.1 Urban cultural economy: spaces of transition

In the general literature about the creative city and urban regeneration there is always a strong element of change, a movement from the industrial to the post-industrial, flagship events or buildings designed to enable cities to turn grey pages of the past into bright futures. Nevertheless, very little attention is given to the phase of transition and the passage between the old and the new.  It can be argued that this is because there is in fact no such turning point, and the evolution of events and interaction in the urban cultural landscape evolves slowly, hardly ever experiencing a distinct turning point. In this respect, complexity theory uses very interesting terminology to describe how complex systems experience change. A system changes usually because some of the elements of the system create small changes that push the system « far-from-equilibrium”: “for a system to be innovative, creative, and changeable it must be driven far from equilibrium where it can make use of disorder, irregularity, and difference as essential elements in the process of change (Stacey, 1995, p.490). If we read the complex history of the decline of the industrial economy in our cities and the way in which certain cities have been developing within cultural and creative economies, it can be interpreted as the development of a new order coming from the existing conditions created by the system. Nevertheless, it is often the event, such as the European Capital of Culture or a specific investment, such as a new flagship museum, that is the main catalyst, and therefore the reason for the changes taking place. Many of the explanations and motivations for change are not sought for in the contexts of the way local actors experience transition or change, but instead change is somehow considered to be already there. Another interesting idiom found in complexity literature is the idea of « space of possibilities ». Again, none of the literature which looks at ‘creative cities’ and ‘urban regeneration’ consider the real spectrum of possibilities within an evolving urban context, and the majority of case studies presented in the literature are positive examples and good practice, which hardly take into consideration possibilities for a different development and the role of failure.

We are still in the post 2008 cultural capital bid, so it is a bit of time for reconsideration, reflection at the moment and I do not know how it will plan out, but I think it was good that we did not get 2008 in order to see what is the most sustainable, longer term cultural infrastructure and expectation for the region; we got a problematic balance in terms of the fact  that Culture 10 programme is much about big events and tourism development but what risks getting lost is some really good quality art programming and cutting edge in terms of the content. (Manager, Voluntary Sector Visual Art Organisation, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

 The exploration of the space of possibilities can be read at different levels. At the city level, it can be argued that different cities have seen in the support and development of culture economies and infrastructure the exploration of new possibilities and solutions for their competitiveness and development. This is true if we compare different urban strategies and strategic plans. It seems also quite important to understand to what extent the post-industrial decline, the crisis derived from it and its social implications have opened different spaces – from physical empty buildings to space for new organisations, such as regional development agencies or local trusts, to grow – for cities to think about their future.  This is explained by a local policy maker in the context of Newcastle-Gateshead referring to the political will of the council to bring about change in the city

the drive was very much from the public sector, particularly Gateshead Council, them to have the ambition and guts to say this is a region which has suffered for hundreds of years of decline, declining industry, mining, shipbuilding, high unemployment, not a lot going for itself, they have looked at alternative ways to reinvigorate the city (Public Sector Officer, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

But at the same time as we can consider the exploration of new possibilities at the city level, it seems to work at the individual level as well, where gaps and constraints result in different choices and innovative thinking

 I decided I did want to carry on being an artist […] I just realised that there was a very big gap in Newcastle for an artist run gallery, a project that came from an artist project so that became my focus […] it was quite strategic in terms of my own career as an artist because I felt quite invisible in the North East as an artist (Visual artists, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

Allen (1997) talks about “a collective, spatial response to changing conditions” (p.6). In this respect it is easy to recall that the growing importance of culture and cultural economies has been a social and spatial response to the decline of the traditional industry. Even spatially in the city context the old industrial warehouses have been the first spaces to be taken over by artists and new creative practitioners in order to develop their practice (Zukin, 1985). This has occurred in Newcastle-Gateshead in the areas of Grainger Town where derelict buildings have been converted into office space for media industries and in the Ouseburn Valley area where artists have clustered around an old warehouse building, 36 Lime Street. As a photographer suggests in the context of Newcastle-Gateshead

I think people underestimate the North East culture, I think it is very deep-rooted in various areas like the industry that used to be here in the area, things like shipyard and mining and I think the lack of that now has left a bit of a void and some of the art works have helped to fill in that gap (Photographer, Northumberland)

5.2 Non-linearity, feedback and adaptation and co-evolution

Although in the literature there is a strong pressure towards homologation and to see the cultural development of a city as a positive event in which there is wide consensus, in fact complex systems do not interact on the basis of consensus and cause-effect developments, but of non-linearity, which is often what can be seen in the cultural development of cities. The fact that interactions are not regulated from above but are depending of internal and external feed-back of the system, and its connectivity and adaptive capacity, implies that making predictive assumptions about outcomes and trends, can no longer be given for granted (Holland, 1995). It also means that “behaviour patterns can emerge without being intended and in fact often emerge contrary to intention, producing unexpected and counter intuitive outcomes” (Stacey, 1995, p. 480).

 There is often an assumption that public policy and investment act in a direct causal way, and have a straightforward effect on the matter addressed. On the contrary, listening to cultural agents, creative industries and agencies of the city there is great room for non-linear interaction, also influenced by processes of adaptation and feedback between agents. Even large investments such as the establishment of a new contemporary art gallery which could be addressed as an injection having direct impact on local cultural economies sometimes do not provide a direct connection with local artists or development of creative industries.

I think Baltic is kind of this great resource that we’ve got, but it’s not, it’s kind of not functioning regionally; artists aren’t trying a connection with Baltic, and Baltic’s not really helping artists in the region. (Director, commercial art gallery).

In the development of the Baltic, the contemporary art gallery in Gateshead, a specific focus has been on recognising the importance of building audiences and involving the local community in contemporary art. Nevertheless, as complexity theory suggests, microscopic interactions can result in new and different possible structure at the level of the whole. So if we look at the outreach and participation programme of a museum or a gallery, we could certainly argue that it could have a role in building an audience for arts events and for the art market – ultimately having an impact also on local artists. A possible non-linear effect of the system convergence towards arts and culture in the North East region through public investment and development of private commercial galleries can be seen in the impact of the Own Art scheme. The North East region of England accounted for 23%[ii] of the national sales of contemporary art supported by this scheme. One explanation for this concentration of sales is the stimulation of an art-buying market through the awareness of art created by the investment in this region. The growth in art sales can also function as positive feedback to the system as a whole. However, it is impossible to attribute this effect to one single element or incident, but it needs to be linked to a combination of many elements and their interaction: “nonlinear feedback system operates at the edge of instability, therefore, agents in that system cannot intend the long-term outcomes of their actions. Instead, those long-term outcomes emerge from the detailed interactions between the agents” (Stacey, 1995, p. 483).

