following is based on The Creative City by Charles Landry, 2000
creative city is a city that has a brand, and reflects a personality.
Some cities tend to focus upon the long term, not follow
standardised solutions but foster individuality and creativity. Cities are
at the centre of logistics, trade and finance however creativity needs
something that enables possibility but at the same time is still secure. For
cities, especially global cities to thrive in the 21st century
there is a need for a culture of creativity - the capacity to think afresh
when your world seems to be undergoing a paradigm shift, high ambition,
entrepreneurship and opportunity, beauty and acute sensitivity to high
quality urban design all of which shape their physical and social
implies thinking through social, political, and cultural as well as
economic and technological creativity. It means power holders need to
devolve power and to trade it for creative influence within a framework of
guiding strategic principles within which it is possible to be tactically
flexible. It thus affects a city’s organisational culture. This cultural
capital represents the raw materials and scope within which the creativity
of people can operate
creative city has a diversified, sophisticated and internationally
oriented cultural industries structure that nurtures and supports a wealth
of local and international artistic activity that both are commercial,
subsidised and voluntary.
work in creative industries and the city store of talent continually
replenished through domestic and foreign immigration in order to feed this
good way of viewing a creative city is as a series of concentric circles.
These circles are largely determined by property prices.
In the hub at the centre are the high value added services -
finance and business services, retail, activities such as advertising or
estate agencies and high profile cultural institutions or the headquarters
of cultural industry organisations. Surrounding
this core is an inner urban ring which provides supply services to this
hub - be that printers, couriers, catering. It is also usually the home of
the less well-established creative industries that provide the innovative
and lively atmosphere on which cities thrive such as design companies,
young multimedia entrepreneurs even artists. It is they who tend to
experiment with new products and services. The danger is that over time
some of these inner areas themselves become gentrified. As incubating
companies grow and become more profitable they either then move into the
hub or gentrify their inner area, and in turn pushes out low value uses
such as artists or local shops that cannot afford the new higher rents.
The artists then in turn look for another low value area and so the cycle
to top of page
Identity and Distinctiveness
is about creating a distinguishing character, one that is not imitative
but draws on the unique nature of a place and its people. It seeks to
identify and strengthen that which is special about a situation, and
requires attention to detail, affection and care.
place has its potential, though it may not be obvious, particular to those
who live there. It may be physical - a geographical position, or a group
of buildings whose historic uses are etched into local memory - or
intangible, like traditions and stories, or the skills of its inhabitants.
Turning Weakness into Strength
schemes using the arts share a capacity to identify potential in the
seemingly intractable and difficult. Often this is a run-down building or
location whose structures seem inappropriate for our time.
Going Beyond Corporate Style
International Style, for all the beauty of its best work, had the damaging
effect of making our cities more uniform and bland. In its debased form of
concrete and glass slabs, it can be seen from Aberdeen to Plymouth, New
York to Caracas and Sydney to Kuala Lumpur.
But while the pendulum of architectural fashion has swung back
towards traditional materials and ‘vernacular’ styles, local character
is still under threat from the standardised corporate style of commercial
interests. People enjoy difference, variety and individuality. They flock
to markets selling things not found elsewhere. They love the drama of the
unplanned townscape, where buildings old and new, good and not so good,
tell their own long story of the town. With leisure increasingly taking
place at home and in private, towns must offer something different and
inspiring, if a more collective public life is to reemerge again which
arts-led developments have often encouraged.
to top of page
creative cities have a number of characteristics:
a clarity of purpose and ambition
visionary individuals and organizations
open-minded and willing to take risks
strategically principled and tactically flexible
determined in planning rather than deterministic, thus being
to recognize and work with local cultural resources and local
that leadership is widespread
from a high blame culture to a low blame one
Why are the cultural industries and cultural
activities now seen as important?
activity can weave its way like a thread through endeavours of all kinds
adding value, meaning, local distinctiveness and impact as it proceeds.
