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The role of creative industries in regeneration


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A paper produced for the former regional centre of excellence, Renew Northwest, by the academic Justin O'Connor and edited and designed by my company, NS+. Published here because Renew Northwest has been closed, its archive fragmented, and lessons have still not been learned.

Published in: Real Estate

The role of creative industries in regeneration

  1. 1. RENEW Intelligence Report April 2006 Creative cities The role of creative industries in regeneration Dr Justin O’Connor Manchester Institute for Popular Culture Manchester Metropolitan University Creative industries v9.indd 1 22/3/06 16:03:10
  2. 2. RENEW Intelligence Report Introduction and key messages RENEW Northwest is publishing a series of Does anyone take creative industries seriously? This might papers based on current good practice in seem a strange question. Creative industries are widely regeneration. They aim to provide leaders, hailed as a driving force for the transformation of run- practitioners and professionals in Northwest down cities. But scratch the surface and it becomes clear regeneration with accessible, evidence that very few policymakers are paying proper attention to based summaries of ‘what works’ in order the health of the sector – an attitude that may have direct to inform their own activities. Compiled economic consequences. by a respected researcher in the field, their Ever since the 1970s, our declining, post-industrial cities have been looking to culture for a new future. intention is to draw on current research to New Labour’s victory in 1997 was a turning point; one challenge current practice and suggest new year later the Department for Culture, Media and Sport ways to build sustainable communities in the launched its mapping document, pushing for creative region. industries to be written into cultural and economic strategy. Now the creative industries are part of mainstream British policy. There are UK consultants across the globe. But none of this is evidence that we will continue to succeed in this area. On the contrary, there is a real danger of failure. Unless we can develop a clear strategy for the sector, we are not going to survive the growing competition from China and other developing countries. We think of China as the place of cheap manufacture; we should be looking at how it is developing its creative and cultural industries. China’s approach does not include all the rhetoric of the new economy into which we have bought. Deregulation, self-employment, and the predominance of service over manufacturing have been given a bright sheen through the creative industries in the UK, but may look very different in Asia. Our vague promotion of ‘entrepreneurialism’ and ‘creative clusters’ might not be enough. 2 Creative industries v9.indd 2 22/3/06 16:03:14
  3. 3. Creative cities: the role of creative industries in regeneration This paper attempts to make a clear case for the dimensions; past failures to do so have reduced the role of creative industries in the future of our towns creative spatial potential of city centres and cities, but also argues that some difficult choices ● Cities drive the creative industries, but there are real have to be made. Many have argued that the creative opportunities to connect metropolitan creative input industries bring together culture and economics, but with dispersed manufacturing and non-creative inputs this is not the reduction of one to the other. Both are across the region abstractions. The creative industries operate within a ● Creativity is a critical but neglected resource in other complex ecosystem that involves not just artists and industry sectors business people, but almost every area of urban life. ● Intermediary agencies which are close to the sector ‘It is almost In many ways the new city centres of the Northwest must be able to broker intelligent interventions at all and beyond are operating dysfunctionally. It is almost levels involving partners with different priorities and impossible to impossible to conceive of a regenerated city without new approaches conceive of a or refurbished buildings and a more buoyant property ● Building successful clusters takes time and requires market – benefits fuelled by the growth of creative subtle, informed and sustained interventions within a regenerated city industries. But this very boom in real estate may kill the partnership structure spaces and places of culture, just as it can exacerbate ● Cultural dimensions of the creative industries should without new or social divisions in terms of employment and living space. not be underplayed – they create both tensions and Both threaten the long-term viability of cities. opportunities for economic development and civic refurbished buildings Before we deal with some of these difficult issues, wellbeing and a more buoyant we need to trace the history of the terms cultural and ● Cultural industries can help kick-start property led creative industries to understand what we mean by them, regeneration, but without effective planning are driven out property market and how their usage has shifted. Once we have done by high land values and incompatible new uses this, we will look at how they have been seen to link ● Creative industry strategies must prioritise investment, – benefits fuelled to the local economy and what potential they seem to with large scale interventions including micro and small by the growth of hold. Finally, we will look at some of the key issues facing businesses, requiring excellent research evidence and a Northwest England in promoting creative industries. sophisticated approach creative industries’ ● Agencies supporting creative industries must navigate The key lessons for practitioners that emerge from this tensions between backing existing winners and those with report include the following: unrealised potential and balance immediate economic returns with wider enhancement of the cultural milieu. ● Creative industries create economic value in cities, but require sustained and cumulative intelligence and experience which balances economic and cultural 3 Creative industries v9.indd 3 22/3/06 16:03:17
