An idea or a movement

Today we can even talk of a Creative City Movement,63 but back in the late 1980s, when most of the constituent ideas were being developed, the key terms discussed were culture, the arts, cultural planning, cultural resources and the cultural industries. Creativity as a broad-based attribute only came into common, as distinct from specialist, currency in the mid-1990s. Earlier Australia's Creative Nation, instigated in 1992 by Prime Minister Paul Keating, spelt out the country's cultural policy with a focus on creativity. In the UK, by contrast, the first short version of the Creative City published in 1995 had little resonance beyond niche audiences.64 Instead it was the publication of Ken Robinson's national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government, All Our Future: Creativity, Culture and Education, that a couple of years after its publication in 1999 put creativity more firmly on to the political agenda.65 Later some of the phraseology changed, but what people referred to was usually a narrowly focused creativity, essentially the cultural industries, which became the creative industries and the creative economy. The notion of the creative class then emerged in 2002. The publication of Richard Florida's book, The rise of the Creative Class, gave the 'movement' a dramatic lift with the danger of hyping the concept out of favour.66

Why do cities want to be creative? Where did the obsession with 'creativity' come from? A central point is that creativity was always present in cities, it is just that we called it by another name: ingenuity, skill or inventiveness. Venice did not emerge in its time through a business-as-usual approach, nor did Constantinople or Dubrovnik. It became a link between the Latin and Slavonic civilizations and a powerful merchant republic. It maintained its independence by successively becoming a protectorate and by brokering knowledge, acting as a haven and refuge and inventing services. It required intense cleverness and astute positioning. Perhaps, today, Singapore is striving to be an equivalent.

Further, from the late 1980s onwards a recognition that the world was changing dramatically was increasingly widespread. Industries in the developed world already had to restructure from the mid-1970s onwards. The movement took time to unfold in full, but its momentum moved apace with the shift in global terms of trade now apparent. Its effects were eased in the West by the internet-based 'new economy', with the move from a focus on brawn to brain and a recognition that added value is generated by ideas turned into innovations, inventions and copyrights.

Yet these processes left many countries and cities flailing as they searched for new answers to create a purpose and role for themselves, while cities were physically locked into their past. This led to soul searching and many concluded that the old way of doing things did not work sufficiently well. Education did not seem to prepare students for the demands of the 'new' world. Organization, management and leadership, with a control ethos and hierarchical focus, did not provide the flexibility, adaptability and resilience to cope in the emerging competitive environment. Cities' atmosphere, look and feel were seen as coming from the industrialized factory age where quality of design was viewed as an add-on rather than as the core of what makes a city attractive and competitive.

Coping with these changes required a reassessment of cities' resources and potential and a process of necessary reinvention on all fronts. This required an act of imagination and creation. Cities felt 'creativity' could provide answers to their problems and opportunities and would get them out of being locked into their past, either because of physical infrastructure or because of their mindset. These adjustments require changes in attitudes and in how organizations are run. Yet while many organizations claim to have changed through 'de-layering', 'decentralizing' or 'decoupling', in reality they have remained the same. Nevertheless, different people for different reasons felt creativity had something in it for them - it

Synchronicity and origins

The first detailed study of the 'creative city' concept was called 'Glasgow: The creative city and its cultural economy', which I wrote in 1990. This was followed in 1994 by a meeting in Glasgow of representatives from five German and five British cities (Cologne, Dresden, Unna, Essen, Karlsruhe and Bristol, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Leicester and Milton Keynes) to explore urban creativity, resulting in The Creative City in Britain and Germany,67 followed up by a short version of The Creative City in 1995 and a far longer one called The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators in 2000, which popularized the concept. Unknown to the author at the time, in fact the first mention of the 'creative city' as a concept was in a seminar of that title organized by the Australia Council, the City of Melbourne, the Ministry of Planning and Environment of Victoria and many other partners, held between the 5 and 7 September 1988. Its focus was on how arts and cultural concerns could be better integrated into the planning process for city development. While several speakers were arts practitioners, the spread was broader, including planners and architects. Yet a keynote speech by David Yencken, former Secretary for Planning and Environment for Victoria, spelt out a broader agenda, stating that while we give firm attention to the efficiency of cities and some focus on equity, we should stress that the city is more. 'It should be emotionally satisfying and stimulate creativity amongst its citizens.'68 The city can trigger this, given its complexity and variety, especially when seen as an interconnected whole and viewed holistically. This ecological perspective is reflected in Yencken's later appointment as chairman of the Australian Conservation Foundation. This prefigured some of the key themes of The Creative City and how cities can make the most of their possibilities. The latter noted, 'Creative planning is based on the idea of cultural resources and the holistic notion that every problem is merely an opportunity in disguise; every weakness has a potential strength and that even the seemingly "invisible" can be made into something positive - that is something can be made out of nothing. These phrases might sound like trite sloganeering, but when full-heartedly believed can be powerful planning and ideas generating tools.'69

seemed like the answer. First, the educational system, with its then more rigid curriculum and tendency to rote-like learning, did not sufficiently prepare young people, who were being asked to learn more subjects and perhaps understood them less. Critics instead argued that students should acquire higher-order skills, such as learning how to learn, create, discover, innovate, problem-solve and self-assess. This would trigger and activate wider ranges of intelligences, foster openness, exploration and adaptability, and allow the transfer of knowledge between different contexts as students would learn how to understand the essence of arguments rather than recall out of context facts. Secondly, harnessing motivation, talent and skills increasingly could not happen in top-down organizational structures. Interesting people, often mavericks, were increasingly not willing to work within traditional structures. This led to new forms of managing and governance, with titles such as 'matrix management' and 'stakeholder democracy', whose purpose was to unleash creativity and bring greater fulfilment. The drive for innovations required working environments where people wanted to share and collaborate to mutual advantage. This was necessary outside the workplace and increasingly the notion of the creative milieu, a physical urban setting where people feel encouraged to engage, communicate and share, came into play. Often these milieus were centred on redundant warehouses which had been turned into incubators for new companies.

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