Synthetic Report on Cultural Creativity

  1. Introduction

The Cultural Base project understands that the role of culture has experienced a profound mutation, through which both its position and role in social dynamics have been transformed since the second half of the last century. From having had a super-structural and autonomous position in the past, culture has become a central and structural aspect of contemporary societies. Cultural creativity, associated almost exclusively with the world of artistic and literary creation in the past, has become a key concept in this new context.

Both academic literature, as well as reports and recommendations in public and cultural policies, use creativity as a key concept for understanding and promoting urban regeneration processes, economic development and social inclusion. In this context, cultural creativity has been understood, instrumentally, as a prelude to innovation processes. Because of this, cultural creativity has been involved in a narrow narrative, almost exclusively associated with processes of economic development in urban contexts. Concepts such as creative economy, creative cities and creative class are a representative sample of this hegemonic discourse on cultural creativity.

The Cultural Creativity Axis reflects on the concept of creativity within the framework of a different narrative. Phenomena such as globalization and digitization; mobility, migration processes, cultural encounters, and the formation of identities; urban and social transformations; economic changes; etc. have an important impact on complex and reflective Europeans societies. Cultural creativity is a key concept to understanding all of these processes from a deep and complex perspective, both in the specific field of cultural production and in society as a whole. Reflecting on cultural creativity in non-economic frameworks; analyzing new frameworks of cultural creativity, and thinking of European identities and Cultural Heritage in terms of hybridization, are some of the topics which this document explores.

For this purpose, the Cultural Creativity Axis is articulated with two basic components of the general topic that structure the Cultural Base project as a whole: European Identity and Cultural Heritage. This cross-linking has resulted in two specific Thematic Fields: Creativity and Identity and Creativity and Heritage. Thematic Fields function as a starting point to investigate the academic knowledge and cultural and public policies carried out in Europe within the framework of these two territories. Two key questions served as a guide for exploring the main problems and limitations of these fields in order to define four Thematic Areas to develop a scientific and policy agenda at the European level.

This synthetic report summarizes the processes that started with these two key questions and continues with the development of four academic papers that were discussed with academic and non-academic stakeholders during the first Cultural Base Workshop held in Barcelona from the 30th September to the 2nd October 2015. To conclude, this document summarizes the processes leading to the selection of four thematic areas within the Cultural Creativity axis.

  1. Presentation of the general field of socially and politically relevant issues in relation with creativity, and relative to different institutional fields related with cultural heritage and cultural identities

We started by summarizing the academic framework of the two Thematic Fields in which the Cultural Creativity Axis is divided: Creativity and Identity (Thematic Field 5) and Creativity and Heritage (Thematic Field 6). To do this, we defined two main questions for each Thematic Field:

  1. How does cultural diversity contribute to cultural creativity? (Creativity and Identity Field)
  2. How does “creative economy” policy in Europe navigate the tensions between culture and economy? (Creativity and Heritage field)

This set of questions allowed us to write two short positional papers (one per question and thematic field), which were shared with two academic stakeholders who contributed with two of their own papers. Following this we invited non-academic stakeholders to discuss the papers during the first Cultural Base workshop.

  1. How does cultural diversity contribute to cultural creativity? (Creativity and Identity field)

This question is relevant due to the increasingly plural, contrasting and diverse cultural conditions of European societies, in a continually globalizing world, and the important and contradictory consequences of this new context. It is a major challenge for cohesion, whilst at the same presents a number of valuable opportunities. On the positive side, cultural diversity appears to be a crucial factor favouring cultural creativity, both for stakeholders and in public policy. Therefore, this positive contribution of cultural diversity, and the ways of making it more effective, should be considered as a crucial issue for European societies today.

Cultural diversity is understood in terms of social actors belonging to diverse ethnic, national or other spatially defined groups; social classes, gender groups, subcultural or generation groups, as well as in terms of their cultural repertoires. Cultural exchanges and encounters between culturally diverse groups give way to a hybrid of cultural expressions that can be objectified and valorized.

On the other hand, cultural creativity is interpreted as the collective capacity for producing cultural expressions both at the level of the professional cultural sector (cultural works), and in society as a whole (new cultural identities, expressive forms and lifestyles). This intrinsic cultural capacity is associated with a more general capacity for reflexivity, adaptation and innovation in all aspects of social life. These connections are also part of our focus within cultural creativity.

The relationship between cultural diversity and cultural creativity takes shape at various levels, in different institutional contexts and social formations, and is connected to different public policies and social problems. In order to explore this complex relationship, we focused on three issues representing fundamental strands of research and policy:

1. Cultural hybridization

  • How does cultural diversity give way to new hybrid cultural identities?
  • How does the cultural hybridization of everyday life take place, and how is this valorized in contemporary cities?

2. Urban diversity and creative cities

  • How does urban diversity contribute to cultural creativity processes?
  • Is cultural diversity actively integrated in the programs and activities of cultural institutions (auditoriums, theatres, museums) and other cultural mediators (creative and cultural industries, education institutions for the arts, the education system)? Does it/this integration produce cultural innovation or promote creativity in audiences and cultural actors (improving the capacity for cultural production in the case of audiences and actors belonging to the cultural sector, or giving rise to more cosmopolitan identities in the general public)?
  • How and why is the expression of cultural diversity promoted at the urban and suburban level as a source for cultural creativity (cultural events and large-scale events)?