  4. 4. RENEW Intelligence Report What is ‘culture’? had been sacred, copied by hand, objects of great We cannot examine the creative industries without a clear value.The printing press understanding of what we mean by culture. Raymond changed all this – but how Williams, an early pioneer in the field of cultural studies, gave were their production and us three possible definitions.1 First, he said, the word ‘culture’ distribution to be organised? is used to mean a whole way of life, including customs Who paid whom, and for and traditions. Second, it can also mean a certain level of what exactly? On what basis understanding or knowledge, including scientific, artistic and was the writer to be paid? What was ‘intellectual property’ (a spiritual traditions. Finally, culture also refers to particular hot topic then as it is now)? products with symbolic or aesthetic value. These were difficult legal questions, at a time when The ‘cultural industries’ refer to particular cultural ‘property’ itself was hardly well defined. But they reflected products when they are turned into commodities that can a wider uncertainty. Does value reflect the paper and the be bought and sold.Their market value derives ultimately ink and the time taken to make and set the presses, or the from their cultural value: two different CDs or oil paintings creative work of the author? Where is the money made, can involve the same physical material and the same labour who has the whip hand, which functions turn out to be but command vastly different prices. How cultural value dispensable? These issues still vex cultural economists today. becomes exchange value is the key question for the cultural Just as new business models affect the production of industries. It is both an economic and a cultural question cultural commodities, so technological progress can bring – neither can be reduced to the other. about dramatic changes in business.Think of the way LP ‘Just as new business The rise of cultural commodity production has been long records affected sheet music publishing. Nowadays, computing and complex; here we can point to three key aspects. and communication technologies are having a profound effect, models affect First, there is reproduction. Unique ‘artistic’ products shifting the pattern of money making and control. could always be traded. But it was reproduction that allowed Business innovation can also have startling results.Think the production of them to become commodities in the true sense. Metal of how the production of vinyl LPs also transformed the cultural commodities, casting was an early example of this, but it was the invention music market.Today, despite our computer-dominated world, of printing that really allowed the mass reproduction of book publishing is thriving as never before, as are many so technological cultural commodities to take off.This was followed by performing arts with long historical roots. Grasping how photography, film and, most amazing of all, the capture of these changes intertwine is the key to understanding the progress can bring sound on wax discs. Now digital technology holds out nature of contemporary cultural industries. about dramatic possibilities we are only just beginning to grasp. There is a third dimension, which is the sociocultural The second crucial dimension is the emergence of new context of cultural commodity production.This is a vast changes in business’ business models around these cultural commodities. Books area – culture as a ‘whole way of life’.To take an obvious 4 Creative industries v9.indd 4 22/3/06 16:03:22
  5. 5. Creative cities: the role of creative industries in regeneration between the wars was, for him, a sign that monopoly ‘Academics tried capitalism had now invaded ‘culture’. Whereas before culture was the realm of leisure and of freedom of the to investigate just spirit, now it had become part of the system. According to Adorno, culture had become a sausage factory. how this “culture This idea of mass culture and the destructive effects industry” worked of ‘the culture industry’ gained a lot of ground in the 1960s. Academics tried to investigate just how this ‘culture and all agreed that example, it is impossible to think about cultural commodity industry’ worked and all agreed that the term was far production apart from the rise of capitalism, just as it is too blunt an instrument to describe what was going on, the term was far too impossible to think about the rise of democracy without the and that a more diverse and complex notion of ‘cultural blunt an instrument emergence of a public sphere sustained by the media. industries’ was called for. In the same way, the relationship between the sphere Four aspects stood out. First, the different branches to describe what was of art and culture and that of commerce and industry has of the cultural industries involved different conditions of not been straightforward. In the past, the links were rarely production and consumption. For example, the book trade going on’ acknowledged and frequently denied. Often the rallying call involves buying and selling individual commodities, whereas of art was precisely against the sordid world of commerce radio may be available completely free and make its money and industry. through advertising. In both these areas, as well as in This is not something we would uphold today. On the newspapers, concerts, films, exhibitions, and so on, value is contrary, the links between the two are actively sought and created and distributed in quite diverse ways and with a promoted by the highest levels of government. But we must complex mix of public and private finance. be careful to avoid thinking that the two can simply click Second, it was clear by the late 1960s and 