On 26 February the Young Urbanists launched their three-part 2015 series with The Origins and Futures of the Creative City, featuring a keynote talk from Charles Landry AoU, innovator of the Creative City concept. Charles talked the audience through the development of the term from its conceptualisation in the 1980s, when it primarily concerned a discussion of ‘distinctiveness’: what is special about a given place in the context of globalisation? Moving forward the term has been forced to update. We now have self-consciously employed schemes and strategies for evoking creativity within cities, seeing it become a currency, an asset. Charles put forward that we have now arrived at a renewed version of the Creative City – which is fundamentally about Creative Citizenship: harnessing collective entrepreneurial energy and the spirit of co-production.
Charles also touched upon his Creative City Index, developed in the context of Bilbao, which operates as a mechanism for ‘measuring’ and quantifying the creativity of a city, informed by factors including: location, geographical position, geo-politics, size, levels of employment, activity within different industrial sectors, voting patterns and participation rates, cultural and recreational facilities, amongst many others.
This talk was followed by a response from Dr Andrew Harris, UCL, who concurred that knowledge and innovation are now very much the raw materials of creative city making. Taking more of a critical urbanist perspective however, he closed with the suggestion that if we are to have a Creative City index, might it not include factors such as justice, equality, the amount of public spaces available that have not been commodified, which, he put forward might be a somewhat more ‘creative’ way of measuring creativity.