Creativity and The City – Thinking through the Steps
By Charles Landry

Confronting Strategies in Urban Reinvention - The Urban Reinventors, Issue Nr. 1, June 2007

The aim of creative city making is to think of your city as a living work of art, where citizens can involve and engage themselves in the creation of a transformed place. This will require different creativities: The creativity of the engineer, the social worker, the planner, the business person, the events organizer, the architect, the housing specialist, IT specialists, psychologists, historians, anthropologists, natural scientists, environmentalists, artists of all kinds and importantly ordinary people living their lives as citizens. This is comprehensive creativeness. It involves differing forms not only the thrusting creativity of discovering a new technical invention but also the soft creativity of making interaction in the city flow. Every period of history requires its own form of creativity. Today’s will be different from yesterday’s and tomorrow’s. Now we need to focus on the creativity of working across disciplines in an interconnected whole so we can see issues and solutions in the round. We need to think both horizontally and vertically, to see strategy and detail, the parts and whole and the woods and the trees simultaneously.

Creativity is not the answer to all our urban problems but it creates the pre-conditions within which it is possible to open out opportunities to find solutions. Most importantly it requires a change in mindset. Urban creativity requires an ethical framework to drive the city forward not in a prescriptive sense. At is core this ethic is about something life giving, sustaining, opening out rather than curtailing. This requires us to focus on soft creativity, which is the ability to nurture our cities and their cultural ecology (…).

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Charles Landry is urban theorist and founder of COMEDIA, one of Europe’s leading cultural planning consultancy. COMEDIA has worked in 35 countries including Canada, Japan, Australia, Bosnia, The Netherlands, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Poland, South Africa, Finland, Sweden, the USA, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Croatia, New Zealand and Yemen. Charles Landry and Comedia have undertaken several hundred projects concerned with revitalizing public, social and economic life through cultural activity; quality of life studies; cultural industry development projects and city and regional strategies.

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