3. European cultural diversity and new cultural forms.

  • How does social and cultural exchange within Europe create new cultural forms?
  • Does an increased artistic mobility in Europe contribute to cultural creativity?
  • To what extent is cultural hybridity and cultural diversity present and valorized in cultural identities, and promoted by cities, regions and nations across Europe (cultural branding, cultural diplomacy)?
  1. How does “creative economy” policy in Europe navigate the tensions between culture and economy? (Creativity and Heritage field)

The most relevant issue to consider in relation to the second question is to understand how creative economy policy navigates the tensions between culture and the economy. In order to do this, we focus on two contested issues of the EU’s approach to culture. On the one hand, the tension between “unity and diversity”. The EU’s cultural competence has always been complementary to the national management, protection and promotion of culture, and to the identity of Member States. “Unity in diversity” is routinely invoked as a key point of reference in discussions of cultural policy. As a multi-level polity, the EU is a site of political compromise. In the field of culture, the subsidiary interests of Member States limit the policies that can be pursued, as well as their scope.

On the other hand, the conflicting relationship between economic instrumentalism and identity–building emerge as another relevant issue in European cultural interventions. Economic instrumentalism currently prevails over identity-building in European cultural policies. The pursuit of the single market – to achieve integration and harmonization across national territories – has always been in tension with the need to recognise and respect the cultural diversity of the Union (Barnett, 2001).

Currently, European policy discourse is dominated by a predominantly instrumental approach towards the economic and social benefits of culture, under the umbrella of the fashionable language of “creative economy”. This overshadows an alternative framework that invokes culture for building communities within the Union that might lead to a common European identity (but certainly not one modelled on that of the nation state).

In order to explore the complexity involved in these relevant European cultural policy issues we focus on three key frameworks:

  • Cultural activity and intervention undertaken by the EU.
  • Key aspects of audio-visual policy and its present implications in the context of international trade.
  • European “creative economy” and “cultural and creative industries” (CCIs) policies.
  1. Synthesis of the relevant information in the papers and stakeholders’ reactions

The starting point of the discussion in the Cultural Creativity Axis during the first Cultural Base workshop held in Barcelona was followed by the presentation of two short positional papers written by Rodríguez Morató, Zarlenga & Zamotano; and Schlesinger for each thematic field. The main aim of the workshop was to define 12 thematic areas, 4 for each axis of the project, from the discussion among partners, academic stakeholders, non-academic stakeholders and the advisory board.

The workshop was divided into Academic, Stakeholder and Conclusive sessions. The main aim of the academic session was to identify relevant academic issues related to specific action areas in the Cultural Creativity axis. To achieve this objective, partners and academic stakeholders presented four papers on the two thematic fields within the cultural creativity axis: Creativity and Identity (Thematic Field 5) and Creativity and Heritage (Thematic Field 6). The paper presented by partners in each thematic field was followed by the complementary contribution made by one academic stakeholder. In Thematic Field 5 “Creativity and Identity”, there were two paper presentations. The first was the presentation of Arturo Rodriguez Morató, Matías Zarlenga and Mariano Zamorano (as partners). The title of their paper was “How does diversity contribute to cultural creativity?” The second presentation was the contribution made by Nikos Papastergiadis (as academic stakeholder). The title of his presentation was “Multicultural arts and cultural citizenship: a view from Australia”. In Thematic Field 6 “Creative and heritage” there were two paper presentations. The first one was made by Philip Schlesinger (as partner). The title of his presentation and paper was “Creative Europe? Culture, economy and policy in the EU”. The second presentation was the contribution made by Volker Kirchberg (as academic stakeholder). The title of his presentation was “A critique of the creative city concept from a sustainability perspective”.

The main focus of the two first papers was the relationship between diversity and creativity, and multicultural relations and creativity. Rodríguez Morató, Zarlenga and Zamorano’s paper directly and extensively explores this relationship. Papastergiadis’s paper mainly deals with multiculturalism as a model and as a practice of social relations but particularly with respect to cultural creation. The two second papers focused on the current hegemonic discourse on cultural creativity, which take an economic slant. Schlesinger’s paper speaks in general about the relationship between culture and the economy (in Europe), with one of its main focuses being the critique of the now dominant economic paradigm of cultural creativity. Volker Krichberg’s paper criticizes this paradigm at the urban level and argues for more sustainable alternatives.

  1. Arturo Rodríguez Morató, Matías I. Zarlenga and Mariano Zamorano: “How does cultural diversity contribute to cultural creativity in Europe?”

The main aim of Rodríguez Morató, Zarlenga and Zamorano’s paper is to identify trends, problematics, gaps and limitations of academic and non-academic knowledge related to the relationship between cultural creativity and diversity.

In the first part of the article, the authors identify studies addressing the issue of diversity and cultural encounters as a specific cultural phenomenon linked to processes of hybridization in different areas of cultural creation. The authors point out that intercultural contact has intensified during the last decades, thanks to the extraordinary increase in communication and transnational mobility, be it in the form of tourism or migration. However, they affirm that the multicultural coexistence originating from recent migration has turned out to be more complex in Europe than in other places because of the new conditions in which it has been produced: there is a greater cultural distance and strengthening of the ties that current immigrants to Europe maintain with their countries of origin, which causes greater resistance to cultural absorption (Lamo, 1995). In these conditions, the pattern of multicultural coexistence has tended to be latently conflictive, with only a relative integration of immigrants into Western culture and a distant mutual tolerance between immigrants and the native population. The authors point out that this pattern only becomes positive through artistic and cultural expression.