The same non-linear effects can be seen in the growth of the creative industries sector in the region. Although it could be interpreted as an effect of the region’s investment in culture, it needs to be further conceptualised not in the attraction of talents and international companies[iii], but in the regional supportive environment and its grassroots cultural development. The non-linearity of the regeneration process has been described elsewhere: “these developments were underpinned not by economic imperatives, but by a will and determination on the part of local arts activists and politicians to provide the area with the cultural facilities that it deserved. It may well be the case that the cultural imperative is the crucial ingredient here” (Bailey et al., 2004, p. 61). The possibility to support and implement creative economies without a direct investment, but with indirect support from audiences and the market, through advocacy and participation is further presented by a designer:

from the public sector perspective I think that’s were they should be putting the main effort in educating people, helping people understand, highlighting, showcasing and that would do more for the design business than any grant that they give out, grants just increase the number of businesses while this would increase the number of contracts available and the industry would expand consequently (Designer, Newcastle Upon Tyne)

Part of the public strategy behind the development of the cultural infrastructure of Newcastle-Gateshead has been in the long-term embedded approach to culture and in the focus on participation and access. This kind of policy seems to respond to a need for the agents of the system to co-evolve, to change within a changing environment, and to reciprocally influence each other. The evolution of one domain or entity is partially dependent on the evolution of other related domains or entities (Kauffman 1993). It is not just simple adaptation; it is an evolution which changes the agents and changes the environment. This is suggested by the following description of the change which occurred in the cultural landscape of Newcastle-Gateshead “these developments succeeded precisely because the local people took ownership of them, not as exclusive symbols of wealth but as sources of local pride that regenerated a local source of identity as much as they did the local economy” (Bailey et al., 2004, p.61). The co-evolution is also suggested by the long-term implementation of the cultural investments which started in the early 90s to culminate in 2004 with the opening of The Sage Gateshead but which have been also implemented through Culture10, a 10-year support programme of festivals and events running until 2010.

you see places like The Sage Gateshead, people are making hard business decisions, obviously thinking that it is worth investing in it and they would not be doing it if there was not a market, it is fantastic for the city and the knock-on effect is that you get smaller people following, it is a sort of piggyback effect and hopefully it is gathering momentum (Director, Commercial art gallery).


[i] The use of complexity theory and its principles in the present article does not aim to provide a simplified overview on the long evolving literature on the subject, which the author herself is still investigating and exploring. Nevertheless, referring to this framework of analysis aims to introduce a new critical approach to the study of creative economies, which is better informed of the wider debate on the complexity of urban and economic interactions and avoid the temptation to established simple causal links between a city economic development and its cultural infrastructure.

[ii] Own Art is a loan scheme developed in UK by the Arts Council. It allows a 0% loan for buyers of contemporary art in different commercial galleries associated to the scheme. Almost a quarter of all loans (23%) were made by galleries in the North East region, with the highest percent of sell achieved in any other region.

[iii] This approach which is typical of large American cities studied by Florida is probably not part of a European perspective of the creative economy if we exclude few European capital cities (see Gibbon, 2005 and Nathan, 2005).

_____

*Dr. Roberta Comunian is Creative Industries Research Associate at the School of Arts, University of Kent. Prior to this, she was lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness. She has been visiting researcher at University of Newcastle investigating the relationship between creative industries, cultural policy and public supported art institutions. She has previously undertaken research on knowledge transfer and creative industries within an AHRC Impact Fellowship award at the University of Leeds.

_________________

Previous chapters :

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 1

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 2

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 3

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 4

Classé dans:Analyses, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, Ressources, , , , , ,

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 4

We are honoured and deligheted to publish Dr Roberta Comunian’s* last article engaging with the current research and debate about the creative city and the importance of cultural infrastructure in contemporary cities. It argues that much of the focus has been around the investment of cities in specific regeneration projects or flagship developments rather than addressing the nature of the infrastructures, networks and agents engaging in the city’s cultural development. The complexity theory and its associated principles can provide a new understanding of the connection between the urban space and the systems of local cultural production and consumption. Drawing on interviews with creative practitioners in the North East region of England, the paper argues that the cultural development of a city is a complex adaptive system. This finding has implication both for policy makers and academic research. It emphases the importance of micro-interactions and network between creative practitioners, the publicly supported cultural sector and the cultural infrastructure of the city.

3. The creative and cultural economy of the city as a complex system

The creative city model, as we have highlighted, has been used as an instrumental approach to developing cultural and creative economies in different urban contexts. Nevertheless, the limitations of this approach are clear in terms of sustainability, social inclusion and development of local grassroots cultural economies. It is important to see how support and cultural policy should therefore be developed without imposing strategies and characteristics which are extraneous to the local environment (Nathan, 2005), instead supporting and developing local assets and actors to enable them to build a sustainable cultural economy.

Much of the economic literature relating to creative industries and regional economic development mentions the importance of networks and co-location in order to build a vibrant economy (Coe, 2001; Coe, 2000; Gibson, 2003; Kong, 2005; Lange, 2005; Scott, 2004; Turok, 2003). The creative industries sector is comprised of small and medium size companies, and sole trading is typical. It is therefore easy to see how networking can have a role and an impact in the development of economic growth and support for the sector.

When investigating the potentials of the creative city, it is not useful to establish which kind of investment and assets are needed if we do not first understand how creative and cultural practitioners work, and what kind of agencies they require for their practices. It is important to investigate how culturepreneurs “act in order to build up networks, to arrange meetings, and to establish urban laboratories where new products can be tested and where experience and knowledge may be shared” (Lange, 2005, p.82).

Therefore, it is essential to look at the development of local creative and cultural economies, adopting a new approach. In this respect complexity theory can offer useful insight into the cultural dynamics of the city (Allen, 1997; Batty, 2005), particularly as it examines the importance of a bottom-up approach where the determinants of the cultural development of the city do not depend only on the political choices of the leaders, but on the complex network of relations which the cultural agents and practitioners of the city build and develop. In this respect, Florida’s (2002) study of the creative class  suggests an interesting correlation of the relationship between cultural factors and the development of creative economies, but the way in which these cultural factors can be implemented or stimulated has often been misinterpreted.

As many authors (Finch and Orillard, 2005; Mitleton-Kelly, 2006) point out, complexity theory is not a single unified theory, but has been developed through the study of complex systems in different contexts, such as biology, chemistry, computer simulation, mathematics and organisational science. Nevertheless, part of this corpus of study has focused on human systems, and suggests that complex social systems (such as an urban environment) share features with other complex systems, and are able to create new order and innovate. Complexity theory offers some useful suggestions regarding the principles which guide the evolution and development of complex systems, and how cultural factors and agents interact, respond and evolve in different ways in specific contexts. More recently, Martin and Sunley (2007) have investigated the potential and the challenges of using complexity theory in economic geography. The way in which the principles[i] developed within the context of complexity theory can be applied to the social and economic dynamics of a city or region has been questioned, and as suggested by Green (1999), even though we can have snapshots of the complexity of a system and its complex behaviour, it is more difficult to address its evolutionary nature.