1970s that together seamlessly. there was a constant need for innovation. This meant that the techniques of mass production simply did not work in From Kulturkritic to new economy the cultural industries. This leads to the third aspect, which was that the The term ‘culture industry’ was first used by the German ‘artists’ – the creators of new products – were still very Marxist critic Theodore Adorno during the Second World much at a premium. More than that, only very rarely had War, and further developed over the following 20 years. they become employees on a salary; most were freelance It was a deliberately polemical term, linking the new wave or contracted for a specific amount of product over of industrial mass production (often called ‘Fordism’, after a specified time. Though the picture was complex, the Henry Ford) to a new kind of mass culture. origination function seemed to have remained at a pre- The rapid growth of cultural commodity production Fordist, ‘artisanal’ level. 5 Creative industries v9.indd 5 22/3/06 16:03:25
  6. 6. RENEW Intelligence Report Managing this creative function, and the pool of ‘The consumption At the same time, there was a general shift in the ‘creatives’ on which they relied, were a range of advanced economies from manufacturing to service ‘intermediaries’ – sometimes directly employed, sometimes of cultural goods industries, which emphasised close attention to customers’ themselves freelance – who helped link them to the larger needs. This ‘new economy’ was seen to be about cultural industry concerns and often had to mediate became part of an innovation, creativity, flexibility, reflexivity, responsiveness between different requirements within these firms, such as – precisely those qualities exemplified in the cultural marketing and accounting. increasingly industries. Cultural industries began to be seen not as This function was made all the more vital because of self-conscious a quaint artisanal survival in a world of modern mass the fourth aspect, which was the unpredictability of the production but as cutting edge examples of precisely what cultural commodity market. Unlike sausage production, and individualised this new economy demanded. each new product was made in anticipation of the cultural The other side to this is the proliferation of new value it would demand in the future. But cultural value is construction of technologies and new business models in the creation, extremely volatile, subject to changing accidents of fashion “lifestyle” and distribution and consumption of cultural goods: hi-fi, video, and taste. Many products failed. digital, satellite, CDs, DVDs, pay-for-view, samplers, video “identity”.’ and computer games, laptops, iPods, online shopping – the Cultural industries as new economy list is endless and marks a transformation in the relative importance of the cultural commodity economy. The late 1980s witnessed a new wave of interest in the cultural industries. The buzzword had now become Creative industries ‘post-Fordism’. There was a shift from mass production to ‘flexible specialisation’ for niche markets. Advances in This transformation has given rise to the renaming of the information and communication technologies, as well as a cultural industries as ‘creative industries’, a term used by re-regulation of international markets and finance, meant the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in its 1998 that production and distribution were now operating at a Creative Industries Mapping Document. It intended to more global level. Competition for access to more global highlight these changes in cultural commodity production markets was increasing at local and regional level. A new emphasis on market knowledge went hand in hand with a new approach to the positioning of products in this market. Increasingly it was the ‘image’ of products that counted, not just their functional attributes. The consumption of cultural goods became part of an increasingly self-conscious and individualised construction of ‘lifestyle’ and ‘identity’. 6 Creative industries v9.indd 6 22/3/06 16:03:27
  7. 7. Creative cities: the role of creative industries in regeneration and to link them to wider notions of the ‘information’ or some more spectacular visions emerged for the use of arts ‘new’ economy. and culture to revitalise run-down areas. This emphasises the key role of information and In the United States, cities had begun to respond to the knowledge services within the new global system, services demands of city-to-city competition for inward investment drawing extensively on creativity and innovation. ‘Creativity’ and skilled labour by emphasising their cultural and leisure migrated beyond classical cultural industries to a more attractions, usually anchored around a flagship development. pervasive sense that innovation, intuition, ‘out of the box’ Pittsburgh got a new symphony hall and art gallery; Boston thinking, rule breaking, even rebellion – all traditional and Baltimore new waterfronts. Not only did these new attributes of ‘artistic’ production – were to be crucial cultural developments contribute to the city’s image and components of the new economy as a whole. competitiveness, they could also redevelop degraded parts This has led to some fairly big claims about the creative of the city; and they could do so by using public money to industries representing a new economic model. Richard lever in private investment. Florida, author of the best-seller The rise of the creative class, In the late 1980s, Barcelona gave this a European spin argued that capitalism was moving from a system defined when it used its successful Olympics bid as a platform to by large companies to a more people-driven one, where reposition itself as a vibrant, energetic, forward-looking ideas and innovation were paramount.2 As a result, it is city. Glasgow built on much of this when it revolutionised ‘Gradually some argued, creative industries should come under economic the European City of Culture idea to present