Rodríguez Morató, Zarlenga and Zamorano affirm that the interpenetrations and transformations of the past cultural repertoire, which are produced by cultural exchange in artistic and cultural expression, can be interpreted in terms of hybridization. The authors distinguish two types of thematic approaches in the conceptual frameworks that have addressed the analysis of cultural hybridization in the academic literature. First, there is a descriptive, interpretive and critical approach, focusing on archetypes created during the 20th Century and aimed at analyzing post-colonial societies in terms of interweaving culture and fusion (Martin-Barbero, 1987; García Canclini, 1990; Said, 1994; Bhabha, 1994; Gilory, 1993; Stuart Hall 1997). Secondly, there is another more analytical and universal approach that has emerged in recent times which focuses on globalization and trans-nationalization problems (Appadurai, 1996; Hannerz, 1992, 1996; Nederveen Pieterse, 1994, 2004; Burke, 2009; Cha Kowk-Bun, 2002; Di Maggio and Fernández Kelly, 2015). Beyond these two approaches, the authors distinguish four common parameters, which allow them to analyze the phenomenon of cultural hybridization in a full and effective manner in the frame of creativity and diversity. These analytical parameters of cultural hybridization processes are: (i) the results of the encounters; (ii) the elements that are intertwined; (iii) the configuration of cultural meetings; and finally, (iv) the dynamics of cultural encounters within the framework of different cultural contexts.

In the second part of their analysis the authors identified academic and non-academic literature addressing the issue of diversity and cultural creativity in two specific territorial frameworks: the city and Europe.

Rodríguez Morató, Zarlenga and Zamorano distinguish at least three trends in the analysis of the relationship between urban diversity and cultural creativity in an urban context. The first trend corresponds to economic geography studies (Florida, 2002, 2005; Pethe et al., 2010). This kind of study understands diversity in terms of the language, ethnicity and nationality of highly skilled workers. The authors point out that this approach pays more attention to diversity measurement techniques than on the type of interaction between workers – with different cultural backgrounds – that are involved in creative and economic innovation processes (Florida, 2002, 2005). Economic reductionism is the main shortcoming and limitation of this kind of critical approach. In this sense, both diversity and creativity are only discussed in the context of socio-economic interactions, leaving out other frameworks of (non-economic) interaction and creativity. The second trend used to analyse diversity in urban contexts comes from studies of urban and cultural planners (Florida, 2005; Olfert and Partridge, 2011; Florida and Tinagli, 2004). This kind of analysis understands diversity as a key element that defines the vitality and dynamism of a city or neighbourhood. Both academics and policymakers have designed programs (Council of Europe, 2008) and suggest cultural diversity to be a strategic element of the process of urban regeneration and the economic development of cities (Wood and Landry, 2008). The authors argue that the main criticisms of this approach are that the analysis and recommendations promote cultural diversity from a strictly economic point of view linked to cultural consumption. A third trend pointed out by the authors comes from studies on migration (Martiniello and Lafleur, 2008; Martiniello, Puig and Suzanne, 2009; Martiniello, 2013; Kiwan and Meinhof, 2011). Migration studies understand diversity as a socio-cultural background (which includes national, ethnic, linguistic, religious and social aspects) of migrant populations. Some intercultural studies understand that the best way to achieve effective policies of interaction is through cultural creativity. The authors sustain that this approach is relatively new and has not yet been developed. However, they identify possible lines of approach and development of cultural policies aimed to promote different ways of migrant integration within the paradigm of interculturalism and creativity.

The authors also seek to analyze cultural creativity and diversity in the European context, and focus on two lines of inquiry: the promotion of cultural hybridity and cultural diversity, and the contribution of artistic mobility to cultural creativity in Europe. Rodríguez Morató, Zarlenga and Zamorano highlight the possibilities and limitations of EU cultural actions promoting multi-level cooperation between the cultural policies of each Member State through academic and policy literature (Austen, 2012; Sassatelli, 2009). On the one hand, the authors point out that these kind of scholars indicate that European supranational cultural action has contributed to the intellectual and artistic dissemination of European cultural diversity (Cock Buning, 2008; Mcmahon, 2004). On the other hand, the scholars emphasize that the absence of major powers and of better coordination for EU cultural policy affects citizens’ cultural rights (Donders, 2003), and that the lack of an active policy and a clear legal framework for the protection of minority languages in the region distresses the existing diversity (De Witte, 2004). The authors also point out that mobility has become a pivotal factor for the artistic process and the artists’ consecration (Barriendos Rodriguèz, 2012; De Morant, 2007; Klaic, 2007). Artists’ mobility has, as a preferred destination, the big cities and capitals of Europe. In this sense, cities have taken on a new cultural, social and economic importance (Bianchini, 1993). Accordingly, it has been suggested that artists, concentrated in large capitals, are important actors in the social construction of cultural forms who contribute and stimulate local creativity (Meinhof, 2013). However, the authors highlight that the artists’ mobility is not supported by the EU structural conditions.

Morató, Zarlenga and Zamorano have seen that the academic studies examined in the first part of this article are mainly focused on processes of cultural encounter taking place in complex social environments characterized by high levels of diversity: on their configurations, dynamics, and especially on their effects in terms of hybrid identity and cultural production. By contrast, in the second part of the article predominately academic and non-academic studies analyse diversity, and what it can generate, in terms of economic development, urban regeneration, social cohesion and mobility, i.e. in terms that are not intrinsically cultural. The main deficit of knowledge regarding the relationship between cultural diversity and cultural creativity in Europe lies in the distance and disconnection between these two kinds of approaches and literatures.