Using the framework developed by Green (Green, 1999) the second part of the paper seeks to question how the cultural economy of a city needs be studied as a complex co-evolving system (CCES), meaning that creativity and the cultural aspects of the urban context do not just adapt to changes in the environment (such as a specific policy or a large investment) but they also influence and affect that specific context. “The process is not unilateral but reciprocal or co-evolutionary. CCES have a set of interrelated characteristics that influence each other and enable them to create new order” (Mitleton-Kelly, 2006, p. 225).  In order to understand in which terms the cultural development of a city should be analysed through the lens of a complexity approach, we draw upon the case study of Newcastle-Gateshead and interviews carried out with cultural and creative practitioners of the North East region of England[ii].

4. Methodology and case study

The results presented in the following section were gathered over two years of research carried out in Newcastle-Gateshead and the North East region of England between 2004 and 2006. The project included 136 interviews with local creative practitioners in the region and people working in the cultural sector not only in the private but also in the public and not for profit sector. The central focus of the research was on the importance of place and networks in the creative economy, using both qualitative interviews and social network analysis.

The context of Newcastle-Gateshead and the North East represent a somewhat challenging case study for research into the development of local creative and cultural industries. On one hand, the region’s growing attention towards this sector is part of a long-term regeneration commitment, and on the other, Newcastle-Gateshead, unlike many of the famous case studies addressed by the literature, missed the cultural summit and missed the opportunity to be European Capital of Culture 2008 in favour of Liverpool.

The region’s focus on cultural investment began in the early nineties when the region attracted the Year of Visual Arts in 1996. The ability of some regional actors (lead by Northern Arts, now the Arts Council North East) to attract large public investments to the region in order to revitalise the local economy and develop local participation in arts activities is widely acknowledged (Bailey et al., 2004). These investments enabled the creation of large publicly funded cultural infrastructures, not only in contemporary art (The Baltic) and music (The Sage Gateshead) but also in theatres (refurbishments of the Northern Stage, Theatre Royal and Live Theatre), crafts (National Glass Centre, expansion of the Shipley Gallery), literature (Seven Stories), dance (Dance City) and other important events. Nevertheless, the question of whether and to what extent public sector infrastructure has benefited and boosted the local creative economy is not a simple one to address. The region, and specifically Newcastle-Gateshead have definitely benefited from a new image as a ‘creative city’[iii], but local development followed different patterns when the Capital of Culture event was no longer to take place in the city and new motivation and reasons to keep the city’s commitment to its cultural investments needed to be found.

At the beginning of the 2000’s, the RDA, local authorities and support agencies started to look at the potential economic impact of the creative economy locally and regionally, with a strong commitment to the idea of ‘cultural quarters’ as a hub of the city. At the marketing and promotional level, a first formulation of the ‘cultural quarters’ map of the city was developed by Newcastle-Gateshead Initiative (NGI), the city destination agency. In this first presentation 5 cultural quarters[iv] where included: the Quayside, Grainger Town, the Haymarket, Chinatown and Jesmond. The interpretation of what a ‘cultural quarter’ is was based mainly on the consumption of culture either through the presence of large cultural institutions or trendy shops. In this classification, no mention was made of the Ouseburn Valley, the largest co-location of artists and creative practitioners in the area.  Since 2002-3, a second ‘cultural quarter’ strategy has been led by the University of Newcastle, which developed a new master plan and major refurbishment initiative for its cultural facilities, but also addresses the role of cultural production (specifically through the Culture Lab and the Northern Writer’s Centre).  Additionally, investments in the Ouseburn Valley as the cultural production heart of the city, on the opposite side of the shiny Quayside buildings, started taking place.

More recently, a wider focus has been developed, based not on clusters, but networks. Specifically, various networks and infrastructures have been put in place to address the needs of the various creative sub-sectors. Agencies like Codeworks (for media industries), Northern Film and Media (for the moving image sector) or New Writing North (for writers) and others have been in charge of developing schemes and training to boost the local creative economy.

In the following paragraphs, we use the material collected through interviews and ethnographic research to address how the cultural and creative development of a city should be read from a complexity perspective. In particular, within this complexity perspective, we try to present a system which interacts at a variety of levels and the different ways in which changes and structures are experienced and understood by people acting at different levels in the system, particularly practitioners and policy makers.


[i]  For an useful overview on the principles of complexity theory see Martin and Sunley (2007) p. 6.

[ii] The field work undertaken for the present research included 136 semi-structured interviews with people working in the creative and cultural industries (within the private and the public and not for profit sector) in the North-East region of England. Interviews took place between November 2005 and April 2006. Furthermore, social network analysis has been used to test the role of networks and infrastructures.

[iii] Newsweek Atlantic Edition on 2nd September 2002 wrote “Newcastle-Gateshead listed as one of the world’s eight most creative city”.

[iv] The information are present on-line and include a map of the city cultural quarters http://www.visitnewcastlegateshead.com/cultureQuarters.php#  (accessed on 5 January 2008)

_____

*Dr. Roberta Comunian is Creative Industries Research Associate at the School of Arts, University of Kent. Prior to this, she was lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness. She has been visiting researcher at University of Newcastle investigating the relationship between creative industries, cultural policy and public supported art institutions. She has previously undertaken research on knowledge transfer and creative industries within an AHRC Impact Fellowship award at the University of Leeds.

_________________

Previous chapters :

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 1

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 2

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 3

Classé dans:Analyses, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , , , ,

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 3

We are honoured and deligheted to publish Dr Roberta Comunian’s* last article engaging with the current research and debate about the creative city and the importance of cultural infrastructure in contemporary cities. It argues that much of the focus has been around the investment of cities in specific regeneration projects or flagship developments rather than addressing the nature of the infrastructures, networks and agents engaging in the city’s cultural development. The complexity theory and its associated principles can provide a new understanding of the connection between the urban space and the systems of local cultural production and consumption. Drawing on interviews with creative practitioners in the North East region of England, the paper argues that the cultural development of a city is a complex adaptive system. This finding has implication both for policy makers and academic research. It emphases the importance of micro-interactions and network between creative practitioners, the publicly supported cultural sector and the cultural infrastructure of the city.