itself as a more spectacular policy as much as, maybe more than, cultural policy. new vibrant city. Manchester and Liverpool have followed. Economic impact studies also abounded, stressing visions emerged for Creativity and the post-industrial city employment and other benefits, but in general these were used to justify spending on arts projects and little the use of arts and How then do the creative industries relate to the city and real thought was given to the promotion of cultural culture to revitalise what possibilities do they hold out for urban regeneration? production itself. Policy thinking was largely developed in the cities. More sustained strategies for the development of local run-down areas’ The Greater London Council of 1980-86 was among the production did not begin to take off until the mid-90s. first to acknowledge the contribution creative industries could make to a vibrant local culture and a thriving local The creative city economy. It aimed to give more support to creative individuals and small businesses in order to develop local In the 1990s, cities moved from being ‘basket cases’ employment and wealth creation. to becoming the drivers of the new post-industrial After 1986, these ideas were picked up by other cities economy. If the global economy was about networks trying to cope with rapid industrial decline, but new and flows – of capital, information, goods and services, initiatives were very diverse and fragmented. Gradually people, ideas, images – then it was cities which acted as 7 Creative industries v9.indd 7 22/3/06 16:03:30
  8. 8. RENEW Intelligence Report key nodes and command centres. ‘More formal Creative industries are constituted through networks. The new global cities tended to be the old global cities They can provide informal support, just as they can reinvented – New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo, networking is provide the context in which relations of trust and risk are Hong Kong – while the older industrial cities were being managed. More formal networking is increasingly used to outstripped by new cities and regions. The latter were increasingly used articulate needs to the local policy context, and to develop marked by networks of small firms thriving through shared to articulate needs sectoral initiatives and projects. Networks explain why services, by a common pool of available labour and skills, the large majority of creative employment in the sector is and by steadily accumulated ‘tacit’ knowledge, a certain to the local policy located in metropolitan areas (around 70 per cent across ‘know-how’ that was difficult to transfer to other areas. the UK).5 Michael Porter, a world authority on competitive context, and to Freelancers and micro businesses – ‘the independents’ strategy, drew on the work of the late 19th century develop sectoral – often began as part of a localised ‘scene’, and this gave economist Alfred Marshall to explain why certain ‘industrial them an insider’s knowledge of the volatile and localised districts’ managed to remain competitive despite the rapid initiatives and logic of cultural consumption. In creative milieus, these changes in technologies and markets.3 Marshall used the active consumers became active producers of cultural word ‘atmosphere’ to describe those special qualities projects’ products; there were spaces, people, networks, exemplars, adhering to place which gave companies in the area a experiences, institutions on which to build – and these competitive edge. Porter used the term ‘clusters’ to point formed part of the creative assets of a city or locale. to similar contemporary effects – groups of companies in As a result, independent producers were able to competition and collaboration, thriving in a particular place construct a new sense of identity and purpose, using the and sharing its common attributes.4 mix of cultural and commercial knowledge which this Work on the creative industries was pointing in similar new form of cultural production necessarily involved. The directions. Research showed that the creative industry mix of emotional investment and calculation, of creativity sector had a significant proportion of small companies and and routine, of making money and making meaning, of freelancers, all highly networked with each other and with operating in a volatile, risky environment, using networks the larger, often transnational companies. of trust and of information – all these have to be learned by producers, though this is tacit rather than formal learning. This kind of embedded knowledge is equally part of the creative assets of a locality. It is no surprise that creative industries have held out hope for the post-industrial city. In a 8 Creative industries v9.indd 8 22/3/06 16:03:34
  9. 9. Creative cities: the role of creative industries in regeneration sense, creative industries could not only be a source of Creative industry strategy in England's ‘It is no surprise that employment in their own right; their success could be Northwest emblematic of a wider creativity and forward looking creative industries vision. Indeed, they are seen to act as catalysts for In the introduction I talked about how China is beginning similar creative energy in other sectors, and have a to look at more ‘value-added’ activities, and that the have held out hope direct, tangible impact on the image value of towns or creative industries are becoming a key concern. However, for the post- cities, increasing real estate values, tourism, and inward the Chinese government does not simply talk vaguely migration. about ‘creativity’: its strategy is comprehensive, far-sighted, industrial city’ Employment in the creative industries in metropolitan ambitious, well resourced and intelligent. areas is between 4 per cent and 7 per cent of total It builds partnerships with research centres in employment. If we add tourism, hospitality and sport, all universities and the larger companies, and makes use of all of which form part of the new leisure