Did the ‘Creative City’ ever Happen?
On Contradictions and Complexities of the ‘Creative Economy’ Imaginary in Cities

Dr. Janet MERKEL (City, University of London)

Since the 1980s, the ‘creative economy’ imaginary (O’Connor, 2015) has captured the political imagination in cultural and economic policymaking on the urban, regional, national and supranational level. Especially in cities, culture and creativity have become a subject to policy interventions and measurements to promote the economic potential of culture and creative industries under the notion of the creative economy. The revaluation of culture and creativity have given rise to the ‘creative city’ idea (see Florida, 2004; Hall, 1998; Landry & Bianchini, 1995), an urban development approach based on culture and creativity. Ever since, ‘creative city’ strategies have had a ubiquitous presence in urban development and marketing discourses and led to a variegated research literature on ‘creative cities’. Their proliferation and implementation in urban policies produced a wide range of academic critique, which in turn has hardly found entrance into the implementation of creative city strategies. Recent publications suggest that the ‘creative city’ has to be critically reassessed or even abandoned as the socially and culturally progressive notions of the ‘creative city’ have been lost in urban economic growth agendas (Mould, 2015; O’Connor & Shaw, 2014). Furthermore, there has been surprisingly little attempts to understand the organisational novelty of culture and creative industries and the subsequent consequences for their governance in cities (Pratt, 2012). My contribution to the symposium will explore some of the various social, cultural, economic and political contradictions within conceptual and political approaches of ‘creative cities.’ In particular, it will address the prevailing ‘creativity policy gap’ (Borén & Young, 2013; Trip & Romein, 2014) and the lack of governance debates, and will discuss this briefly through the empirical case of Berlin.



Historicizing the Creative Economy Beyond the City:
Power, Discourse, Materialization

Prof. Dr. Ilja VAN DAMME (University of Antwerpen)

This paper critically challenges the current creative city debate from a historical perspective. It questions why we automatically look at cities as being principle agents of cultural and creative production. What processes have been at work historically before the predominance of cities in nurturing creativity and innovation was presumed and established? The paper proposes to look at the ‘creative city’ as not being an objective or ontological reality, but rather a complex and heterogenic ‘assemblage’, in which material, infrastructural and spatial elements become historically entangled with power-laden discourses, narratives and imaginaries about the cultural and creative industries, and the actors and places where innovation and creativity is bound to take shape.



The Creative Industries as a Tool for City Making.
The Case of Plaine Commune, the “Territoire de la Culture et de la Creation” (North of Paris)

Dr. Elsa VIVANT (University Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée)

Many researches have shown how the metropolis can offer economic advantage to creative industries that can be engines for local economic development. In this presentation, I will focus on the case of a northern suburb of Paris, Plaine Commune, to show how creative industries can be a tool for planning itself. This former industrial city is redeveloping its economy toward service industry for more than twenty years. Recently, this had reframed its territorial development project under the name of “Territoire de la Culture et de la Creation”. I will first explain the context of this reorientation and especially the cultural contexts. Then I’ll show how real estate developers are also considering the development of spaces for creative industries as a tool in their negotiations with public authorities. I will at the end discuss to what extend do local creative professionals appreciate this new role they are supposed to play.



From Defining Submarkets Towards Understanding Value Creations

Prof. Christoph WECKERLE (ZHdK, Zurich)

Different underlying narratives of value creation motivate multiple understandings of the creative economies. The combination of micro- and macro-approaches is one possible way to better understand practices and processes in this field. Based on our observations in different regions of the world we suggest a reframing of the established definitions by submarkets and, therefore, a stronger focus on the intersections with other industries. Such an approach will give importance to some of the key competences of the actors in the creative economies and will contribute to a better understanding of their ecosystem.