2.2 The contradiction of a global creative city and the importance of local assets

Although the concept of the creative city appears to be a very attractive and sophisticated policy instrument, few people have considered its global reach and local limits. As with many fuzzy concepts (Markusen, 2003) and global branding exercises (Jensen, 2005; Kearns and Philo, 1993), it can be seen as another globalised brand which has been accepted and adopted without critical debate or intervention. In particular, Europe has been very receptive to the concept (Florida and Tinagli, 2004), although previous research adopting a more embedded approach to the creative city (Bianchini and Landry, 1995; Landry, 2000) did not enjoy the same success. However, Montgomery (2005) points out that the creative cities listed by Florida (especially in the European analysis) often do not reflect the reality of the creative economy[i], and argues that “the only indicator that matters is the strength of a city’s creative economy, measured in the number of businesses and employees, and by the wealth they produce” (Montgomery, 2005, p. 339). As Gibbon (2005) suggests, even though Florida’s theory might be valid for the American context, this does not imply that a similar correlation can be found in British and European cities.

According to Bailey et al (2004), Florida’s creative class is far from promoting the kind of local culture and identity that is central to many successful urban regeneration projects. They argue that this paradigm promotes a globalised culture that can cause a location to become anonymous by virtue of its prescribed ‘diversity’: “the city allows you to modulate the experience: to choose the mix, to turn the intensity level up and down as desired and to have a hand in creating the experience rather than merely consuming it” (Florida, 2002, p. 232). On the contrary, successful urban regeneration projects are, according to the authors, those implying a strong involvement of the pre-existing community and local identity. In these terms, culturally based urban regeneration processes should not aim towards a multicultural and multi-identity town, offering the widest choice of cultural opportunities for the creative class. Instead, it should recover a sense of place, history and belonging. This vision is almost in antithesis with the decline of the identity and community links typical of Florida’s globalised city model. Furthermore, an unconditional and uncritical acceptance of this approach tends to underestimate the need for balance between the attraction of “foreign” talent and the development of local talent. In this respect, if the focus is the attraction of a highly mobile creative class, cities would have to continuously compete for the retention of those highly skilled people with other fast-growing creative metropolises. Furthermore, as some authors suggest with reference to the development of creative economies and creative clusters, the grassroots development of creative industries can provide a long-term view: “there is a growing awareness that the development of a viable indigenous sector is crucial to providing a long-term basis for employment in the industry.” (Coe, 2000, p. 392)

Moreover, this could lead to the possibility of many investments and projects attracting the creative class towards a city or town causing the progressive exclusion of local artists. This phenomenon could cause processes of gentrification and segregation, resulting in the formation of a dualistic development model. In particular, Zukin (1995; 1985), takes a critical standpoint with regard to urban regeneration processes based on culture. She claims that the goals of these interventions are mostly speculative and tend to involve arts and culture as a simple add-on, merely instrumental to raising the property value. In particular, Zukin reports the typical effect of the fast rise of the economic value of certain regenerated areas. This phenomenon can cause the artists who originally generated the attraction to be forced out of the regenerated area due to rising property values.

In their ideal of the creative city, many policy makers have forgotten to analyse the social problems and inequalities that are caused by excessive competition for the attraction of talent at the expense of the development of local communities (Brooks, 2000). Theoretically, there is no guarantee that investing in the attraction of “outside” talents produces better long term results than investing in the “empowerment” and consolidation of local talent. However, with an inward looking approach there is a risk of being trapped in defensive and self-comforting localism, rather than enhancing exchanges and interactions with other similar locations.

Bell and Jayne (2003) consider the role of design and design-led urban regeneration, and critically acknowledge that although some interesting case studies could be addressed, like the one regarding Barcelona or Glasgow, there is always a limit in practice. While there is often success in the re-imaging of the city and creation of levels of business involvement, and in terms of consumption, there is no evidence that the involvement of members of the community, or their view of the city or how design affects their life is being taken into consideration. In this respect, the potential in terms of social impact and social inclusion, often quoted as being one of the specific outcomes of these investments, is not so clear. The relation between creative economy and urban regeneration remains still an assumption that needs to be investigated further.

A careful reflection on the features of the promoters and beneficiaries of the “creative city” model is needed. It is suggested that “until we have a serious debate concerning values and ethics, the creative city will remain a comfortable ‘feel-good’ concept for consultants, policy makers and politicians rather than a serious agenda for radical change ” (Chatterton, 2000, p. 397). As Garcìa (2004) suggests, in the lessons to be learnt from past examples of culture-led urban-regeneration “the hype is surrounded by strong pressure among policy-makers and cultural practitioners to find the perfect model of action […] there are no straight answers, or clear models to follow “(Garcìa, 2004, p.322). From this perspective, cultural investments aiming at the promotion of creativity also have to meet a series of social needs and goals, such as the promotion of social inclusion, intercultural dialogue and the promotion of human and civil rights against economic and social exclusion (Donald and Morrow, 2003).

 

_____

*Dr. Roberta Comunian is Creative Industries Research Associate at the School of Arts, University of Kent. Prior to this, she was lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness. She has been visiting researcher at University of Newcastle investigating the relationship between creative industries, cultural policy and public supported art institutions. She has previously undertaken research on knowledge transfer and creative industries within an AHRC Impact Fellowship award at the University of Leeds.

________________

Endnotes

[1] For example, Montgomery (2005) suggests how Leicester becomes the second most creative city in UK, just because too much weight is put on the fact that it has a large non-white population even if its creative economy is not developed more than other UK cities.

[2] For an useful overview on the principles of complexity theory see Martin and Sunley (2007) p. 6.

[3]  The field work undertaken for the present research included 136 semi-structured interviews with people working in the creative and cultural industries (within the private and the public and not for profit sector) in the North-East region of England. Interviews took place between November 2005 and April 2006. Furthermore, social network analysis has been used to test the role of networks and infrastructures.

_________________

Previous chapters :

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 1

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 2


 

 

 

Classé dans:Analyses, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , , , , ,

MATHIS J. BOUT: ‘URBAN CULTURE IS THE NEW CREATIVE CLASS’

When you say ‘urban’, you say Rotterdam. And in this case we don’t just mean ‘urban’ in the literal way, but also as in ‘urban culture’. There’s no other city in the Netherlands where urban culture (in English better known as street culture) can prosper better than in Rotterdam. 

It was just a matter of time before the first urban expert stood up. Let us introduce to you: Mathis J. Bout. A young architect. His bureau URBMATH especially designs environments to facilitate the new creative class in Rotterdam. A group that has its roots in urban culture. To really get to know this new class, he submerged himself in the urban culture. His prediction for street culture in Rotterdam? “It all goes back to the essence.”

The term ‘urban’ has caused a lot of confusion in Rotterdam during the last years. One group associates ‘urban’ with a new creative class, derived from street culture. The other group sees urban culture as a destructive culture which is unfriendly to women and glorifies gangsters.
It’s obvious that Mathis J. Bout is part of the first group. In his opinion Rotterdam is thé urban culture city of the Netherlands and that offers the city a lot of chances. “Urban culture is the new creative class in Rotterdam. It’s the engine behind our city’s economy, so it should not be underestimated”

« Urban culture is the new creative class in Rotterdam. It’s the engine behind our city’s economy, so it should not be underestimated. »

Urban culture is the culture of the young citizens, a culture that has its roots on the streets. In Rotterdam hip hop culture has been the most important inspiration for the kids on the streets. “It’s quite easy to explain why hip hop and Rotterdam go along so well. Rotterdam has the right state of mind. ‘No words, just action’ is what we say down here. And that is exactly what hip hop culture is about. It’s not a coincidence that in Bed-Stuy (Bedford-Stuyvesant, an area in Brooklyn; red.), where rappers like Mos Def en Notorious B.I.G. come from, they say ‘do or die’. It’s the same attitude as you see in Rotterdam.”

