«The already considerable debate about what constitutes a ‘creative’ city becomes ever more critical as the world urbanises at a rapid pace. In ...»
towards a ‘giant creative village, in which social connectedness, trust and a sense of belonging form an ideal framework for creativity to flourish’ (Smith 2010). This is in contrast of Florida’s vision of highly mobile, footloose creative capital based on the strength of weak ties.
The northern rivers region of New South Wales, Australia is a relatively sparsely populated non-metropolitan area but with a relatively high creative workforce and is a wellknown lifestyle region, a classic ‘sea change’ destination. It is the only sustainable creative milieu outside of the Australian capital cities. But what makes it ‘sustainable’ as a creative location is the high proportion of producers with prior track records of deal making and wealth creation and who have been drawn to the region, not for Florida’s urban buzz, but for a specifically non-metropolitan lifestyle (Henkel 2010).
‘Creative Suburbia’ (see Collis et al 2010; Felton et al 2010; and see Flew and Gibson, this volume) is a project examining the motivations for creative workers to choose to live in the outer suburbs of major Australian cities. These motivations include: freedom from the distractions of the inner city, freedom from the inner city’s perceived homogeneity of culture and the constraints of having to be ‘groovy’ in a specific way; provision of better value to clients because the costs of expensive inner-city offices are not being passed on to clients; and access to more physical space including the ability to work from home in larger premises. An investigation of the location quotient, and use of an alternative statistical methodology for creative industries measurement, demonstrates that inner cities may not, in fact, be as important as it assumed in terms of the spatial disposition of creative workers.
The non-alignment of production and consumption policies: Brisbane We noted at the start the problematic of production capability in Brisbane in the context of consumption-driven cultural growth. Production-centric policies seek to develop a stronger,
more efficient and more talented workforce, which has implications not only for workplace, business and cluster conditions but also education and skills. Policies on the consumption side instead tend to respond to demand from the professional class for more sophisticated cultural services. Florida’s so-called bohemian ‘creative core’ tends to be less important than his creative professionals in this demand-driven scenario: it is the professionals who have more disposable income and seek to cultivate cosmopolitan, and global rather than local tastes.
Brisbane developed a balanced consumption-production mix some years ago in its five-year cultural strategy, Creative City (Cultural Policy Unit 2003). At least half of its eight strategic ‘platforms’ sought to support production capacity. The others spoke of creating vibrant neighbourhoods, celebrating diversity and social opportunity. However, a change in government soon after saw the strategy shelved, and subsequent city visioning has focused on generic lifestyle amenities, and ‘creative professional’ (science-technology) industry and workforce agendas (Brisbane City Council 2005).
Conclusion: Policy Implications As a general rule, in those jurisdictions which have reasonably developed cultural policies and programs, direct support through major subsidy portfolios, as well as content regulation, occurs at the national level. These are production-centric policies. Smaller subsidy, and consumption-oriented, policies typically are found at the state, provincial and municipal levels. One of the enduring policy challenges is for optimum coordination of these differing foci of public policy.
The opportunity costs of some consumption-oriented policies can detract from innovative production-oriented policies, especially place marking through major investment in iconic buildings. Political leaders are partial to the siren song of the ‘edifice complex’. A
recent UK report from NESTA (Chapain et al 2010) strikes the right note about balancing
production- and consumption-centric policies:
Although investments in the iconic public buildings that are seen to be the hallmark of creative cities can produce undoubted cultural and economic benefits, they also take money from other initiatives to support local creative businesses using an ‘industry and innovation’
Although the latter approach creates less immediately visible outputs, it might also be more conducive to developing a healthy and sustainable local creative ecosystem – one where creative graduates are able to gain employment when they finish their degree, creative value is captured locally, and local and regional innovative performance is improved. (Chapain et al 2010: 45) This is particularly pertinent due the degree to which, as this chapter has noted, the production and consumption of culture are blurring, and tomorrow’s citizens/consumers will expect the two to be much more interdependent. Many policies, however, can be shaped to suit both production and consumption. Access and equity policies can open up cultural experience on both sides of the ledger for those hitherto excluded. Digitising national collections, while also addressing the vexed issue of copyright for re-use, makes the cultural heritage of populations available for both personal enrichment on the consumption side and creative expression on the production side. The myriad licensing, insurance, and zoning regulations that state and municipal authorities typically have control over impact both the capacity to produce and consume at the local level in ways that are often more significant than national subsidy programs. As one activist argues, in aptly titled ‘Thoughts for
politicians in search of a cheap arts policy’:
Ever tried to rent a park, a hall, put on a gig or hold a show? The permits, permissions and red tape involved are where 90 per cent of the interactions between governments and the arts take place. For many artists, particularly those starting out, they are a killer. There is huge potential to lead here. Streamline the permits, slash the insurance requirements, offer meaningful exemptions for small projects and not-for-profit projects and events. Make it possible for communities to create events without the need for capital, lawyers and interminable time lost in the wheels of government. (Westbury 2010) Balancing production- and consumption-centric policies will remain a challenge for all creative cities.
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