by Ares Kalandides
The other day, following an “unfortunate” speech by the Greek minister of Culture and Sports, I offered some thoughts on culture and the creative economy (here on this blog). Only the day after, on Sunday 23rd February 2014, the newly designated Italian minster of Culture and Tourism, Dario Franceschini, stressed the economic dimension of the future Italian cultural policy, in an interview for the Italian newspaper Il sole 24 ore. I think there is a need to elaborate more on my initial thoughts on culture, economy and the creative industries, and try to clarify what I think are profound misconceptions.
by Ares Kalandides
On 20th of February 2014, the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports Mr. Panos Panagiotopoulos delivered the opening speech of the EU conference ‘Financing Creativity’ in Athens. The aim of the conference was to address models of cultural policy for the coming decades, but as it has been the fashion in the past 15 years in Europe, it turned into a meaningless discourse full of platitudes and dangerous oversimplifications around the notion of the creative economy.
“I was so negatively surprised: This city looks exactly like a city in Europe or the US.”
“I couldn’t believe how they can do so much wrong – it is so different from our cities.”
I heard someone expressing these two opinions last week. We are in a city in Southeast Asia, although this does not really matter for the argument I am going to develop.
The quoted person was trying to explain why the city we were in is an extreme example for what can go wrong in urban development – traffic, car dependency, overcrowding, oversized malls, environmental pollution, no green space or public areas, etc. The quoted person explained to me how the big malls, the lack of public space, and all those cars prove how decision makers of that city had simply copied the textbook global city as we can find it in industrialized countries (or often referred to as ‘the West’ by many people). At the same time, the quoted person expressed concerns that these decision makers have been directing/managing the urban development of their city in the wrong direction – particularly contrasting what city managers in ‘the West’ are doing now; i.e. the quoted person was missing bicycle lanes, small-scale buildings and mixed-used neighborhoods, organic food markets, and low emission zones.
When, in 2012 UNESCO decided to include Bogotá in the network of creative cities, the surprise was huge: the city of drugs and kidnapping, of violence and of civil war, a “creative city”? Yes, it is hard to believe that Bogotá was once called “Athens of South America»”(Atenas Suramericana) because of its richness in local poetry. Culture in all its expressions accompanies this divided and so contradictory city of approx. 8 million inhabitants. (more…)
A critical discussion about “Global Cities” is neither new to this blog (see for instance 1, 2, 3) nor to the community of critical geographic research. However, our understanding of “Global Cities” and “Ordinary Cities” in the context of Africa’s huge urban (development) diversity can still be expanded, as the April 2014 Edition of “Environment and Urbanization” proves. One article (here) by the International Institute for Environment and Development introduces two contributions to that journal edition, which specifically discuss the reshaping of African urban spaces under globally advocated development paradigms. Personally, I made my own experiences with the ‘Global Cityness’ of Nairobi (here), and Areas Kalandides has also written about related topics with regard to Johannesburg (here). So there is much to read and still more to discover.
“This geographical division fits squarely with mainstream views, which see corruption as the scourge of the developing world (cue cliché images of dictators in Africa and bribery in India). But is this storyline accurate? [...]
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. If we really want to understand how corruption drives poverty in developing countries, we need to start by looking at the institutions that control the global economy, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation.”
Comment by Ares Kalandides: In my opinion there are several problems with the Corruption Perception Index which I can sum up here: (more…)
Last year our team completed a Regional Development Plan for a part of Niederlausitz in Brandenburg, an area physically marked by open lignite mines and poor lands, by structurally low economic performance, high unemployment and an aging population (s. my open questions about such plans here). At the same time, during a rather different process – our Economic Development Plan 2020 for the City of Potsdam – we identified the existence of enormous talent, coming out of regional higher education institutions. Yet, as soon as their studies are over, for many reasons I will come back to later, young talented people leave the area. This is how we came up with the idea to start a new project, linking these two areas with each other – a project that we called COBRA (Collaborative Labour Opportunities in Brandenburg). (more…)