infrastructure of sorts of international expertise. It takes in the full range of our towns and cities, this proportion rises to one in five leisure, tourist, sporting, entertainment, ‘high cultural’, and and beyond. ‘creative’ industry sectors But this has also made the process more difficult. The and is prepared to broker idea of the ‘creative city’, which refers both to the creative large joint ventures and ● Creative Northwest: industries and to the wider innovation and vision of the create media conglomerates Chinatown, Manchester city, involves a mix of public and private investment, and of of a scale commensurate economic and cultural policies. Indeed, it seems clear that with its huge ambitions cultural commodity production – and indeed these wider and geographical size. For abilities of cites to be innovative, competitive and creative example, the Chaoyang – may depend on those other aspects of culture: culture District of Beijing is set to as a ‘level of knowledge and understanding’, and culture ‘as host one of the world’s a whole way of life’. largest media and creative But how is something as amorphous as ‘local culture’ industry parks with mobilised, how do we map, how do we intervene in local investment that dwarfs ‘knowledge and understanding’ especially when it includes anything in Europe. 6 tacit knowledge, atmosphere, and all the informal and I am not suggesting we complex networks of urban life? look to copy a ‘Chinese These are difficult questions and suggest a redrawing model’. But we are in no Manchester’s Chinatown was relaunched in October of the understanding and policy processes of cities in the position to be complacent. 2005 as a centre for culture and tourism. The £120,000 new millennium. But at this point it might be more useful What makes us think that project, run by Manchester City Centre Management to focus on the task in hand in the Northwest of England. our failure to deal with the Company, aimed to make the area safer and cleaner. 9 Creative industries v9.indd 9 22/3/06 16:03:36
  10. 10. RENEW Intelligence Report ‘Too much of the crisis in manufacturing stands us in good stead to develop careers rather than looking for steady jobs. the creative industries strategically? ‘Creativity’, that word which bears so many of the cultural and creative Too much of the cultural and creative industry agenda hopes for the post-industrial economy, becomes a central is driven by an idea of windfall gain – ‘manufacturing strategic vision. But talk of ‘creativity’ frequently comes industry agenda is has gone but aren’t we creative!’ We may be, but that without any analysis of the increasingly difficult national isn’t enough. Others are mobilising their creativity with and international context in which creative industries now driven by an idea of capacities of intervention we no longer possess. operate. windfall gain’ Since the 1980s the UK has chosen to abandon most The creative industry sector is not a soft option, of its tools of economic management other than those something to promote half-heartedly in the absence of of macro-economic fiscal policy. Deregulated labour anything better. As a potentially crucial economic sector, it markets and the removal of bureaucratic barriers to demands concerted action. If the Northwest is serious in competitiveness were accompanied by a severe restriction its pursuit of a creative industries agenda, it needs to begin of local economic to think clearly about its strategic objectives. development powers. I want to outline some key areas where I think some ● Creative Northwest: The ‘creative hard thinking needs to be done. economy’ has often been Anfield, Liverpool seen as enshrining the National, regional, sub-regional, local? The Harmony Suite, ideals of a free market First, there are the spatial questions. Creative industries a production by of ideas, innovation, are relatively concentrated in the metropolitan cores of playwright Nicholas entrepreneurship and Greater Manchester and Merseyside. Kelly and arts global trade. And if Understanding the role of these two key drivers is, agency Collective the fragmentation and in part, to understand how they relate to the rest of Encounters, brought deregulation of the labour the region – their importance as centres of cultural a derelict street in market had its downsides, consumption, of inspiration and energy; as places which Anfield, Liverpool, the creative industries attract and sustain regional creative talent and enterprise; to life. The play, were its upside; in this as providers of key creative business and ancillary services based on themes of sector there were high (legal, financial, marketing etc.) in the region; and as part of urban regeneration, levels of self-employment, a regional supply chain. involved 12 months’ dense clusters of micro- This last seems to me a crucial aspect of intelligent research with more businesses whose intervention at a regional level.The creative industries use a than 500 local personnel seemed to lot of manufactured and non-cultural service inputs, such as residents. move around freely, and packaging, printing, and distribution. Many of these, though individuals built portfolio sourced locally, are manufactured elsewhere; but others 10 Creative industries v9.indd 10 22/3/06 16:03:39