From underground and misunderstood, urban culture has turned more and more into an accepted new creative class. In Rotterdam local authorities even started an institute to stimulate this subculture. (whether this is going to work is a subject for another story…). Fact is that urban culture develops fast in Rotterdam. “I think we’re at a point where it’s all gonna turn 360: back to the essence. You can see it happening in hip hop music in Rotterdam already. The sound is more authentic again. You hear it in the use of rough beats and the message in the lyrics is becoming more important. Guys like Vieira and MuSiz are a good example.”

“I think the same thing is going to happen in street art. Street art came from graffiti. Graffiti started with writing down your name on the wall to let people know you exist. Later graffiti was used to proclaim a message. That used to be all in words, but at the moment street art becomes more and more illustrative. People use illustrations to tell their story instead of words. I think there’s gonna be a movement with people who choose to go back to the roots of graffiti.”

Though in street art Mathis also sees a new trend. Artists do not only use a wall and paint or stickers and pens anymore, they explore other ways of sending out their message. “I’ve already seen urban knitwear; Colourful knitwear around a pole. I wouldn’t be surprised if artist start exploring more and more new ways to tell their story.”

Innovative street art in Rotterdam

Mathis’ mission is to facilitate all these forms of urban culture with the right environment. In his point of view not the architect, but the user is the starting-point for designing buildings and environments. He’s ready to give Rotterdam and other cities what they need with his bureau URBMATH. The website www.urbmath.com is online soon.

Author: Ellen Mannens

Source : 2010LAB.tv

2010LAB.tv is a project of the ecce (european centre for creative economy), an institute of RUHR.

Classé dans:Analyses, Expériences, Gouvernances, Ingénieries, Politiques culturelles, , , , , ,

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 2

We are honoured and deligheted to publish Dr Roberta Comunian’s* last article engaging with the current research and debate about the creative city and the importance of cultural infrastructure in contemporary cities. It argues that much of the focus has been around the investment of cities in specific regeneration projects or flagship developments rather than addressing the nature of the infrastructures, networks and agents engaging in the city’s cultural development. The complexity theory and its associated principles can provide a new understanding of the connection between the urban space and the systems of local cultural production and consumption. Drawing on interviews with creative practitioners in the North East region of England, the paper argues that the cultural development of a city is a complex adaptive system. This finding has implication both for policy makers and academic research. It emphases the importance of micro-interactions and network between creative practitioners, the publicly supported cultural sector and the cultural infrastructure of the city.

 

2. Complexity thinking and the creative city

2.1. Complexity theory and its principles

While this paper cannot present a full account of CT, it attempts to explore how this theory might provide a new key for a deeper and more articulated understanding of the cultural dynamics that unfold in urban contexts. In order to do so a brief outline of the theory is provided and its main principles are introduced.

Secondly, the application of complexity to cultural economy is explored, in particular as related to creative industries and cultural production in previous research. Finally, methodological issues are addressed to explore the potential and limits of using CT in the creative city debate.

As many authors (Finch and Orillard, 2005; Mitleton-Kelly, 2006) point out, complexity theory (CT) is not a single unified theory, but has been developed through the study of complex systems in different fields, such as biology, computer science and organisational studies. The CT was first developed in scientific disciplines but has recently been adopted and integrated in the social sciences approaches (Byrne, 1998; Urry, 2003).

This new focus on human systems has suggested that complex social systems, such as cities or institutions, share features with other complex systems. CT offers some useful suggestions regarding the principles which guide the evolution and development of complex systems and how agents interact, respond and evolve in different environments. Nevertheless, it can be argued that its insights have not had wide adoption in social and economic geography although some seminal papers such as Thrift (1999) and more recently, Martin and Sunley (2007) have attempted to clarify its potential and challenges

Across different disciplines, a system can be considered ‗complex‘ when it displays the characteristics and specific principles outlined in Table 1. The key feature of the system must be that its elements interact in a non-linear way: it is not possible to forecast the behaviour and direction taken by the system as a whole by simply having knowledge of its components.

The first step to understand a complex system is identifying who are the agents interacting within it. These can be both human and non-human elements. This is particularly relevant to the cultural field as non-human elements such as a specific place, idea or cultural product can have powerful influences on a city‘s cultural development.

Complex systems are also open systems; therefore, external elements interacting with the cultural field must also be taken into consideration. Elements which might be marginal to the cultural development, such as the local environment and its economic development can have important influences on the system. Through CT we accept that there are no deterministic patterns that can be followed, this is one of the main criticism to the creative class theory.  The value of using CT lies in the possibility to understand the micro-dynamics of the system. This allows us to identify the emergence of structures and organisational forms that support and facilitate the connectivity and growth of the system will be addressed.

Another key aspect of CAS is their evolutionary nature; they develop through processes of trial-and-error, ―failures and successes are not primarily the signals of right or wrong policies but, rather, the by-pro duct of a natural learning process‖ (Lambooy, 2002, p. 1033).

Table 1:  Principles of CT and possible application in the cultural field (sources: Colliers (1998); Pavard and Dugdale (2000), Martin and Sunley (2007))

 

 

2.2. Complexity and the creative industries

As suggested, there are a variety of ways to read the development of cultural economies in cities as a CAS. To support this view, there are a series of other contributions, which are linked with the creative industries literature, which needs to be acknowledged. They also seem to integrate the complexity perspective at different scales: looking at interactions between creative industries within local clusters and, at the macro-level, in relation to the interaction between creative products and their global markets. The paper argues that these perspectives need to become part of the policy thinking also at an urban development level. The limits of the current debate, specifically in relation to the opposition between cultural production and cultural consumption, needs to be considered. When analysing creative industries production systems, the importance of patterns and dynamics of cultural consumption in the city is often overlooked. On the contrary, when cultural consumption (from the perspective of regeneration, image or participation) is studied, the system of local cultural production of that specific context is often ignored. [5]

At the micro-level (interaction among creative practitioners and local networks) there have been key contributions underlining the role of local intermediaries in facilitating interactions among local creative industries (Fleming, 2002), the importance of social dynamics in the interaction of creative industries (Kong, 2005) and the role of place as creating consensus among different agents (Julier, 2005). A large part of the literature relating to clusters and regional economic development suggests the importance of networks (Christopherson, 2002; Coe, 2000; Crewe, 1996; Ettlinger, 2003; Gordon and McCann, 2000; Grabher, 2002; Johns, 2006; Knox et al., 2005; Meusburger, 2000; Mossig, 2004; Neff, 2004; Sturgeon, 2003) and these arguments have been, on various occasions, interconnected with the urban cultural infrastructure through terms such as cultural quarters or cultural milieu.