  1. Nikos Papastergiadis: “Multicultural arts and cultural citizenship: a view from Australia”

The main aim of Nikos Papastergiadis’ contribution is to understand the complexity of multiculturalism in the ground level of cultural production beyond the mainstream of political discourse of fear. For this propose Papastergiadis examines the novels of Chirsotos Tsiolkas to understand the specific life of Australian multiculturalism.

Papastergiadis’ points out that while the scale and complexity of the phenomenon of migration and its implications for multiculturalism have become more challenging, the public debates and policy formations have failed to provide either a fresh conceptual understanding or an effective response. Thus the public face of multiculturalism became spiked and spooked by political messages in the media increasingly mixing migration and terror in the same sentences. As global mobility and border security were fused in populist political rhetoric, there was also a wider confusion over the political consequences of globalization. According to Papastergiadis, this kind of discourse provoked multiculturalism to be replaced by the more conciliatory term interculturalism, which in effect suggests that migrants should no longer feel entitled to established multiple cultures, but see themselves as feeding into the dominant culture. The result is the crisis of multiculturalism.

The author points out the paradoxical claims that announce that multiculturalism is dead, while also acknowledging that the phenomena of diversity is an increasingly complex and mercurial part of everyday life. Papastergiadis’ paper want to prove how the contemporary multicultural practice exceeds the theoretical formulations and defy the political rhetoric on multiculturalism. In this line, the author argues that while multiculturalism is abandoned as national policy, the lifeworld of multiculturalism has become the ground level of cultural production. For this reason, his research focuses in the new modes of cultural expression and art-making. These practices are understood as entangled in the world of cultural complexity. Hence, Papastergiadis’ approach draws on theoretical explorations and close readings of the fictive texts of Chirsotos Tsiolkas. Tsiolkas’ novels allow Papastergiadis to zoom into the specific lifeworld of Australian multiculturalism, a platform from which it is possible to zoom out and glimpse at the wider transformation of global culture. The aim of the paper is to provide an account of culture and citizenship that is informed by the redefinitions of identity and community resulting from cultural complexity, and which examines how the understanding of culture, art, diversity and citizenship need to be re-thought in light of this complexity.

To conclude, Papastergiadis highlights that the phenomenon of migration, the policies on multiculturalism and the cosmopolitan worldviews in everyday life are not separate fields of study, but that they are deeply interconnected. Secondly, he points out some methodological challenges related with this kind of approach: the necessity of academic studies that combine qualitative and quantitative approaches, and empirical and theoretical points of view. Finally, he stresses the necessity to re-think the relationship between multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. For Papastergiadis this will require a reformulation of perspectives that previously separated our understanding of multiculturalism and migration as a matter of national settlement, from the open ended reflection of cosmopolitanism as a world making activity.

  1. Philip Schlesinger: “Creative Europe? Culture, economy and policy in the EU”

The main aim of Philip Schlesinger’s paper is to understand how European cultural policy navigates the tensions between broad economic and cultural considerations, and the growing influence of “creative economy” thinking in the past decade. To understand this relationship, the author focuses on the EU’s approach to culture, especially the framework programme “Creative Europe” constructed for the field of cultural policy from 2014-2020. In his paper, Schlesinger first outlines the range of cultural activity undertaken by the EU. He then discusses key aspects of audio-visual policy and its present implications in the context of international trade. Third, the author considers how the EU developed a “cultural and creative industries” (CCIs) policy, incorporating an economic and market-oriented conception of culture.

The first part of the paper describes the different cultural and audio-visual programs of the EU before and after “Creative Europe”. Schlesinger points out how the previous European Cultural Programs understood culture from a non-economic point of view. An example of this kind of program was “Culture 2000”. Schlesinger explains that this programme was the first attempt to bring some coherence to a scattering of “actions” pursued since 1992, and it extended the Commission’s focus from high culture to popular culture. The promotion of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; of culture as a “catalyst” for creativity; and of exchange of culture with non-European cultures, characterised this program. Its successor, the “Culture Program” (2007-2013), aimed to support projects and activities designed to protect and promote cultural diversity and heritage. After the “Europe 2020 Strategy” was adopted and the “European Agenda for Culture” was endorsed, the European Commission set up “Creative Europe” as the sole successor to two previously separate activity streams: the Culture Program (2007-2013), and the MEDIA Program (1990-2013). Schlesinger highlights that under Creative Europe, the sub-program is overwhelmingly rationalized in economic terms. In line with earlier Culture programmes, the author also mentions that the EU organizes a series of events, prizes and competitions, all intended to raise awareness of European achievements across borders, given the need to respect the subsidiarity of the Member States. Schlesinger argues that these kind of events seek to engender a wider sense of belonging to a common cultural space. These currently include the EU Architecture Prize, European Heritage Days, the EU Prix MEDIA, the EU Literature Prize, European Border Breakers Awards for popular music, and the European Heritage Prize (otherwise known as Europa Nostra), and the well-known European Capitals of Culture (ECOC) initiative.

