- Making spaces for creativity: designating cultural quarters   click here to open paper content46 kb
by    McCarthy, John | j.p.mccarthy@dundee.ac.uk   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
‘Cultural quarters’ encourage the spatial clustering of culture-related uses to achieve economic regeneration outcomes. This paper considers four case studies of UK cultural quarters to show how best practice can be applied in other contexts.
In many cities the arts and cultural sectors have been harnessed so as to bring about sustainable economic regeneration, and relevant mechanisms include the encouragement of spatial cultural clustering by means of ‘cultural quarters’. These are areas where a critical mass of culture-related activity is seen as providing the basis for further clustering of related uses so as to bring anticipated regeneration outcomes. Such ‘cultural quarters’ may include production-oriented creative industries such as music production and visual arts production, as well as related consumption-oriented uses such as museums, cinemas, bars and restaurants. While most cities in the UK have designated such areas, there are important areas of contention in terms of cultural quarters. First, there is contention over the defining characteristics and criteria that such areas should fulfil, and second, there is contention over whether such areas should be formally or informally designated. In terms of defining characteristics, opinion differs as to whether these should relate primarily to production, consumption, mixed uses, or more explicitly to physical or design-based aspects. In terms of designation, some recommend formal designation in terms of specific zones within statutory local planning documents, with related planning policies to encourage appropriate culture-related uses, while others recommend informal designation by means of non-statutory policy statements and implementation plans. This paper examines evidence of innovative practice in relation to each of these areas of contention. Specifically, case studies of two formally-designated ‘cultural quarters’ (in Dundee in Scotland and Wolverhampton in England), and two informally-designated quarters (the Merchant City in Glasgow, Scotland, and the Northern Quarter in Manchester, England), are examined in detail, and conclusions are reached regarding best practice for the design and development of appropriate spaces for creativity. These conclusions are of relevance to practitioners and policy-makers in other contexts.
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