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Creative Edinburgh @ Think up Culture! 2017: What we learnt

We were delighted to present at Palma's Think up Culture! conference; here's what we learnt

The beautiful old city of Palma was the setting for an important conference hosted by Power House Hub & Balears et Turisme which brought together some of the most interesting international actors in the field of Creative Districts and Audience Development among Tourism. Three days of workshops, lectures and presentations were delivered and 13 new projects were selected by the hosts to be mentored and presented to investors. The knowledge generated at the conference will be used for a future white book of CCI.

Creative Edinburgh was represented in Palma by Dr Stacey Hunter [@LocalHeroesScot], a long standing member of the Creative Edinburgh steering group. We presented at a session on the subject of Cultural and Creative Districts and Citiesand Viability and Sustainability of Cultural and Creative Districts concentrating on key areas and factors for success. We described how Creative Edinburgh is working to help make Edinburgh a city that supports creative districts. Part of this story is that with over 3,000 creative businesses and individual members, we’re a powerful network who have been able to actively nurture, and provide scale and critical mass to increase capacity of the creative sector. Creative Edinburgh is also the UK hub for the European Creative Hubs Network [@CreativeHubsEU], leading the way in the creation of new hubs across Europe.

The conference group were particularly interested in how we participated in the Desire Lines [@DL_Edin] process, asking “What makes Edinburgh a culturally successful city?” and how that allowed us to explore together the real and perceived challenges currently faced by the arts and culture sector, and to consider the necessary steps to protect and nourish Edinburgh’s artistic community. Through Desire Lines we found that the development of a ‘cultural quarter or zone’ has been heavily criticised as artificial and destructive to organic clustering while, on the other hand, the creation of a hub for intergenerational and cross-discipline mixing, enabling artists to meet, share and exchange ideas, remains a popular idea.

Stacey also presented our partnership project of August 2016, Local Heroes, as an example of a pioneering cross-sector partnership with expertise in design, culture, cities, creativity, enterprise, entrepreneurship, travel and tourism. Creative Edinburgh worked with Creative Dundee, Edinburgh Airport, VisitScotland and Creative Scotland to present Scottish design talent to the world.

Our colleagues and fellow European Creative Hubs Network members Nova Iskra [@NovaIskra] presented ‘What we learned about hubs’ in a charismatic presentation from Marko Radenković who had travelled from Belgrade in Serbia. Insights were of a practical nature and focused on sharing experiences to help others create the right model for their own city. Marko found that in Nova Iskra’s experience co-working works “only if you manage to obtain low rent”. He emphasised the importance of being clear about who your community is and found that money spent on space design was money well spent. Marko concluded his talk by noting that by developing for-profit models creative districts can support non-profit experiments although he cautioned that too many experiments can be fatal for the young organisation.

Chloé Faton, Wallonia European Creative District (BE) [@creativewal] presented on behalf of Creative Wallonia, Belgium. She described her organisation’s journey to connect the creative people in the Wallonia region with their representatives- and how they successfully made creativity relevant to industry and economic policy makers. Chloé emphasised that in the early stages iteration was key- “We are always asking ourselves why are we doing this? Who is this for?” She noted that at one stage they realised “we are talking to ourselves!”. Over the last ten years, Wallonia has mainly favoured networking in order to consolidate its most promising sectors. This approach appears to have paid off: various studies or independent indicators testify to the excellent results registered by Wallonia, specifically in the foreign investment and the export areas.

Finally, a presentation on Farm Cultural Park - an ambitious project that has transformed the run-down and semi-abandoned heart of Favara, in southern Sicily, into a modern art exhibition. Alessandro Cacciato [@alecacciato] described how Farm have provided evidence to the residents of Sicily that anything is possible and that great enthusiasm is now directed at making dreams real. The session’s moderator, Pep Lluis Pons [@PonsPep]- Directorate General for Research and Innovation, Government of the Balearic Islands- concluded the day’s discussions by saying “Keep dreaming! Doubts kill more dreams than failure”.

To follow the project on twitter use the hashtag #ThinkUpCulture and visit http://thinkupculture.eu/en/.

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