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Smart City - Creative City

The ‘Smart City’ is concerned with the application of digital infrastructure, sensors and data capture devices, and large scale computing power to previously distinct ‘social’ and governmental dimensions of urban life. Visions of the smart city have largely been built around the centralized, data-driven management of urban spaces and the flows that characterize them: of people, goods, services, and resources. Given the enterprise-driven character of these visions, the focus has been upon transport, utility management, security, and customized commerce. It has been increasingly felt amongst academics and policy-makers that we should not leave the vision for interactive infrastructures solely in the hands of IBM, Siemens, and their various marketers, sub-contractors, and engineers. Nor should we restrict the impact of these technologies on urban culture to data-driven marketing and new consumption platforms.
The ‘Creative City’ attempts to mobilise culture and creativity for city branding, urban regeneration and cultural industries growth, which also point to new forms of urban planning and governance. It has been closely associated with the “creative class” and the creative- entrepreneurial city in ways that have frequently become divisive and exclusionary, focusing on arts flagships, photogenic CBDs, and real estate profits. So too, cultural production has been reformatted under the rubric of the ‘creative industries’ in ways that foreground their contribution to economic growth. Increasingly calls have been for social justice, citizenship and the rights to the city, with a return of community and activist-focused arts activities, as well as new forms of ‘post-capitalist’ production communities.
In an attempt to broaden and re-imagine the data-driven and creative city, this symposium will explore the intersections between these urban agendas with a view to re-imagining their possibilities. It seeks to open out new possibilities for the city contained in both interactive infrastructures and new forms of cultural practice. Cultural workers of all kinds have an important role to play in crafting alternative visions for the implementation of “smart” technologies and the practices they support. These technologies are also opening new physical and social spaces of collaborative production, new kinds of economies which cities constantly seek to capture in the form of ‘creative entrepreneurship’ and similar tropes of a business language.
Is there another kind of urban culture and economy being made possible beyond the tightly controlled formats of the Smart City/ Creative City? What might that look like?

Creative Clusters and Media Cities

This paper will begin by asking some of the fundamental differences between the urban ideologies of ‘creative cluster’ and ‘media clusters’ now well embedded in local economic development strategies around the globe. I look back at the demolishing of the UK’s first creative industries development service (CIDS) in Manchester soon after the announcement of the relocation of BBC North in Salford. Despite the transference of the narrative of the ‘creative economy’ to frame the new ‘MediaCity’ development, it stifled participation from a well engaged local creative community and a well-developed local creative industries development strategy.
Media clusters capped under terms such as ‘smart cities’ and ‘hackable cities’ are popular amongst technocratic governments for it offers quantifiable measurements to innovation, community participation rates and efficient governance. This has seen a new breed of media clusters mushroomed in cities like Shanghai – co-working spaces, hacker space, fablabs. Framed within the creative economy urban narrative, I try to understand how these new temporary interventions originated by the communities could potentially further gentrification processes in the city.
These two versions of media clusters development (top down and bottom up) framed in the master narrative of ‘creative economy’ contribute equally to cultural gentrification in cities. Although they try to address the question of ‘rights to the cities’ through their different approaches, it seems to me that media clusters development remains to be tokenistic in addressing the element of ‘creative clusters as public goods’.

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