Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2014 - Page 14

Photo: Ari Karttunen / EMMA Culture Club Culture drives cities, cities push culture Photo: Ari Karttunen / EMMA In metropolises around the world, there is a thirst for all things cultural. Culture is no longer a fringe player in the big boys’ game: it is a full-fledged economic sector which impacts urban environment on various levels, ranging from direct and indirect expenditure to employment generation. C ultural flagships such as Rotterdam’s waterfront redevelopment or Vienna’s Museum Quarter are often visited by politicians from near and far and the quest is on for pretty much every major city to secure a cultural attraction worthy of praise. But what is it that makes these cultural havens tick? And is it possible to “manufacture” culture-based success stories as you would manufacture cars or mobile phones? According to researchers Jan van der Borg and Antonio Paolo Russo, it is good to keep in mind that cultural industries are typically labour-intensive; their organisation model is rather the network interaction of micro and small producers than the supply chain hierarchy of Fordist industries. 12 Nordicum The Urban Connection Moreover, cultural production is highly contextual and idiosyncratic. For these reasons, city centres are privileged spaces for cultural production, providing ideal workspace for artists and cultural managers. Eventually, the local economy comes to thrive off it, establishing a symbiotic relation with culture. Erasmus University Rotterdam researchers Van der Borg and Russo note that culture generates substantial “intangible” economic effects. It has a “soft function” of animation and enhancement of the quality of life, which is an increasingly important element of a city’s competitiveness. It stimulates human creativity, and the capacity to innovate. New symbolic meanings and values become inputs to innovative production concepts and processes. A city can market itself as an ideal location for people and firms, and a preferred cultural destination for tourists. And whether you’re talking about New York’s loft living or Berlin’s underground art scene it is clear that a truly unique, original cultural mix can become a recognisable brand –and brands mean money. Culture Boosts Business Furthermore, culture may contribute to a more balanced and sustainable urban development. Culture has been deployed successfully in urban revitalisation projects in degraded urban areas throughout the developed world. It also serves as an equalizer, providing a formidable opportunity for personal development and social interaction among weaker groups. Van der Borg and Russo argue that in the multi-cultural city, culture can be a lever that stimulates pride, personal development, and self-fulfillment for minorities, and at the