  11. 11. Creative cities: the role of creative industries in regeneration are regionally produced. A regional strategy should not shy away from What connections might ● Creative Northwest: Manchester prioritising investment in the two conurbations, or, indeed, there be between the Manchester’s Piccadilly between them if necessary: Liverpool’s City of Culture bid high-end ‘creative’ input Gardens, part of the deservedly got region-wide support. A regional strategy (metropolitan) and those transformation of the city also has to recognise when region-wide interventions are other more regionally centre, was shortlisted for the not useful. For example, region-wide marketing or image scattered inputs? prime minister’s Better Public strategies may have little value for the creative industries, This is not just about Building award in 2003 and whose identity is linked more to the local city or to the how to encourage creative was featured last year in a UK as a whole. The ability to shift between appropriate industries to use regional photographic exhibition, Public scales – regional, metropolitan, sub-regional ecologies – and materials and services, and Prized, celebrating some to find the appropriate partnerships to do so will be the but also about how to of the best public spaces mark of an intelligent regional strategy. encourage manufacturing across the UK. and other industries to Large or small interventions? look to the services of the creative sector – especially This question of scale also applies to levels of intervention. in design – and to their example in terms of innovation. As we have seen, the creative industry sector is a complex The initiatives around regional fashion and textiles are the combination of a few large-scale producers, commissioners beginnings of such a longer term vision. The interactive and distributors surrounded by clusters of small and micro growth of metropolitan design and regional manufacturing businesses. It is complex because both the large and the has been crucial to areas such as Milan/Lombardy, small operate at local and global levels. Barcelona/Catalonia, Helsinki/Uusimaa; its absence can be The tendency in the UK has been to stress the small seen in ceramics in Stoke and clothing and footwear in the companies, which are seen to be the innovative end of the Northwest. This is now being recognised at national level sector, and leave the larger companies to their own – and since the publication of the review of design in business by the market’s – devices. But in fact interventions on the larger Sir George Cox. 7 scale should not be ignored, though they are more risky. And what about the ever-growing competition from ‘Interventions on the This is not to imply support for a few showcase London? Whether we allow London to absorb the cultural projects, nor that we should ignore the small business economy of the rest of England is a national question, and larger scale should sector in the search for big clients. Large-scale intervention responses have to come from that level also – hence the has to include the small and micro-business sector, but this importance of the BBC’s decision to invest in Manchester, not be ignored, demands some more subtle means. It is no good trying to or the tardiness of the West Coast main line, and so on. though they are ‘pick winners’ from a multitude of potentials – we have to But in the meantime some decisions can be taken at the make sure that the ecosystem as a whole is healthy. regional level. more risky’ Primary among these is the use of intermediary 11 Creative industries v9.indd 11 22/3/06 16:03:41
  12. 12. RENEW Intelligence Report organisations. Gaining The answer demands clear research and reflection among knowledge of how ● Creative Northwest: Runcorn academics, industry representatives and policymakers, creative businesses with a view to developing a robust strategic direction operate, and where specifically for the creative industries at regional level. Have intervention might add we the potential, how can we build on this, what should value, takes time. Effective we drop? intervention demands active collaboration with Economic or cultural priorities? adequately resourced If a lot of what I say suggests that a regional strategy must intermediary agencies. rely heavily on local urban interventions by intermediary Intermediary agencies, agencies, then this is deliberate. It is not just that the such as ACME in Liverpool creative sector is concentrated in urban areas, but much of and CIDS in Manchester, Runcorn’s award-winning Brindley Arts Centre contains a its ‘support infrastructure’ is inseparable from that of the are crucial in the delivery theatre, cinema, gallery space, digital imaging centre and urban milieu. of regional strategies darkroom. It was opened in 2004, with funding from the The things that contribute to a vibrant, creative local – they have the necessary Arts Council and Northwest Regional Development Agency. sector are part of the wider cultural assets of a city knowledge, experience and – its sense of identity, its record shops, its libraries and local contacts. They are under-resourced because their bookshops, museums and galleries, its open spaces and budgets are often tied to ‘small business development’ with tolerance of diverse lifestyles, its schools and universities. very narrowly defined outputs and forms of intervention. Creative industry strategies need to locate their activities Intermediary organisations need to be seen as strategic within the wider cultural provision for cities – and the agents for an effective regional strategy – with resources cultural provision for towns or rural districts too. to reflect this. But we also need to identify where the specific value of a creative industry intervention lies. Academic evidence Being realistic about intervention ‘The things that and experience on the ground suggests there is no quick An intelligent handling of scale should also come with an contribute to a way to develop a local cluster. The global metropolitan understanding of the limits of intervention. A vision for centres remain leaders in the field; newcomers (such as the creative industries must be realistic.You cannot make vibrant, creative local Manchester in music or Antwerp in fashion) have to work another Hollywood. Are regional film strategies realistic hard to hang on to their gains. Intervention needs to be in the face of increased global competition – not from sector are part of subtle, sustained and within a partnership structure, and Hollywood but from all those other ‘locations’ and post- the wider cultural assessed within a context of informed knowledge focused production paradises now touted on the world market? on outcomes rather than short term measures. We could ask similar questions of TV, music and fashion. assets of a city’ The specific contribution of a creative industries 12 Creative industries v9.indd 12 22/3/06 16:03:43
