Cultural Heritage and Creative City / Regional Development

A moment of the workshop in Budapest

The 10th CreativeCH workshop addressed the role of cultural heritage and creative industries in the development of cities and regions. It was held on the 16th of September 2014 in Budapest at the Petofi Irodalmi Múzeum.

 The workshop was organised in a collaboration with the Institute for Social and European Studies (ISES), Köszeg, Hungary. The Institute since 2011 holds the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainability, and offers a post-graduate programme that provides an interdisciplinary specialization in cultural heritage and sustainable development.

The workshop brought together experts from Hungary and other countries, including from Creative SpIN (Spillovers of Innovation), a network of European cities funded under the URBACT programme. 
Presentations on cities in Hungary (Budapest and Pécs), Slovakia (Košice) and the United Kingdom (Birmingham) provided a set of examples for discussing the role of cultural and creative industries in the development of cities and regions. Furthermore issues in releasing the creativity embodied in cultural heritage and citizen’s perspectives of the value of cultural heritage / historic environment were addressed.

 Cultural and Creative Industries

The presentation of Denise Barrett (Birmingham City Council, UK) made clear that cultural and creative industries should not only be seen as a driver of economic growth but also as vital for cross-sector innovations. She illustrated such “creative spillovers” with the case of public health services. The Birmingham City Council must enable the city fulfill the public health function despite shrinking public funds. The critical need to develop new ways of working and business models has been addressed by stimulating creative approaches and collaborations.
Tamás Egedy addressed the success factors of creative and knowledge-intensive industries. Instead of Richard Florida’s 3T’s (Talent, Technology, Tolerance) he emphasized Pathways, Place, Personal Networks, the 3P’s that were identified in the ACRE project. As strong impediments of success he noted lack of clear strategies, bureaucracy, missing cooperation between local / regional authorities and other actors, a weak civil society, and outflow of talent. He also presented interesting figures for the Creative Economy (creative industries + knowledge-intensive industries) in Hungary and the Budapest metropolitan region, e.g. location, number of enterprises, employees and revenues. Furthermore he gave an overview of major urban regeneration projects as well as industrial clustering (e.g. the Mobility and Multimedia Cluster) in Budapest.

European Capitals of Culture – Pécs 2010 vs. Košice 2013

Two speakers presented the approaches and experiences of European Capitals of Culture (ECoCs): András Trócsanyi of Pécs 2010 (Hungary) and Marián Matusák of Košice 2013 (Slovakia). The comparison showed considerable differences in terms of implementation and results: Pécs 2010 was mostly focused on building cultural infrastructure and revitalizing public spaces. This was needed and made Pécs a more liveable city for the local population. Intended other effects such as “putting the city on the map” (e.g. tourism) and stimulating the cultural and creative economy were hardly achieved. In contrast, the Košice 2013 ECoC was used strategically to promote and cluster cultural and creative industries. Important regional actors (e.g. IT industry, universities, public agencies) became active stakeholders in the Creative Economy Master Plan. Infrastructure investment was focused on centers of art and media production and consumption, and much attention was paid to skills development and professionalization. 

Cultural heritage as “embodied creativity” and citizen’s perspectives 

Two further presentations brought cultural heritage more centre stage. Tamás Fejérdy addressed cultural heritage as “embodied creativity”. This concept understands cultural heritage as creative expressions, embodied in historic architecture and moveable cultural objects as held by museums and galleries. Conservation of built cultural heritage and creativity are not opposites, if re-use of and additions are truly creative. One of the criteria for such creativity is that the creative intervention should be rooted in and appropriate to the particular heritage site, not a fashionable, “forced creativity” intervention. What is needed is a creative solution that ensures at the same time preservation of heritage values and meeting new needs of social life and economic activities. In the historical evolution of cities such “creative answers” often formed a rich, multi-layered heritage, expressing the continuity and cultural identity of the community. The speaker also thought that creative cities should have the resilience and capacity to renew themselves without losing their cultural heritage and identity. 
Ági Pap presented results of her recently completed PhD thesis at the University of Szeged. The empirical work focused on three very different cultural heritage neighbourhoods in Budapest: the Castle District, the Inner-Erzsébetváros, and the Wekerle Estate. The research results showed considerable differences in what the residents perceive as advantages and disadvantages of living in these heritage areas, contributions of the heritage to local identity and attachment of the residents, and conflicts between the residents and the various actors involved in the urban development. Disadvantages included lots of tourists in the Castle District; dirt, unpleasant smells and noise in the Inner-Erzsébetváros (an area of vivid night-life); regulations imposed by monument protection in the Wekerle Estate, where the buildings/flats are mostly owned by the residents. Heritage buildings as part of the residential environment added to feeling at home in all three areas, but less so in the Inner-Erzsébetváros. The more intensively an area can and is “developed” (which is mainly the case in the Inner-Erzsébetváros), the more lines of conflicts there are between different actors.

A more detailed summary of the workshop presentations, discussion and results is available in the full workshop report. The report also contains links to organisations and projects mentioned in the workshop as well as related publications of the speakers and other researchers.