At the meso-level (the urban development and its cultural dynamics) the contributions have been weaker in reference to identifying key structures and dynamics but the need to a better understanding of the interaction between consumption and production in the creative city as been acknowledged (Chapain and Comunian, 2009; Hall, 2000, 2004; Pratt, 2009).

At the macro-level (the markets dynamics in the creative economy) there has been a growing recognition of the specificities of the creative sector, particularly: its social contagion dynamics (Kretschmer et al., 1999); the thin boundaries between the creative, knowledge and information sectors (Cunningham, 2004); its evolutionary dynamics and the role of social network markets (Albertsen and Diken, 2004; Potts, 2007; Potts et al., 2008); the role of consumer and meanings creation (Hartley, 2004) and the breaking down of barriers between producer and consumer (Uricchio, 2004).

The nature of the creative industries, as described by the literature mentioned, seems to suggest a potential role for CT, without directly acknowledging or applying it.  In fact, while creative industries are embedded in closely linked local networks (Banks et al., 2000; Coe, 2000) they also are part of a global cultural production system (Scott, 2004). The interactions between public and private in the sector also implies a strong openness and instability (O’Connor, 2002). This is further accentuated by the bifurcated structure of the sector where few multinational corporation co-exist with a miriade of micro-enterprises, freelancers and sole-traders (Jeffcutt and Pratt, 2002). All these features inevitably add to the complexity of the sector and its relation with the urban context.

The understanding of micro-dynamics among creative industries and other agents at the local level is key in the understanding of the development of creative cities. This needs to be also integrated into the bigger picture of the creative economy and its global dynamics, although for space constrains this paper will only superficially consider this.

 

2.3. Methodological implications and limits

The application of CT encourages a stronger focus on process rather than outcomes. It does so by exploring the interaction among agents alongside the changes taking place in the context. We must consider what the manifestations of these interactions are and how they can be capture by the researcher. This is one of the most challenging aspects of CT. Most of the changes and interactions are hard to identify as they involve micro-interactions within the system.  It can be argued that this long-term complex perspective should be embedded in most of the academic research, but the reality is that the ‗short-term‘ policy (Jayne, 2005; Oakley, 2004, 2006) does not take into account this complexity perspective.

The application of CT allows for a variety of research methods, from qualitative approaches to mathematical modelling and network analysis. In this paper, the results from qualitative interviews and ethnographic materials from NewcastleGateshead are used to demonstrate the way in which the cultural development of the city behaves like a CAS. The findings imply an awareness of the agents of the complex network of interactions in the cultural economy of the city. The manifestations are very different across different sectors of the creative industries [6] as well as across public, private and not for profit sectors.

The way in which the principles of CT can be applied to the social and economic dynamics of a city has been questioned. Green (1999) argues that, although we can have snapshots of the complexity of a system and its behaviour, it is more difficult to address its evolutionary nature. This is a limitation which could not be overcome in this research, as it would require revisiting the context over time. Using the framework developed by Green (1999) the last part of the paper seeks to question how the cultural economy of a city needs be studied as a CAS, meaning that creativity and the cultural aspects of the urban context do not just adapt to changes in the environment (such as a specific policy or a large investment) but they also influence and affect that specific context.

The results presented in the following section were gathered over two years of research carried out in NewcastleGateshead and the North East region of England between 2004 and 2006. The project included 136 interviews and collection of social network analysis data with local creative/cultural professionals in both the private, public and not for profit sectors.

_____

[5] I acknowledge the suggestion of one of the referees in the necessity to point out this limit of the current debate.

[6] Although it would be interesting to explore these difference among creative industries sectors, for space limitation the paper will not aim to do this.

_____

*Dr. Roberta Comunian is Creative Industries Research Associate at the School of Arts, University of Kent. Prior to this, she was lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness. She has been visiting researcher at University of Newcastle investigating the relationship between creative industries, cultural policy and public supported art institutions. She has previously undertaken research on knowledge transfer and creative industries within an AHRC Impact Fellowship award at the University of Leeds.

 

Previous chapter :

Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 1

  • Introduction
  • 1 Definitions and limits of the ‘creative city’
  • 1.1 What is the ‘creative city’?
  • 1.2 Contradictions and limits of the creative city policy


 

 

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Rethinking the creative city: the role of complexity, networks and interactions in the urban creative economy / 1

We are honoured and deligheted to publish Dr Roberta Comunian’s* last article engaging with the current research and debate about the creative city and the importance of cultural infrastructure in contemporary cities. It argues that much of the focus has been around the investment of cities in specific regeneration projects or flagship developments rather than addressing the nature of the infrastructures, networks and agents engaging in the city’s cultural development. The complexity theory and its associated principles can provide a new understanding of the connection between the urban space and the systems of local cultural production and consumption. Drawing on interviews with creative practitioners in the North East region of England, the paper argues that the cultural development of a city is a complex adaptive system. This finding has implication both for policy makers and academic research. It emphases the importance of micro-interactions and network between creative practitioners, the publicly supported cultural sector and the cultural infrastructure of the city.

 

Introduction

Cities have made significant investment in their cultural infrastructure and creative economies in the last two decades. Culture has been used as a means of urban regeneration (Evans and Shaw, 2004; M. Miles, 2005), economic development (Florida, 2002b; Myerscough, 1988; Scott, 2000, 2004) and possibly social inclusion (Belfiore, 2002; Merli, 2002).

Nevertheless, the approach of developing and investing in creative economies has developed a new type of competition between cities. The attention of economic strategies and policy interventions has been focused on the specific assets and infrastructures that a city should have in order to be or to become a creative. As stated by Oakley: “no region of the country, whatever its industrial base, human  capital stock, scale or history is safe from the need for a ‘creative hub’ or ‘cultural quarter’ “ (Oakley, 2004, p.68). These interventions are used as a successful recipe that can be replicated on different occasions, without taking into consideration the distinctive aspects and specificity of places and circumstances.

Authors have described the cultural dynamics of cities from different perspectives. Some have focused on cultural consumption (Jones and Wilks-Heeg, 2004; Molotch, 1996) and image (B.  García, 2005), while others have looked at cultural production  (Clifton, 2008; Grabher, 2001; Pratt, 1997).  However, very little attention has been given to the interactions between these two aspects (Chapain and Comunian, 2009; Hall, 2000, 2004; Pratt, 2008). Without a detailed understanding of these interactions, a misrepresentation of the potential economic value of the creative economy can be formed.