  13. 13. Creative cities: the role of creative industries in regeneration ‘Cultural businesses strategy is always to stress the economic dimension. But focus on immediate economic returns or do we also look it is vital not to ignore the cultural dimension. Any cultural to enhance the wider cultural dimensions of the creative themselves are often product will have an uncertain future: it is a gamble on its milieu? How do we account for high levels of business cultural value for a consumer-led market which is volatile, failure or an unwillingness to pursue business growth at torn between their fragmented, unpredictable and always demanding the ‘new’. all costs – characteristics of the most successful creative The knowledge required to produce such goods is linked clusters – in the language of economic indicators used by commitment to to a close understanding of these cultural dynamics; and development agencies? cultural innovation it is a knowledge in which the rational and emotional are These sorts of questions dog creative industry agencies difficult to separate. as they try to satisfy funding agencies or switch limited and financial reality’ Cultural businesses themselves are often torn between resources between different priorities. It is often said that their commitment to cultural innovation and financial the difference between creative businesses and the public reality. The opposition is more than just ‘art’ versus sector agencies supporting them is that for the latter it ‘money’ – it is about the conditions under which you is just a job, and thus without risk. There is a truth in this want to make money. Getting the right mix of culture which it would be unwise to ignore. and business is often an ethical question which reflects But it is not the whole truth. Creative development lifestyle, ambition, identity agencies have their own risks and ambitions, differently and the surrounding ethos structured, differently rewarded, but which come with a ● Creative Northwest: Sefton of the creative milieu. These certain emotional investment in the sector they are trying Another Place, Antony tensions are not just the to support. Evidence shows that being close to the sector, Gormley’s installation of 100 mark of small businesses having personnel that understand both the economic and statues on a Merseyside and freelancers; they also cultural dynamics of the sector, and having management beach, has drawn thousands characterise some of the structures that are open to the input, scrutiny and of visitors to a previously biggest creative industry criticism of the sector, go a long way to ensuring this neglected part of Sefton and companies. commitment. illustrated how cultural activity Creative industries can transform the image and agencies must also navigate Property led regeneration and creative spaces reputation of an area. South these tensions. Do we Urban regeneration is most often viewed in terms of Sefton Development Trust concentrate on those physical regeneration, and often with good reason. But worked with a wide range companies or sectors there are real problems if physical regeneration comes to of local partners to bring that are making the most dominate the policy – and the urban – landscape. From Another Place to Merseyside money or on those that the 1980s, big regeneration projects have relied heavily on before the installation moves might make money in a flagship arts or heritage developments, such as the Lowry to New York. few years’ time? Do we in Salford, or Tate Modern in Liverpool, which anchor 13 Creative industries v9.indd 13 22/3/06 16:03:44
  14. 14. RENEW Intelligence Report related leisure and shopping facilities as well as offices The Northern Quarter in Manchester and Duke Street/ and apartments. These generate business – rental value, Bold Street in Liverpool are classic examples of their sort tax returns, employment – and have profound impacts on and crucial to the creative ecology of these cities. Both property markets. areas were written off by developers and city councils, but But there are some real problems. First, the brought back from the edge of dereliction by creative users sustainability of some of these new institutions is who transformed these into key cultural assets. questionable, and many are in financial trouble. Second, However, the benefits of such ‘bottom-up’ the local impact in terms of employment, wealth regeneration – as in SoHo in New York, or Hoxton generation and appeal has been frequently questioned, in London – went not to the creatives but to the as have the wider benefits to the city. Indeed, much of developers; the transformation of unwanted areas into the content of these new developments aims for global cool and happening places presaged a rapid rise in prestige and recognition, competing on an ever more property values. It is now widely accepted that such ‘cool crowded stage. We could call this the ‘Guggenheim effect’ places’ are key drivers of the city centre property market. after Bilbao’s meteoric rise to international profile based The pitching of city centre accommodation in terms on its art gallery; but the impact of these diminishes as of the cultural vibrancy of urban living has led to an each new one opens. explosion of city centre populations in UK cities, with Local regeneration Manchester and Liverpool at the forefront. ● Creative Northwest: Liverpool is often represented Creative industries create economic value in cities, by an ability to host an but real estate remains the prime measure of success. artistic product which The centres of Manchester and Liverpool have been was not made locally, has transformed at the expense of much of their creative little local consumption spatial potential. and will make little The inability of UK cities to address this problem is impact