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«Jan van der Borg Antonio Paolo Russo European Institute for Comparative Urban Research Erasmus University Rotterdam The Impacts of Culture on the ...»

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Jan van der Borg

Antonio Paolo Russo

European Institute for Comparative Urban Research

Erasmus University Rotterdam

The Impacts of Culture on

the Economic Development

of Cities

A research into the cultural economies and policies of

Amsterdam, Bolzano, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Klaipeda,

Manchester, Rotterdam, Tampere, The Hague and Vienna DRAFT September 2005



Assisted by:

M. Lavanga G. Mingardo European Institute for Comparative Urban Research (EURICUR) Erasmus University Rotterdam





1.1. Research background 7

1.2. Objectives of this project and research questions 9

1.3. Working definitions 10

1.4. Research methodology and project output 13


2.1. The urban life-cycle and the “knowledge economy” 16

2.2. Culture and urban development 19



3.1. The “urban cultural cluster” 23

3.2. Evolution of the cluster 23

3.3. The economic impacts of culture 26

3.4. The cultural cluster and the socio-environmental fabric of the city 29

3.5. Integrating three impact areas in one model framework 31


4.1. Main city characteristics and European positioning 35

4.2. Cultural highlights 37

4.3. Size of cultural sector 43

4.4. Spatial organisation and structure of the cultural sector 47

4.5. Integration with the urban economy 53

4.6. Sustainable development of the cluster 60


–  –  –



The present topic has first been proposed to become a EURICUR research during a dedicated workshop of the 2001 EUROCITIES General Meeting in Barcelona, by initiative of the Economic Development and Urban Renewal Committee (EDURC), at that moment chaired by the City of The Hague.

It has since then slowly evolved into a full research programme with, in the tradition of EURICUR research, as many as ten partner cities that individually funded the project and served as case studies for the investigation. The City of The Hague has facilitated the creation of the city network and maintained the leadership of this network during the project.

Fortunately, the study of cultural issues was not new to EURICUR. A sound base of theoretical work and comparative research in related fields such as cultural tourism, culture and heritage planning, economic clusters, and the knowledge-based economy could be built upon. In reality, treating culture and creativity as economic engines for urban areas and applying EURICUR’s policy-oriented research approach to a field that today has deserved a very high position on cities’ agendas, proved to be a tough challenge.

Nevertheless, the authors hope that the timing is appreciated, not only because academic work regarding the economic impact of culture is in full development, but also because empirical work is still extremely scarce and especially this knowledge proves to be essential for urban policy.

The project has been organised and conducted by a EURICUR team consisting of Jan van der Borg and Antonio Russo. Mariangela Lavanga and Giuliano Mingardo have assisted in the writing of a number of case studies (respectively Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Klaipeda and Tampere, and Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven). Moreover, we are grateful with the late Klaus Schussmann for having started this debate and bringing it to the attention of fellow policymakers, and to Paul Zoutendijk for building the network of partner cities that supported the project. Finally, our appreciation goes to all the city representatives that participated in this study and assisted us in the organisation of field trips and data collection, and to all the people that we have interviewed; their names are listed at the end of the single case studies.


The present report is the result of an international research by EURICUR, the European Institute for Comparative Urban Research, based at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Ten cities have associated in this research, acting both as funding partners and case studies: Amsterdam, Bolzano, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Klaipeda, Manchester, Rotterdam, Tampere, The Hague, Vienna.

The City of Hague is the leader of the network and has been the initiator of this research project.

The project focuses on the conceptualisation and analysis of the effects of culture on the economic development trajectories of European cities. It moves from the recognition that culture is a key ingredient of post-industrial, information-intensive economic activity. A culture-oriented economic development is one that integrates the symbolic and creative elements into any aspect of the urban economy, pursuing distinction, innovativeness, and a higher level of interaction between localised individual and social knowledge and globalising markets.

Presently, cities spend more and more in cultural programmes as well as large infrastructure projects, which are supposed to be drivers of sustainable development: urban landmarks influencing the image and the attractiveness of the city for private investments, but also platforms for the “new creative class” and stimuli to social integration through self-reflection and cultural inclusion. However, there is uncertainty with regard to the type and magnitude of returns expected from such projects. Moreover, seed-funding creativity and cultural dynamism is a complex issue, as traditional institutions and policy approaches are hardly able to come to terms with fuzzy, anarchist social structures.

This EURICUR study sets out to propose a theoretical framework to interpret and possibly steer culture-oriented urban development: the COED model.

From the development of a cluster of cultural activities, all types of economic and social externalities arise, in a self-reinforcing process. Policy has to accompany this development caring that the condition that are necessary for the vitality of the cultural sector and ultimately for the endurance of this model are maintained in time: spatial balance, social mobility and access to cultural resources, but also networking and cross-fertilisation within the cluster and at its edges.

