Towards a just creative city

With the rise of the creative city motto, culture and arts have often become central in urban policy. The idea of the creative city has also been widely criticised for being used as a tool for aggressive neoliberal policies and for contributing to the production of urban inequalities. This session opens the space for a more fundamental critique, whilst reclaiming the power of cultural critique.

Our intervention conceives creativity as an embodied and situated practice (not an idealist or individual attribute). Artistic practice is more than an ‘output, impact or input’. It arises from contestation of ideas and practices; the practice itself is critique. Creative city debates have instrumentalised artists, ignoring the strong political engagement and their practice transforming the way our societies work and function.

Accordingly, the session aims at considering how it is possible to build a more just (more critical debate about a more open, and more cohesive) ‘creative city’.

In particular, we invite convenors to reflect on mechanisms and conditions that enable the creation of a just creative city.

 The session will welcome papers discussing, for example (but not limited to this), the following topics:

  • The notion of creativity: recently, the literature focuses on the (critical) notion of creativity as a social and culturally embedded process, beyond the narrow (individualised) economic one. How can this notion of ‘creativity’ be embedded in critical debates about cities?
  • The configuration of the urban governance: Who are the urban actors involved in the planning and offering of culture in city? What is the relationship between ‘creativity’ and ‘culture’?
  • Synergy of expectations between actors: Is it a prerequisite that artists aim at reaching social goals for their arts to have a transformative effect in the city? Is it a condition that those who finance, create and enjoy the cultural offer in the city share similar expectations as regards to its objectives?

Re/E/valuation: the question of ‘value(s)’. How do we challenge the narrow technocratic metrics of ‘creativity’ with other e/v/aluations? How do we establish a non-reductive and non-singular definition of value (that is engaged with a social and democratic politics)?

Marianna d’Ovidio, Università di Bari

Andy C. Pratt, City University of London