Following the work of Rachael Craufurd Smith (2004b), Schlesinger points out a paradox in the various forms of intervention in culture by the EU and its predecessors in this context: economic integration can lead to more culturally diverse societies, but, to be successful, it is necessary for these societies to be culturally open. Consequently, EC law has from the very start “posed a challenge not only to the economic but also to the cultural policies of the Member States”. Similarly, Schlesinger highlights the arguments of Annabelle Littoz-Monnet (2007), who affirms that “EU-level intervention in the cultural sector has essentially initiated the liberalisation of cultural industries’ markets”. Over time market liberalism has trumped dirigisme, this is not a simple linear development but rather one that depends on the balance of forces at any time.

The second part of the paper focuses on the European audio-visual programmes and presents implications in the context of international trade. Firstly, Schlesinger mentions the MEDIA programs (the predecessor of the Creative Europe’s second sub-program set up in 1990). These programs were characterised by support activities, projects, and initiatives in the European audio-visual industry (European Comission 2015c). Schlesinger argues that different lines of action of the program navigate between the pursuit of economic objectives – underpinning the production, distribution and circulation of European audio-visual products – and more specific cultural goals, notably supporting the diversity of film production in the EU, with a strong emphasis on cross-border co-production. However, these programmes – whose budgets were modest – have been merely supplements to national systems of support. Secondly, Schlesinger mentions the effect of technological changes (i.e. the rise of satellite technology) in the European television legislation with the creation of the Television without Frontiers (TWF) in 1991 (Polo 2014:16), now known as the Audio-visual Media Services Directive (AVMS). According to Schlesinger, the AVMS is principally focused on market liberalization and has been updated “to reflect developments in an increasingly technologically convergent media environment” (Michalis 2010: 43). In this regard, the author points out that its purpose is to ensure “the transition from national markets to a common programme production and distribution market, and to guarantee conditions of fair competition” (OEJ 2010: 1, par. 2).

The market liberalization of audio-visual policies was in tension with the formulation of the rise of “exception culturelle” in 1992 during the Uruguay Round of negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). This, as Schlesinger explains, was centred on preventing cultural goods and services from being treated like any other tradable commodity. France (and the EC) sought to support their film and TV sectors, and the non-material intellectual property rights embodied in the content of specific works, against the free market principles strongly espoused by the US (Regourd 2004: 70; Schlesinger 1997).  For Schlesinger, “cultural exception” is inherently protectionist whereas the pursuit of the European single market favours competition and market liberalization (Regourd 2004: 72-73). There has also been tension between “cultural exception” and “market liberalization” in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in 2013, which involved bilateral and secret negotiations between the EU and the US (Moody 2015a, 2015b). The idea of creating a seamless “regulatory space for electronic communications”, to “end the fragmentation of EU consumer legislation” and “for an EU copyright law, including an EU framework for copyright clearance and management”, as well as “a legal framework for EU-wide online broadcasting”, appears in a report by Mario Monti in 2010 in the context of creative and digital economy (Monti 2010: 46). According to Schlesinger these changes proposed for the regulation of communication infrastructure would become preconditions for the circulation of cultural content in Europe in a Single Digital Market (SDM) (European Commission, 2015d). One important area for the author is to understand the role of SDM in international cultural trade.

The third part of Schlesinger’s paper concludes analysing the emergence of a creative economy and the diffusion of the creative industries discourse in the EU. Schlesinger analyses the emergence of “creative industries” and their successor “creative economy” through the European cultural policy in the last decade. Following the definition of creative economy by academic papers (Oakley and O’Connor, 2015; Hesmondhalgh, 2007; Garnham, 2005; Howkins 2001; Vötsch and Weiskopf 2009) and policies reports (European Commission, 2006; UNCATD, 2008, 2011, 2013), Schlesinger emphasises that on the one hand the economization of culture was provoked by this new paradigm. On the other hand, he stresses the lack of uniformity of thinking inside the EU about what to include and exclude in creative economy due to national differences.

To conclude Schlesinger points out: (1) Cultural policy has been harnessed for economic purposes but also to build identity, citizenship and community. (2) Creative economy thinking has given current EU strategy an emphatic economic orientation, in line with enhancing the Union’s competitive position in international trade. (3) The connexion between the discourse of creativity with the digital economy, and how the DSM policy is pursued in international trade.

  1. Volker Kirchberg: The (Un-) Sustainability of Creative Cities?”

The main aim in Kirchberg’s contribution is to demonstrate the weakness of the creative city discourse. His paper begins by showing why the “creative city” rarely is a “sustainable city”. He points out some of the weaknesses in Richard Florida’s discourse on creative class and creative cities, and demonstrates why the Florida concept of the creative city is unsustainable. Then, Kirchberg defines the antithesis of creative cities, Florida’s concept from a sustainable perspective. After that, the author explores theories of unsustainable urban development. Finally, he gives some alternatives for sustainable and creative urban development.