The comparative analysis of the ten case studies – ranging in size and European positioning from full-blown European capitals to medium-sized heritage cities and cities in economic transition – confirms some of the intuitions of the COED model. In cities where a certain number of “cultural clusters” have emerged, the urban economy has been structurally modified towards the symbolic. Cultural clusters have become – to varying extents, according to the characteristics, location and governance structures of such clusters – catalysts of a wholesome creative economy, involving a higher attractiveness for tourists, skilled talents, and ultimately for knowledgeintensive enterprises in search of an innovative climate and high levels of quality of life. Indeed, contemporary skilled workers attach a high value to a stimulating cultural climate and communities open to the new and symbolic;

these factors come to influence their mobility choices, and ultimately, the competitiveness of a city.

However, culture-oriented economic development is subject to strong endogeneity, modifying continuously the original conditions that make places culturally rich and viable as creative hubs. Thus COED is potentially shortlived and may bring to irreversible changes in the urban environment: the erosion of social capital, the dispersion in space of cultural activities and the consequent decreasing of clustering effects, and ultimately the fading of local cultural identity and “uniqueness”. Urban policy should be careful to accompany the COED process making sure that these limits are never reached. Physical and cultural planning, social and educational policies, infrastructure projects and the implementation of innovative forms of governance and networking may achieve these objectives, but the policy context is made fuzzier and more complex by the unconventional nature of economic and social processes underlying cultural activities and creative production.

The ten cities have been assessed and benchmarked against the development of this model. We find that some cities have progressed more than others to develop their cultural sectors into full catalysts for economic growth, in some cases (Amsterdam, Manchester) the limits which would modify the conditions for sustainable development are close: gentrification and changes in social mix, loss of spatial centrality in creative production sectors, lack of alternative development locations, erosion of cultural identity and character. In Vienna such limits do not appear to be a threat in the short period, though the city still needs to strengthen and diversify its cultural industries to positively influence a wider range of growth sectors. In other cities like Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Edinburgh, The Hague, COED has been limited to internal growth of a limited number of cultural sectors and clusters, missing to affect substantially the development opportunities for other economic sectors by influencing their innovativeness and location potentials. Finally, another group of cities, namely Tampere, Bolzano, Klaipeda, are still at the starting stages of their cultural clustering process and are negatively affected by their relative lack of accessibility and mass. The development and support to selected cultural production sectors (gaming and multimedia in Tampere, visual art and music in Klaipeda, music and performing arts in Bolzano) could result in a more high-quality, knowledge-intensive environment but policy need to steer this process in a more radical way.

A number of policy recommendations for a sustained COED leading to increased urban competitiveness as well as plenty of illustrations from best practices and common mistakes are given. Funding schemes for cultural activity are taken into consideration, like Amsterdam and its four-year subsidy plans as an interesting method to stimulate a strategic attitude in arts and culture; then we turn to support to cultural and creative industries, where the template is undoubtedly Manchester and its policy to develop creative enterprises turning social idiosyncrasy into a growth sector for the city. In the field of social policy and education, we illustrate various examples of projects of social inclusion through cultural education and programming. Cultural planning regards the integration of culture in urban management. Edinburgh’s strategic documents for the cultural sectors or Amsterdam’s kunstenplan are good examples of cultital policy agendas that do not stop at the boundaries of art and culture but have the ambitions to become levers for generalised urban development. As far as infrastructure policy is concerned, we try to evaluate how far “cultural flagships” like Rotterdam’s waterfront redevelopment or Vienna’s MuseumQuartier have resulted in a more viable cultural climate, and whether traditional infrastructure works, enhancing accessibility, safety, hospitality, may achieve similar results; finally we discuss innovative networking arrangements and governance models, looking at interesting initiatives taken in many cities in our study.


1.1. Research background Culture counts. And today more than ever, it counts for cities, the powerhouses of the contemporary society. Culture is a full-fledged economic sector that – as any other – generates impacts on the urban environment, ranging from direct and indirect expenditure to employment generation.

Cultural industries are typically labour-intensive; their organisation model is rather the network interaction of micro and small producers than the supplychain hierarchy of Fordist industries. Moreover, cultural production is highly contextual and idiosyncratic. For these reasons, city centres are privileged spaces for cultural production and consumption (Scott 2001, Heilbrun 1992).

Cities provide ideal workspace for artists and cultural managers; and the local economy comes to thrive of it, establishing a symbiotic relation with culture.

Firstly, culture generates substantial “intangible” or non-pecuniary economic effects. It has a soft function of animation and enhancement of the quality of life, which is an increasingly important element of a city’s competitiveness. It stimulates human creativity, and the capacity to innovate. New symbolic meanings and values become inputs to innovative production concepts and processes. A city can market itself as an ideal location for people and firms, and a preferred cultural destination for tourists; its unique, original cultural mix can become a recognisable brand (New York’s loft living, Berlin’s underground art, the Bristol sound, etc.).

Furthermore, culture may contribute to a more balanced and sustainable urban development. Culture is part and parcel of urban revitalisation projects in degraded urban areas throughout the developed world. It provides a formidable opportunity for personal development and social interaction among weaker groups, and gives to “excluded” individuals a chance to their own start businesses or to catch up socially.

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