Making a successful partnership between the arts, culture and urban
regeneration thus requires a more imaginative understanding of arts and
culture, and the way they work:
Cultural activities create
'meaning' and thus are concerned with and embody the identity
and values of the city, both in terms of what it was and is
becoming - here the intercultural and social inclusion agenda is
moving to the fore.
activities are inextricably linked to innovation and creativity and
historically this has been the lifeblood of cities as a means of
unleashing their capacity to survive and adapt. Creativity is, of
course, legitimised in the arts and increasingly is also seen by
business as the key attribute they look for in employees.
a world dominated by images the cultural sector is inextricably linked
to the image of a place and a strong culture is believed to create
positive images. Culture is thus seen as a means of attracting
international companies and their mobile workforce who seek a vibrant
cultural life for their employees. Thus by helping to create positive
images the cultural sector has a direct impact on inward investment.
role in tourism is key, it is the primary reason a visitor comes to an
area in the first place. And tourism might be the first step that
allows someone to explore and know a place and later perhaps invest in
it. Tourism offers are largely focused on cultural activities, be this
the national collecting institutions like museums or galleries, which
exude presence and power as well as the live activities like theatre,
clubs, festivals or locally distinct rituals.
The recognition of the
cultural industries as an economic sector has become an anchor in the
debate about the future of culture. In particular their role as a
platform to provide content for the IT driven knowledge based economy.
to top of page
dilemmas policy makers face:
as the arts or culture as a way of life
as a self-justifying value or culture as an instrumental development
focus on the city centre or the inner fringe, suburbs and outer-lying
establishment of cultural districts and clustering versus spreading
and intervention driven or market driven
or production focused
infrastructure focused (containers) or activity focused (contents)
development versus community focused development
emphasis or emphasis on communities
diversity or monoculture emphasis
and tradition or innovation and contemporary culture
image focus or internal reality
or active participation in decision-making
national or international orientation
control or insulation from the political process
provision or contracting out
and foundation structures or commercial companies
control or managerial control
arts or the artist
to top of page
Involving People in Renewal
is not an end in itself: it is about people and the quality of the lives
they will be able to lead. Unless projects involve, and win the support of
local people, they cannot be sustained over time. External solutions
frequently produce only resentment and hostility. It doesn’t matter how
well local politicians, planning officers and developers understand what
they are doing, and why, if they fail to communicate any of that
understanding to their electors, employers and customers. Local ownership
of projects requires the involvement of community organisations and
leaders, and of people who don’t belong to groups or read local papers.
It is certainly a hard discipline, as many local authorities now reviewing
their consultation procedures can testify, but working with local people
is a fundamental constituent of success. It is not only essential for the
longer-term viability of a project, which may be triggered by short-term
funding, but also to inspire further ideas and participation.
Broadening the Scope of Planning
usually define the terms by which regeneration occurs through their
control of the local plan. But as they are not always able to see the town
through the lived experience of its residents, their plans tend to be
development and infrastructure-led. They are limited by professional
constructs and political constraints. Nevertheless, there is a growing recognition of arts
potential impact on urban regeneration. This increasing credibility has
enabled many arts projects to become successful in urban terms because
they have found ways of bringing together different local interests. Where
they exist, effective local authority arts committees have often played a
similar uniting role.
Striking a Balance Between Buildings and
the past decade, as urban authorities have turned to the arts for help in
supporting regeneration strategies, a debate about the relative value of
arts buildings and activities has emerged. This polarisation is not always
helpful: each has a role to play, and what is appropriate and what should
come first will depend on circumstances. However, it is clear that, given
the initial and ongoing costs of capital projects, the value of activities
such as short-term events or festivals have been underplayed. Although a
building can be a visible symbol of what has been achieved, its sheer cost
and scale can begin to define the strategy, even to the exclusion of other
activities. Demand for a building should ideally grow from the
determination of wider social and economic needs, perhaps at a later stage
in the process, and always as part of a wider development.
to top of page
Art, Culture and Creativity
From the Arts to Culture
Everything about a town is a potential resource for regeneration.
Culture is more than the arts: it is also about a lived experience of a
place and time. It focuses on what is special about a town and its people
and how can pre-figure its future.
artistic or archaeological history
built form and architectural heritage
landscape, topography, amenities, and landmarks
attractiveness and legibility of its public space
and recent ethnic traditions, accents and dialects
products and craft skills, manufacturing and services
quality of retailing, leisure, sport, and entertainment
including those of the young
of public social life, civic traditions, festival and rituals
in the traditional arts such as performing and painting
cultural industries such as film, rock music or digital technology.
short, culture is a summary term, which describes the atmosphere created
by people in confrontation with the place they live in. It is expressed in
physical form and activity. Planning is humanised when culture is given a
potential value of culture to urban renewal is evident if its complex
nature is recognised. However, in a world driven by economic imperatives,
and focused on financial measures of success, the ‘softer’ benefits of
cultural investment are easily forgotten.