Kirchberg starts by giving four reasons to explain why the Florida concept of the “creative city” is unsustainable, highlighting his contrast with more solidarity concepts. First, he contrasts “economic growth” (that appears in the Florida discourse), with the idea of “social evolution”. In this respect, the success of cities purely through an economic lens lets Florida ignore the social hazards of an infinite growth of a few successful cities. Second, Kirchberg contrasts Florida’s (2008) idea of “the winner-takes-it-all” with the idea of “solidarity with the weakest”. Kirchberg understands the competition among cities as a place to attract core creative class results in a hierarchy of unequal cities. Third, the author contrasts the preference of Florida’s (2002) “weak ties” and “strong ties”. Kirchberg understands that the world of “weak ties”, that is, social networks that are based on (close to) noncommittal relationships, might be good for searching for jobs (as Florida points out), but not for creating strong communities on socially and culturally sustainable levels. Fourth, Kirchberg juxtaposes “homogenized plug-and-play neighbourhoods” with “urban diversity”. According to Kirchberg, in the Florida discourse, the extremely mobile “creative class” prefers revitalized inner city communities that all seem to be attractive according to the same factors (i.e. lifestyle, social interaction, diversity, authenticity, identity and quality of place) (Florida 2002). From Kirchberg’s perspective, the accommodation of this class will end up creating the same homogenized “bourgeois bohemian chic”, with the same features that pretend to create an “indigenous authenticity”, but indeed provide the same urban “plug-and-play” environment everywhere.

Against the Florida unsustainable discourse of creative cities, Kirchberg understands that a sustainable creative city is possible, based on a “literacy of sustainability” among creative workers, artists and political and economic actors in the creativity field (Capra, 2002; Morin, 1977). Kirchberg argues that, on the one hand, the search for sustainability imposes certain limits on the autonomy of artists, who can no longer be considered individualistic and autonomous agents (a view that becomes more and more obsolete). On the other hand, the search for sustainability also requires an understanding that creativity is an imperative for sustainability. According to this view, artists should be given opportunities to foster creative local developments in sustainable ways. To achieve these goals, Kirchberg understands that both the role of urban artists and their art initiatives, and cultural institutions in general, are key elements to push issues of cultural sustainability that can be subsumed under attributes of civic participation through bottom-up urban governance, equal justice, multiple dimensions of diversity, freedom-with-responsibility of alternatives in values and lifestyles, diversity, and the political support of indigenous, home-grown and idiosyncratic cultural values in local communities.

The third part of the paper is a review of urban theories that reveals, for Kirchberg, three theoretical pillars of contemporary unsustainable urban development. First, Kirchberg mentions Lefebvre’s (1991) combat for, or appropriation of, urban spaces by representation. Second, he looks at Molotch’s (1987) concept of the growth machine to explain, from a neo-Marxian point of view, unsustainable urban developments as an undemocratic product of a powerful urban elite (Molotch, 1987). And third, Smith’s theory of gentrification (1996) as a process of displacement of the underprivileged product based on his understanding of space value production.

Finally, the author highlights alternatives for sustainable and creative urban development related with ecological resilience and socially equitable and inter-culturally vibrant modes of life. Resilience and creativity go hand in hand in the creative sustainable city because “building resilience depends on nurturing diversity, self-organization, adaptive learning and constructive positive feedback loops between the economic, social and infrastructural aspects of a city as a complex system” (Dieleman 2013).

  1. Academic and Stakeholder’s discussion

After the partner and academic stakeholder presentations, the mediators open the general discussion by presenting a summary of the reflective comments by the non-present stakeholders and inviting the participation of stakeholders to respond to what has been presented.

A discussion among Partners, Stakeholders and Academic-Stakeholders (ASTH) followed the academic presentation of the Thematic Field 5 & 6, which revolved around the following main issues: (1) The need to conceptualize cultural creativity beyond the economic framework, (2) The importance of analyzing cultural creativity processes in peripheral or non-urban areas taking into account the difficulties this creates with respect to connectivity, (3) The need to generate new cultural indicators to measure the value of cultural heritage and also to better understand the place of ecology in the cultural creativity process, (4) The role of civil society in cultural activities.

The Stakeholder Sessions, one per axis, followed the discussion started in the academic sessions. The main aim of the Stakeholder Sessions was, firstly, to assess the connections among the various issues raised in the academic sessions and secondly to identify their relative social and political importance. The discussion in the Cultural Creativity Stakeholder session focused on the assessment of the importance of elaborating both a new framework and common indicators to rethink the concept of cultural creativity, and its measurement beyond its direct economic applicability in terms of innovation.

The workshop ended with three consecutive Conclusive Sessions whose twofold goal was to address the research-policy articulation with respect to each thematic axis, and to identify crucial Thematic Areas to continue the work in the second phase of the project. In this regard the main aim of the Conclusive Session was to select and prioritize the issues raised in the academic and stakeholder sessions. Four issues and three questions were highlighted in the Cultural Creativity conclusive session:

  • To develop further the bases of legitimation and spheres (environments and processes) of action, beyond economic frameworks.
  • To define cultural creativity indicators – Are they understood by all actors?
  • To understand the new role of cultural creators.
  • To reconsider the frameworks for creativity on the new paradigm.
  • How can non-economic cultural creativity be recognized and legitimized?
  • How can cultural diversity fit into cultural creativity?
  • How can cultural heritage be transformed by cultural creativity?
  1. Process leading to the selection of topics and justification for the ones chosen

After considering the list of themes that was presented at the concluding session, we tried to further elaborate these by adding some topics that appeared following the discussions. We then reduced the list to four topics, first selecting some topics of the previous list, and then prioritizing the remaining central topics in function of two considerations: the convenience of choosing topics that linked to our previous papers, and the necessity that at least two of the chosen topics were on line with the interests and expertise of the academic partners liked to this axis (Arturo Rodríguez Morató and Philip Schlesinger). In our selection of themes, we have also considered the comments made by Nikos Papastergiadis, Zoltan Krasznai and others partners, and the possibility of linking the topics with our previous papers. The remaining topics could eventually be commissioned to some of the existing academic stakeholders

Papastergiadis highlighted during the conclusive session the necessity to generate consensus on the terminology of creativity. He requested a new normative discourse and highlighted the challenge of differing perspectives (zoom in and out to produce a narrative and conceptual framework and to incorporate values and evidence). Papastergiadis also highlighted the concept of “hybridization” as a key element to address following the conclusive sessions. Papastergiadis understands that hybridization has been used in the past to talk about origins, however, it can also be used to talk about objects of creativity.

