A very interesting article from Der Speigel (thanks to @olimould for putting it out on twitter) which highlights the conflict between world cities relying on creative industry growth to drive economic and social improvements versus the need to protect the current and existing habitants. It’s a lengthy and well constructed (and translated) article so I won’t repeat it here, but it mentions the issues with using Richard Florida’s thoughts on creative cities as a basis for strategy. In particular, one section struck a chord:
“Florida has devised a number of tools for cities, including the “three Ts formula,” which he insists cities should never forget: technology, talent and tolerance. He has developed a “creativity index,” a “gay index” and a “Bohemian index,” which he says should be used to evaluate cities.
“But the point is not to simulate these values,” he says. “The point is to have them. You can’t put a T-shirt with a catchy slogan on a fat man and suddenly claim that he’s cool. I’ve never talked about marketing in any of my books. And I don’t want to provide any recipes for gentrification.”
The argument here (which is often repeated in other places and cities, is that the very reason for that Talent and Tolerance – a vibrant and diverse artistic community – is immediately threatened by economic success of any incoming industries. It’s the Hoxton story – low rents attract artists which create vibe which attracts creative companies which drives up rents which pushes out the artists…
Currently I am building a new business in one such vibrant part of East London – Hackney Wick. Directly next to the Olympic Park, and home to an estimated 600 plus artists, Hackney Wick and Fish Island is a little artistic oasis – but also an area of historically low industry growth . It will benefit from being extremely close to the 2012 media and press areas. One of the reasons for being there is, of course, that artistic vibe.
I have been working with some of the resident artists groups, along with the Boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets, to collectively come up with a regeneration plan that tries to buck this trend. But it is hard – mainly because we have different visions of success. How we work together – the artists, the current industries, the future (hopefully creative) businesses, the residents and the public agencies – will be the main reason for success or failure. As in Hamburg, money is at the heart of a lot of the conflicts (rising rents, new businesses, landlords holding out for future growth, etc) but another real conundrum is whose area is it? Does it belong to the historical residents, the new(ish) artistic community, the past businesses, the future growing industries, the councils…? Who will set the measures of success? What are we aiming for?
Watch this space for updates on this journey. I really like the arguments of Florida – but cities (and city regions) are not created by economists – they are created by people.
[originally published on http://www.tristonwallace.co.uk/Triston_Wallace/Thoughts/Entries/2010/1/8_Creative_Regeneration_or_cultural_gentrification.html]