The Arts and Creativity
should not see as the arts only route to creativity any more than we see
them as equivalent to culture. Creativity can make the most of our efforts
and add value and meaning to them. But it is not reserved solely to
artists - engineers, planners, social scientists, librarians, business
people can all be creative if the environment within which they operate
a successful partnership between the arts, culture and urban regeneration
requires a more imaginative understanding of culture, and the way it
works, than the traditional focus on aesthetic values generally allows.
Creating Liveable Cities: an Art-Form in
art of city making is as much a challenge for those concerned with
regeneration as it ever was. Our goal should be the city as artefact,
where designed and accidental environments of streets, buildings,
landmarks and open spaces are brought to life with human activity. Cities
are communities of people, living organisms not machines, endowed with
particular identities, community networks and social dynamics, including
economic activities, trading relations and a political community.
to top of page
Weaknesses of Some
Cultural Investment Can Only Do So Much
initiatives cannot solve every problem. In areas of severe deprivation and
unemployment a cultural initiative is only one, if vital, component of a
wider regeneration strategy, it must integrate with training, education
and economic development. The important issue is to assess realistically
what cultural programmes can do, without underestimating their subtle
Economics Above All
crude interests of the local economy and of the city as a whole do not
always coincide. Arguing that ‘what’s good for business is good for
the town’ may lead to a concentration on the use of culture only for
marketing purposes. Image campaigns with no grounding in local needs and
aspirations can backfire.
Putting the Needs of Tourists Before
the increasing emphasis on tourism development, has come awareness of the
needs to create a sustainable product, which enhances, rather than
diminishes local quality of life. Where cultural investment has created
major tourist attractions, they have sometimes courted the resentment of
local people who feel excluded on economic or social grounds.
Imitation in Pursuit of Distinctiveness
culturally led projects are essentially about enhancing local
distinctiveness, in practice they can be disappointingly imitative. The
ever present mural, the fake antique carts selling supposedly local
products, the multi-purpose arts centre, the new theatre that only a
minority of the population visit - any of these projects might be right,
but only if it coincides with local needs, assets and aspirations. It is
the local audience that provides the bedrock of a successful initiative.
Supporting the Construction Industry not the
allocated to cultural initiatives are commonly sidetracked into building
programmes. As a result an arts led regeneration initiative actually
supports the construction industry rather than people and cultural
activity. It can take years to build an opera house, or refurbish a
theatre, during which time no cultural benefit is being derived by the
local community. There may be inadequate resources to fund a full
programme work as resources are eaten up by maintenance and running costs.
to top of page
is partly because of the identified weakness in current practice, that
increasing attention has been given to cultural activity, rather than
flagship buildings. In particular, smaller cities, towns and
neighbourhoods have sought for solutions, which are appropriate to their
needs and budgets. The answer has in many cases been to support cultural
activity and participatory programmes with objectives, which are more
social than economic.
to high-profile capital projects, community-based and participatory
cultural activity is seen to have several key strengths:
activity is relatively cheap and very cost-effective.
can be developed quickly in response to local needs and ideas.
is flexible and can change as required.
offers a potentially high return for very low risk.
can have an impact out of all proportion to its cost.
has far-reaching implications for policy makers. It demands greater
emphasis and investment on arts and cultural initiatives that give people
the chance to participate actively. Being a consumer of the products of
others is enriching, but it is over-valued in relation to participation
to top of page
A Typology of
is as individual as the places in which it happens. It means very
different things in each place and city, and it is not surprising that it
should be triggered or supported by an equally wide range of cultural
The Building As Regenerator
obvious catalyst for regeneration - though not always the most successful
- is an arts building. Building projects are often initiated by local
authorities or by development agencies. They are expensive, flagship
projects, which often provoke local and national controversy. At their
best, they become hugely popular visitor attractions, which have a
symbolic and economic impact on the surrounding area. But, partly because
such large-scale projects are intended to serve regional or national
populations, they may produce mixed feelings among local people. They can
absorb scarce resources from other proposals and their running costs can
restrict future funds for cultural activities. In particular, the contrast
between the favoured area, and those beyond its boundaries can seem very
sharp, and may contribute to resentment and cynicism.