Finally, Zoltan Krasznai suggested to take into account, not only the development of the academic research agenda, but also to come up with recommendations. For example, innovative actions, which may select best practices, up-skilling them and replicating them, linking them to education; the many issues related to digitalisation, intellectual property rights and copyright issues; and how to make these more useful. He also highlighted the importance of considering the European perspective in the proposal.

Taking all of this into account and thinking on the basis of our proposal for the distribution of topics between partners and commissioned academic stakeholders, we have arrived to the following list:

  1. Cultural creativity and value
  2. New frameworks of cultural creativity
  3. The Digital Single Market (DSM)
  4. Cultural hybridization in Europe


  1. Thematic Area Summaries for Cultural Creativity
  1. Cultural creativity and value

The purpose of this Thematic Area will be to provoke discussion of the dominant paradigm for evaluating culture and creativity, which gives overwhelming weight to its economic impact. What are some alternative ways of thinking about the role of culture in the EU? Can they acquire greater weight in the debate about the future of European culture?

At present, the dominant approach to valuing culture in the EU is to focus on its economic impact in terms of employment, turnover and business formation with a particular eye on the balance of international trade, a tendency enhanced by the continuing financial crisis. Along with this there has been a growing focus on how culture can be measured. Those working in the sector know the limitations of this approach but there is a political imperative at every level to comply, as it is the headline claims about the creative economy that carry weight. In the past decade, as well evidenced by work undertaken for the EC and EP, there has been a drive to develop indicators to demonstrate the value of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs). This concern tends to frame the debate for those seeking to influence the policy process. So, for instance, key lobbies hire major consultancies to undertake market and employment analyses. The outcome is a self-sustaining policy framework.

There are alternative views, however, that have tended to be marginalized. For one, the expedient subordination of culture to the creative economy has been challenged. Culture is central to processes of socialization and how it is used from a policy point of view has major implications for diversity and integration. Most cultural work is precarious, a point that is lost in the dominant narrative. Moreover, it often involves collaboration in moral economies that co-exist with competitive economies but whose workings are obscured. We engage in cultural practices for their inherent satisfaction, the pursuit of aesthetic goals, our own fulfilment and interest. Craft sensibilities have not disappeared. But when it comes to making a living out of cultural work, an encounter with the creative economy is inescapable.

Alternatives to creative economy thinking have been largely screened out of the debate. In this Thematic Area we would like to develop a discussion trying to identify the possible bases for an alternative view on the value of culture and creativity. Key questions to address will be: What are the values on which such an alternative view can be built? What are the life dimensions and spheres of life that should be taken into account in this respect? And how should we conceive the roles of cultural actors in this new perspective on cultural creativity? Furthermore, in consideration of specific empirical cases we will also address the new systems of valuation and evaluation of culture that seek to go beyond the economistic paradigm that are currently emerging in different countries both within and outside Europe.

  1. New frameworks of cultural creativity

This Thematic Area is closely related to the one about cultural creativity and cultural value. The purpose is to go beyond the prevailing view of cultural creativity and its evaluation as one dominated by economic considerations and to look for emergent alternatives. In the present instance, we would like to consider new institutional and practical frameworks of cultural creativity, which are also situated far from that economic way of thinking. The economistic paradigm determines a conception of the space of creativity as a bounded and restricted realm of specialists which is focused on commodified cultural products and the gifted creators that produce them, where a strict barrier separates those creators from consumers who are essentially passive, and where there is a radical hierarchization of places, cultural institutions and cultural creators. Creativity in this perspective is equated with innovation, which is a process that creates something new with a clear purpose. But creativity should be distinguished from innovation. It has to be conceived, on the contrary, as an open-ended process that develops in a certain historical context and under given conditions but possesses no necessary or immediate goals. A non-restrictive conception of creativity would imply an inclusive space where participation by non-specialists is important and configurations of actors, institutions and places are not reduced to simple rankings determined mostly by market criteria.

Our work here will involve, to begin with, identifying and assessing institutional and practical frameworks of cultural creativity that effectively transcend or oppose the economistic paradigm. In this respect, there are a number of questions that we will like to address. First, we wish to look for alternative definitions and also for examples of best practice. How can the roles of creators and mediators be redefined in the context of such a new paradigm of creativity? How does the relationship with heritage change in that situation? What are good examples of a new dynamics of cultural participation in creation? And how inclusive are these examples? Are marginal groups, like immigrants, minorities, elderly people or unemployed youth included in them? This question relates to the Thematic Area on cultural hybridization and also that on participation in the Inclusion Axis. Other questions concern the institutional configurations and frameworks that underlie the new dynamics of creativity. Is it possible to identify revealing examples of institutional spaces supporting these new dynamics? And what about peripheral, rural or non-urban areas? Are there examples of effective creative places of this kind in spite of the difficulties these situations create with respect to connectivity? What are the characteristics and indicators of a sustainable creative city?