on local cultural still all too evident. Claims for a creative, cultural city as dynamics. Frequently the economically crucial are at odds with the reality of day instrumental mentality with to day decision-making in favour of the city centre real which this cultural content estate market and a lack of regeneration planning to is handled diminishes even nurture the creative industries. Children in Liverpool used willow trees to mark the end this – with local councils of Sea Liverpool 2005, part of the city’s run-up to the undermining the autonomy Final thoughts Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008. Models of a of curators or simply lighthouse and a boat were installed in the playground not providing adequate Our reserves of ‘creativity’ should not be taken for granted; of Lawrence Community Primary School. resources. they depend on a complex ecosystem that has grown 14 Creative industries v9.indd 14 22/3/06 16:03:46
  15. 15. Creative cities: the role of creative industries in regeneration organism. A creative industries strategy requires an ● Creative Northwest: Salford understanding of both economic and cultural dimensions. The Lowry has been a Its function is not to stress the former and leave the major catalyst in the latter to the arts boards, it is to stress how the economic economic regeneration dimension actually works in conjunction with wider of Salford Quays. The culture: not just the ‘arts’ but the whole social and spatial arts and leisure complex milieu in which it operates. has attracted extensive This makes it the opposite of a soft option. It’s commercial, shopping, extremely difficult because it crosses boundaries leisure and residential and messes up neat administrative piles. It demands ‘Our reserves of development to the sustained and cumulative intelligence and experience “creativity” should adjacent site, as well dispersed across a number of different organisations; and as the Imperial War it demands partnerships with organisations that have not be taken for Museum across the different operational logics and priorities. It all makes for River Irwell. complexity, fine judgment and risky decisions, but this is granted; they depend the only way to operate in such a field as this. And lacking on a complex a one party state or indeed those other more directive up organically. The nature of culture is that it will go on tools of regional economic development which other ecosystem that has evolving in such a way, but this does not mean that there countries have retained, we have to make these complex can be no intervention. partnerships work, because they are all we’ve got. ● grown up organically’ China believes that with the right levels of economic and managerial intervention it can capitalise on its huge potential internal market for cultural products and use References 5 Pratt A. The cultural industries production ‘creativity’ to drive industrial transformation. There are system: a case study of employment change in still many questions as to how this will work, but the 1 Williams R. Keywords: A vocabulary of culture Britain, 1984-91, Environment and Planning A, 20: example demands that we understand this creativity and society. London: Fontana, 1975. 1953-74, 1997 of ours a little better, and that using it as an economic 2 Florida R. The rise of the creative class. New 6 Hui D. From cultural to creative industries, strategy demands more than lip service and glitzy York: Basic Books, 2002. Strategies for Chaoyang District, Beijing. promotions. 3 Marshall A. Principles of economics, 1890. International Journal of Cultural Studies, Because something is organic does not mean we 4 Porter ME. Clusters and the new economics of forthcoming. cannot intervene – if that were the case, western competitiveness. 7 The Cox review is at: medicine would not exist. Intervention requires a close In: Harvard business review, December 1998: knowledge of the complexities and dynamics of that 78-90. /cox_review/coxreview_index.cfm 15 Creative industries v9.indd 15 22/3/06 16:03:48
  16. 16. RENEW Rooms The Tea Factory 82 Wood Street, Dr Justin O’Connor has been director of the development professionals. He was a member of Liverpool L1 4DQ Manchester Institute for Popular Culture (www. the Northwest Regional Development Agency’s Tel: +44 (0)151 703 0135 at Manchester Metropolitan ‘think tank’ on creative industries, and lead academic Fax: +44 (0)151 703 0136 University since 1995. His main areas of interest advisor to Manchester’s Urbis museum on the email: are contemporary urban cultures, with a special contemporary city ( emphasis on cultural and creative industries and culture-led urban regeneration. He has published Dr O’Connor also led a partnership project extensively and organises many conferences on between Manchester, Helsinki and St Petersburg these subjects. to develop a creative industries strategy for the To register with RENEW Russian city. He has spoken in Beijing, South Korea Northwest please visit Dr O’Connor led the research which led to the and Taiwan and is currently preparing an academic establishment of Manchester Creative Industries conference with Singapore National University and complete an online registration form. You will Development Service (, the UK’s and Shanghai Academy of Social Science. He is also then be added to our first dedicated local economic development agency programme leader for the joint master’s degree contacts database and receive for the creative industries. He also co-convenes on European Urban Cultures ( regular updates regarding our the Forum on Creative Industries ( involving universities from Brussels, Tilburg and future publications, events uk), the UK’s leading network of creative industry Helsinki. and activities. Edited, designed and produced on behalf of RENEW Northwest by New Start Publishing Ltd, tel: 0114 281 6133, GOVERNMENT OFFICE Photography from Ablestock and New Start magazine. FOR THE NORTH WEST ISBN 0-9552772-2-1 Creative industries v9.indd 16 22/3/06 16:03:50