Artists’ Activity As Regenerators
projects initiated by community groups may be less dramatic, but can have
as much impact as the flagships of the state. Groups of artists joining
forces to operate from a redundant building, can trigger the regeneration
of an area through their occupation and the services they support. This
may start with a café catering for the arts community, but whose ambience
gradually becomes attractive to other residents and visitors. From small
beginnings, a whole area can develop an atmosphere attractive to small
traders and new businesses in search of cheap, lively accommodation.
Although local authorities cannot make this happen, they can create a
planning regime, which will encourage such renewal. The danger is that, as
the district is renewed, so rents and prices rise, and the artists on whom
its success was based are forced out. The skill is in maintaining
low-value uses with wider benefits such as creating liveliness in an
area, while allowing the cycle of renewal to increase property values.
Events As Regenerators
events can sometimes remind local people, council and developers of the
potential of rundown, inner-fringe districts. Possible futures are
explored by an event, which becomes the catalyst for regeneration. Over
time, some arts events have become economically successful, and their original
purpose as a spur to regeneration has been forgotten.
Planning Regulation As Regenerator
of planning regulations to direct activities within a city is not new.
Older industrial areas, for example, may have zoning policies that favour
large-scale industrial development and are seen as unsuitable for housing.
A change in use codes, e.g. to encourage residential and small business
development can have major impacts. Local authorities familiar with using
planning regulations in some contexts have not always appreciated their
value in triggering cultural developments.
Flexibility As Regenerator
other invisible regenerators that cost nothing but imply a change in
attitudes and a proactive approach to managing the culture of a city. Thus
changing licensing hours and bye-laws at festival periods allows an
authority to test their effect. Where this is beneficial, such changes
often become permanent and help change the perception of an area.
Social Confidence As Regenerator
depends on people, and their self-confidence. Time and again, arts
projects have shown how the acquisition of confidence through
participation in the arts can transform individual and communities. The
confidence acquired through participating in arts initiatives can have
other spin-offs such as enabling people to feel strong enough to get jobs
in areas not related to the arts.
Mechanisms As Regenerators
Mechanisms and schemes, drawn
from abroad or developed locally, can play a part in urban regeneration.
Among the best known is the Percent for Art scheme modelled on that
current in the USA. Through
this a proportion of building costs (usually 1%) is allocated to art. This
can improve the quality of the fabric and raise expectations of local
standards, but it is disappointing that the scheme has rarely been used to
support activity, despite the public relations potential.
The Individual As Regenerator
critical role of individuals in regeneration has already been mentioned.
Their vision, tenacity, even obsession is always a factor. When the arts
act as a regenerator there is always a project champion, though this is
true of most successful regeneration projects. Arts projects often rely
less on strategy than on intuition, but this approach is rare in
mainstream development, where the focus is on more immediate returns on
investment. Eccentricity reflects the willingness of individuals to depart
from conventional problem solving. These are creative individuals who find
it hard to operate within corporate structures.
The Artist As Regenerator
see things from a different perspective. They turn weaknesses into
strengths by recognising value in what the rest of us disregard. Artists
work by hand, manipulating their materials from paint to steel. Their
attention to detail, to the human touch, is unusual in the modern world.
They recognise the value of the individual, the different and the local.
Artists are often more committed to the communities in which they live and
work than those whose occupations require them to move around.
usually do not have a job in the conventional sense. They are
self-employed, living by applying a range of transferable skills to the
different opportunities, which arise. An economic lifestyle, which once
challenged convention seems increasingly sustainable in a world of
short-term contracts, retraining and the need for adaptable skills. But
perhaps the major contribution artists can make to the regeneration
process is to give others the confidence to be creative too. The task is
to help everyone involved in local development feel the confidence to express
their creative visions rather than accept existing assumptions.
Marketing As Regenerator
marketing process itself can be part of the regeneration dynamic.
Although the initial artistic project may be small, marketing can
be used to maximise its impact. So the success of one event gives confidence
to take on bolder projects, creating a virtuous cycle of initiatives.
The Organisation As Regenerator
The presence of an arts
organisation can be invaluable to a town or city, and not only for its
actual work. Art organisation can popularise the use of art in public
places as a means of creating better quality environments and affected the
thinking of many local authorities. National organisations can change how
decision-makers look at problems in the first place.
Related Web Sites