Finally, there are also some important analytical questions. What kinds of mechanisms of recognition, support and legitimation would be necessary for sustaining a new dynamic of creativity beyond the market? What kinds of cultural and education policies might favour or hinder it? And what other structural conditions might be considered important (for instance, historical and material contexts, conflict and cooperation dynamics, power relations, levels of development, infrastructure)?

  1. The Digital Single Market (DSM)

The purpose of this Thematic Area will be to synthesize the key proposals made by the EC, to put them in a wider historical context, and to explore the range of views and interests that are affected by these proposals, with particular reference to international cultural trade and the prospects for the creative and cultural industries in the EU.

The 2010 Monti report underlined the political purpose of completing the single market in a dual response – to nationalism inside the EU and to the challenge of globalization outside it. A digital single market was then conceived as creating a single regulatory space for electronic communications, overcoming the fragmentation of consumer legislation, a legal framework for online broadcasting and establishing a common framework for copyright clearance and management. Many of these ideas have persisted in the EC’s thinking. At the start of its mandate in 2015, the Juncker Commission made it clear that the creative economy’s development is deeply intertwined with that of the digital economy, and a key priority.

In December 2015, setting out key planks of its Digital Single Market strategy, the EC made clear its goals for broadening access to online content and modernizing EU copyright rules. This has several key dimensions that relate directly to the question of how culture (or ‘creative content’) might travel within the EU market. Those of greatest relevance to Cultural Base are noted here.

These are: a Regulation on the ‘cross-border portability’ of online content, intended to allow EU residents to travel with digital content purchased at home. The EC intends to improve the distribution of TV and radio programmes online and also by way of innovative tools to enable European cinema to reach wider audiences. This is an adaptation of established strategies to the digital age.

Of relevance for the digitization of heritage institutions’ collections are proposals for exceptions to copyright rules for educational purposes. There are also proposals to address the remuneration of copyright-protected works (particularly in relation to news aggregation intermediaries and platforms). There are also proposals to improve the enforcements of IPR in relation to infringements. Finally, the aim is to pursue the effective and uniform application of copyright legislation across the EU – a challenge to existing national regimes.

Related to these, although distinct, is the proposed revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which raises questions about whether the existing Directive should be extended from live TV to ‘TV-like’ services, which has major regulatory implications.

This is a major agenda change, which has led to divided views. It is along these lines of division that we should try to engage our stakeholders.

  1. Cultural hybridization in Europe

The purpose of this topic is to discuss practical and conceptual aspects of cultural hybridization processes linked to cultural production or cultural expression in Europe.

The interpenetration and transformation of cultural repertoires that are produced by the exchange of artistic and cultural expressions can be interpreted in terms of processes of hybridization. Hybrid identities and products have always been present in Europe. But nowadays they are much more common than in the past due to the high increase in diversity of current European societies. That said, in contrast to traditional immigrant countries, in Europe artistic and cultural hybrid expressions have not gained much prominence in the public sphere or in the market nor have they been significantly promoted, socially or politically. Consequently, in spite of its strategic importance, cultural hybridization has not been analysed thoroughly enough at the European level. Hybridization processes have been scrutinized only in some particular cases and fields, mostly in relation to popular music, but hardly at all in others. And mainstream research in the urban context, where most of these processes take place, tend to ignore them, so disregarding or misunderstanding the potential role of diversity in urban dynamics.

Why are cultural hybridization processes less effective in gaining attention in the public domain and less weighty and visible in Europe than in other parts of the world? Do they fail from their inception, by way of their limited diffusion, in virtue of processes that screen out their valorization? Is that linked to negative attitudes of culturally dominant groups in European populations towards hybridization, to blocked mechanisms of circulation, and to inadequate policies? These are some central questions of this thematic area. We would like to figure out what the reasons are for the apparent resistances to hybridity and investigate this theme further. Consequently, many other related questions appear. For example, how are hybridized cultural expressions incorporated into the European heritage canon? This issue relates to other Thematic Areas: those belonging to the Inclusion Axis (The European migration cultural heritage and its inclusion) and to the Memory Axis (Entangled Heritage).

Other questions to be pursued are more analytical. When do the social conditions experienced by immigrants hinder cultural hybridization? Social conditions in this connection mean their socioeconomic situation and their levels of educational or urban integration, variables that are in turn influenced by the extent and pace of immigration flows and prevalent immigration policies, as well as by general economic and political conditions. Should we consider the configuration of cultural encounters in terms of prevalent power relationships to be an important factor in explaining the feasibility of cultural hybridization processes? Do specific contexts – such as given traditions in the expression of national cultural identities, ethnic representations or discursive configurations regarding cultural value – play a significant role in the cultural valorization of hybrid products? To what extent does social and political conflict inhibit cultural hybridization? And conversely, in what situations may cultural hybridization channel or remedy conflict? In exploring all of these questions, we will connect with one of the focal points in Rodríguez Morató’s previous analysis: the issue of cultural hybridization dynamics (Rodríguez Morató, Zarlenga and Zamorano’s paper).

Finally, beyond the more theoretical focus, in our exploration of cultural hybridization issues we also will look to concrete experiences and models from which we can learn. What are the artistic developments that can better represent successful examples of cultural hybridization in Europe? And what have been their social and institutional trajectories? What kind of cultural policies at different levels (local, national, European) favour the proliferation of hybrid cultural expressions and their valorization? And what other policies appear as obstacles or difficulties in that respect?


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