The pressure to develop ‘creative cities’ has encouraged policy makers to adopt standardised formulas for cultural development. This often takes the form of a check-list of requirements such as a new art gallery, an ethnic festival, a media cluster or some public art. However, with this method no attention is given to the process of cultural development. While these assets might provide an initial attraction for companies or creative practitioners, what processes can sustain cultural development ?

The present paper draws on the principles of complexity theory (CT) to present the micro-dynamics of the creative economy in the context of NewcastleGateshead. It argues that the cultural development of a city (i.e. the process of becoming or being ‘creative city’) is a complex adaptive system (CAS) responding to CT principles. While this implies a critique and dismissal of any ‘one-size fit all’, top-down policy and consultancy solution, it auspicates the use of a more agents-focused and interaction-based understanding for both researchers and policy-makers.

The paper begins with defining and understanding the concept of the creative city and its more recent interpretations. Secondly, it outlines the principles of CT and its previous association to creative economy literature. Limits and challenges of the CT are also illustrated.

In the third section, the case study of NewcastleGateshead is presented and empirical materials are discussed in order to demonstrate that a ‘creative city’ is a CAS. The focus here is on the agents and their interdependence and interconnection with the context.  Finally, the paper proposes the need to re-think the creative city and its link to economic and cultural development from the prospective of the agents interacting in this CAS.

 

1 Definitions and limits of the ‘creative city’

1.1 What is the ‘creative city’?

Part of confusion and misunderstanding which surrounds policies and theoretical approaches to the ‘creative city’ are linked to a poor definition as a concept and the connotations which have been attached to it.

The first coherent formulation of the concept of ‘creative city’ is to be attributed to Bianchini and Landry (1995). Their work, taken forward singularly by Landry (2000), was linked to new re-positioning of cultural industries and cultural regeneration in urban development in UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They present ‘creativity’ in its broadest sense, considering how thinking outside the box can help  cities solve their everyday problems in innovative ways. Any lack of creativity needs to be solved in a multi-disciplinary way: all creativity – be it scientific or artistic – can make a difference to cities.  Among the examples, many present the interaction between artists or art organisations and places or communities.

In these examples a vision of culture as an engine to support a cities’ image and  economic future is also portrayed. Their work coincided with a new interpretation of role of culture within the European Capital of Culture (ECC) initiative, specifically after the title was awarded to Glasgow in 1990 [1].

Until the end of the 90s, the European academic and policy interpretation of ‘creative city’ as a concept  largely corresponds to the regenerative potential of culture presented in the ECC vision. The focus in both interpretations is on an improvement of the city (with potential economic returns) and its image through creative interventions and cultural activities. The cultural economy, specifically focused on consumption and image, becomes central.

Nevertheless, from 1998 onwards, the word ‘creative’ become popular in a variety of contexts and interpretations which still influence the meaning of the concept ‘creative city’ today. This represents a shift towards the production of culture and creative products and the presence of skilled labour driving the new knowledge / creative economy. This shift is linked, chronologically, first to the emergence of the term ‘creative industries’ (DCMS, 1998) and secondly to the development of the ‘creative class’ theory  (Florida, 2002b).

In reference to the first, the acceptance of the term ‘creative industries’ and the DCMS definition implied a new focus on the production of cultural/creative products, the infrastructure behind them and the creative worker.  Therefore, a new interpretation of the creative city emerges as the city where work and production of creative industries is concentrated and supported (J Montgomery, 2005).  There are elements of consumption here, when the creative industries and their cultural scenes are able to shape the image of a city and attract visitors, but these are only peripheral to the production perspective.

The second, more recent and more powerful association is the one between the ‘creative city’ and the ‘creative class’ (Florida, 2002b). This has emerged from the success of Florida’s first book (2002b) and has added an extra connotation to the creative city term and in many cases has superseded the previous understanding. Florida’s theory (2002a, 2000b) suggests that the economic success of a city is determined by the presence (and attraction) of the ‘creative class’. This ‘creative class’ is encompassing  a wide range of professionals, of which creative industries workers are only a small proportion [2].

Nevertheless, the ‘creative city’ can now be interpreted as the city with the highest actual presence of – or potential to attract – the creative class.

Florida’s suggests that in order to appeal to this group, cities should foster a cultural climate able to promote diversity, investing in structures devoted to culture and entertainment [3]. Many American and European cities have seen in Florida’s (2002b) theories a ready-to- use methodology and a guide for local economical development.

However, his theory has been criticised on different fronts; for many authors adopting Florida’s hypothesis as a reliable methodology for the  development of future urban growth is considered a scientific overstatement. Limits of the theory can be identified from the following:

  • From an economic perspective. In reference to traditional measure of development, the correlations found in the research have not roven to have a precise connection of causality with economic development (Malanga, 2004). Furthermore, the theory does not seem to take into considération the decline that followed in many USA cities after the ‘dot com’ boom (Kotkin, 2005).
  • From a policy and political perspective. Florida has secured himself consultancy contracts and space in the building of a “fast urban policy” for creative cities worldwide: “so packaged, creativity strategies were in a sense pre-constituted for this fast policy market” (Peck, 2005, p. 767).
  • From a social perspective. Donald and Morrow (2003) highlight how many local policy makers, including Florida himself, tend to mistake tolerance – an open-minded approach towards diversity – with the simple presence of cultural diversity. Additionally, it is significant that Florida forgets to include in his indexes certain critical social factors (such as age, differences in income, racial segregation, etc.). Similarly, McCann (2007) underlines the strong links between the creative city-region approach and inequalities, which also for Florida (2004) remains an open question.

Although all of these criticisms are interrelated, the present article aims to consider the limits of this approach specifically from cultural policy perspective.

The limitation of this kind of policy intervention is that it is fundamentally based on developing assets for attraction and growth, from a top-down perspective. It forces the idea that for a city to be ‘creative’ there  needs to be specific local assets such as cultural amenities, café culture, cultural diversity, as well as a provision for high technology. It does not seem to explain how the creative class interacts with these types of assets, or what competitive advantages they actually create.

Many of these policy actions suggested by the ‘creative class’ theory are geared towards building an attractive façade that gives the creative class the impression of living in an appealing cosmopolitan and buzzing city, a “cool city strategy” (Kotkin, 2005).

Nevertheless, this façade remains there for mainly aesthetic reasons: it is hard to prove that the high-skilled knowledge workers of the new media sector are going to be the ones particularly interested in visiting an art gallery or taking part in an ethnic festival.

“What is not being argued here is that there is an intrinsic value in ‘culture’ that attracts the ‘creatives’” (Pratt, 2008, p.108). On the contrary, it seems that the creative class profiled by Florida simply merges together professions which have very different approaches to life and culture (Markusen, 2006b).

