Good creative city making is more like improvised jazz rather than a well-tempered symphony performance and Charles’ new book explains why this is so. It explores its historic timeline and debates, the regeneration repertoire, its dilemmas and its trajectory across the globe. It highlights the newer debates and urgencies, such as insights in psychology, the impacts of a digitizing world on creativity and the evolving creative bureaucracy movement.
The notion connects the triad creativity, culture and the city together in exploring how places navigate the waves of urban transformation. The agendas differ from their origins and we need to be imaginative about the big issues that really matter – now. The initial cultural focus remains significant. Only by understanding the history, the culture, the DNA and assets of a place can we assess its potential. Yet, the emphasis of creative action should shift to current urgent problems and opportunities. Fostering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is one such need.
It argues that today, when the world is turning to its darker face with tensions arising in so many arenas our creative capacities aligned with courage, tenacity and bravery are needed more than ever. Most importantly urban creativity needs a purpose, an aim and an ethical frame, including giving back to its community and even to the world. It is better to be the most creative city for the world rather than in the world. That ethical framework and moral compass should guide a city’s imaginative energies and actions.
The Creative City idea has been endlessly discussed since it was launched in the late 1980s. It has had an impact across the globe – largely positive. Yet some worry that the notion is in danger of hollowing out by overuse of the word ‘creative’ as applied to people, activities, organizations, urban neighbourhoods or cities that objectively that may not be especially creative.
There have been critiques of the concept claiming it is only targeted at hipsters, property developers and those who gentrify areas or seek to glamorize them so destroying local distinctiveness. This has happened in places, but it is not inevitable.
The intent was always different. It is a clarion call to think differently and more broadly and suggests a differing map for planning, organizing and managing cities. This can highlight or uncover hidden resources, some tangible and others intangible and many coming from the deeper history of a place.
Crucially it advocates the need for a culture of creativity to be embedded into how the urban stakeholders operate. Broaden By encouraging and legitimising the use of imagination in all spheres the ideas bank of possibilities and potential solutions broadens.
'Yes I love this book and find it very helpful as it describes for the first time the history of creative cities in a comprehensive way.' – Emeritus Professor, Masayuki Sasaki, Osaka City University, Japan
'Now that the "shock and awe" of claim and counterclaim has blown over; an inspiring reflective synthesis of both the practices and the potentials for the Creative City.' – Andy C. Pratt, City University of London, UK