Many of Florida’s (Florida, 2002a) indexes are based on the presence of specific assets (‘hard’ factors) and infrastructures –  as well as specific type of professions (bohemians): for his ‘cultural index’ and ‘coolness factor’ the cultural infrastructure, such as museums and galleries –  is considered a proxy as well as the presence of nightlife and clubs.  The CT, which will be introduced in the next paragraph, suggests that while these assets can play a role, the key to understand the development of creative cities is not in the assets but in the interactions and relations developed between the community and these assets and between different elements of this infrastructure. It is argued that a complexity  perspective – which takes in consideration the importance of networks and non-linear interactions – needs to acquire a new, central role in the argument of the creative city.

 

1.2 Contradictions and limits of the creative city policy

The concept of creative city has a variety of connotations and is linked to a variety of perspectives on the role of cultural consumption and production in the city. However, it can be argued that the policy succes of the ‘creative class’ theory and the oversimplification it implies has created a strong contradiction between the ‘creative city’ as a global discourse and its possible articulation in local urban development. Furthermore, the paper argues, it has enforced globally a top-down homologated approach to local cultural development.  As with many fuzzy concepts (Markusen, 2003) and global branding exercises (Jensen, 2005; Kearns and Philo, 1993), it can be seen as another globalised brand which has been accepted and adopted without critical debate or intervention. In particular, Europe has been very receptive to the concept (Florida and Tinagli, 2004), although previous research adopting a more embedded approach to the creative city (Bianchini and Landry, 1995; Landry, 2000) did not enjoy the same success.

Some of the limits emerging in urban policy discourses can be understood in light of the following contradictions and policies dilemmas:

  • Creative class versus creative industries / cultural workers. In the policy arena these two terms are often confused but they refer to a very different set of ‘stakeholders’. It is wrongly believed that these  groups want the same interventions and that interventions will cater homogenously for both (Markusen, 2006a). This is examined by Montgomery (2005) who points out that the creative cities listed by Florida (especially in the European analysis) often do not reflect the reality of the creative industries [4]. Similarly, Gibbon (2005) suggests that even though Florida’s theory might be valid for the American context, this  does not imply that a similar correlation can be found in European cities.
  • Local values versus global competitiveness in urban regeneration. This relates both to the kind of assets that are promoted and the kind of audiences that are targeted. There is a contradiction in how urban regeneration and other policy intervention cater for the ‘creative class’ or for the local distinctiveness value. This is explained by Bailey et al (2004) who point out that Florida’s creative class is far from promoting the kind of local culture and identity that is central to many successful urban regeneration projects. They argue that this paradigm promotes a globalised culture that can cause a location to become anonymous by virtue of its prescribed ‘diversity’. This vision is almost in antithesis with the decline of the identity and community links typical of Florida’s globalised city model. This is also linked to a larger debate on who should be the audience and target for cultural development of cities: the local community that can interact with the development in the long-term but may not have high-spending capacity or the visitors with their short-term use of the city that can generate economic returns.
  • Short-term attraction versus long-term retention policies. There seem to be a tendency for policy to adopt a short-term perspective and underestimate the need for balance between the attraction of « foreign » talent and the development of local talent. Theoretically, there is no guarantee that investing in the attraction of “outside” talents produces better long term results than investing in the “empowerment” and consolidation of local talent. On the contrary, if the focus is the attraction of a highly mobile creative class, cities would have to continuously compete for the retention of those highly skilled people with other fast-growing creative metropolises (Evans, 2009). As Gray argues (2009, p. 19) “the Creativity Fix is most insidious when it assumes that every city can win in the battle for talent and growth. Creativity scripts, however, are better understood as “zero-sum” urban strategies constituted within the context of uneven urban growth patterns ».

On the contrary some literature suggests that the grassroots development of creative industries can provide a long-term view: “the development of a viable  indigenous sector is crucial to providing a long-term basis for employment in the industry.” (Coe, 2000, p.392). Moreover, this could lead to the possibility of many investments and projects attracting the creative class towards a city or town causing the progressive exclusion or displacement of local artists, especially when they are forced out of the regenerated area due to rising property values (Catungal et al., 2009; Zukin, 1985, 1995).

    These contradictions and dilemmas present in current policy are the result of a limited understanding of the system of relations and interconnections of the complex system which is the cultural development of the city. This has led to the wishful thinking that one policy solution can cater for all cities cultural development. As García (2004) suggests, in the lessons to be learnt from past examples of culture-led urban-regeneration « the hype is surrounded by a strong pressure among policy-makers and cultural practitioners to find the perfect model of action […] there are no straight answers, or clear models to follow » (Garcia, 2004, p.322).

    However, in this fast-policy world, it is suggested that a careful reflection on the features of the promoters and beneficiaries of the « creative city » model is needed “until we have a serious debate concerning values and ethics, the creative city will remain a comfortable ‘feel-good’ concept for  consultants, policy makers and politicians rather than a serious agenda for radical change” (Chatterton, 2000, p. 397).

    The next paragraph will introduce CT, its principles and its possible application to a better understanding of the cultural development of cities. It will be argued that a complexity perspective can help to better understand the interactions and dynamics concerning these different dilemmas.

     

    Next chapter : Complexity thinking and the créative city

    Notes

    [1] Glasgow is the first city to be given the title that had not been a culturally recognized leading European city; previous hosts had been cities like Florence and Paris (see García 2005). The choice of Glasgow was motivated specifically by the potential to improve of its image and regenerate the city.

    [2]  In Florida’s own words at the core of the creative class there are ‘people in science and engineering, architecture and design, education, arts, music and entertainment, whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, and/or new creative content’, but also ‘the creative professionals in business and finance, law, healthcare and related fields. These people engage in complex problem solving that involves a great deal of independent judgment and requires high levels of education or human capital’ (Florida 2002b, p.8)

    [3] This is articulated further in the three Ts indexes: technology, talent and tolerance are the proxy by which the ability of a city to attract creative class can be measured and implemented.

    [4] For example, Montgomery (2005) suggests how Leicester becomes the second most creative city in UK, just because too much weight is put on that it has a large non-white population even if its creative economy is not developed more than other UK cities. He argues that “the only indicator that matters is the strength of a city’s creative economy, measured in the number of businesses and employees, and by the wealth they produce » (Montgomery, 2005, p.339).

     

    _____

    *Dr. Roberta Comunian is Creative Industries Research Associate at the School of Arts, University of Kent. Prior to this, she was lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton. She holds a European Doctorate title in Network Economy and Knowledge Management. She is interested in: relationship between public and private investments in the arts, art and cultural regeneration projects, cultural and creative industries, creativity and competitiveness. She has been visiting researcher at University of Newcastle investigating the relationship between creative industries, cultural policy and public supported art institutions. She has previously undertaken research on knowledge transfer and creative industries within an AHRC Impact Fellowship award at the University of Leeds.

     

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