PASCO: animating communities through the creative industries (further horizons)

 The PASCO (Performing Arts Scene in Obrenovac) project has had significant effects on the cultural infrastructure in the Obrenovac municipality since the project started in 2009. Due to generous support both locally, Buskerud County in Norway and the KS funding programme of the Norwegian government, PASCO has had demonstrable economic, cultural and social impact on the region. The Aspire Trust, together with its Serbian and Norwegian partners had a critical role to play and this post discusses how the future might unfold and what is on the planning horizon.

We propose a cultural regeneration programme across the other ‘Inner Ring’ Municipalities of Belgrade. We propose to work with the 6 municipalities of Grocka, Lazarevac, Obrenovac, Barajevo, Surcin, Mladenovac and Sopot (the GLOB-SMS Consortium) in order to stimulate and support the development of local and regional cultural infrastructures across the Belgrade City Region.

We want to contribute to the development of regional infrastructure and in doing so establish a wider gateway to Serbia and the Balkans as a whole for innovative arts and cultural regeneration practice.

We see a future time where the GLOB-SMS consortium is able to demonstrate significant growth in its tourist derived income, its economic activity from its cultural sector and a burgeoning creative industries sub-sector who are rooted in the communities, traditions and folklore of the GLOB-SMS consortium. We see the GLOB-SMS Consortium branching out to wider national and international market places and in doing so, demonstrating that the future of economic regeneration is dependent on a lively innovative and generative creative sector.

We see the GLOB-SMS Consortium removing their dependence on the presence of single regional or capital city, but that they take their energy, initiative and spirit of development from the communities and spaces on the periphery of those cities. We see the GLOB-SMS consortium demonstrating that the creative city has reached the end of its conceptual lifetime. We argue that it is the creative networked communities of those communities ‘on the edge’ which will provide the lead, inspiration and vision for the development of culture for the next 20 years.

How does a creative school become a creative city?

Many cities around the world present themselves as undergoing programmes of regeneration by aiming to engage the efforts of the local ‘creative communities‘ for the benefits of the city and and presenting themselves as a site of creativity and hub of contemporary culture.

In The Rise of the Creative Class Richard Florida interprets these ‘creative communities’ as a creative class: latter day, Platonic philosopher rulers, requiring ‘less creative’ members of society who struggle to cite a single classical composer or who don’t know their Michael Jackson from their Jackson Pollock, to provide services and facilities which they – the creative classes – are either too busy, preoccupied or aloof to have to contend with themselves.

Ironically, the city’s desire to democratise creativity, to become an attractive place for ‘the creatives’ and to make creativity a gregarious cultural process tends to generate a hierarchical structure of city boundaried privileged locations of loft conversions and artistic architraves amongst the archetypes.

Jamie Peck’s analysis of Florida suggests that: Florida’s street level analog of such attempts to ‘harness’ creativity comes in the form of a celebration of the buzzing, trendy neighborhood, a place where everyday innovation occurs through spontaneous interaction… a place where outsiders can quickly become insiders’…

Schools who wish to develop creativity in the classroom perhaps begin to resemble creative cities as outsiders are encouraged to visit them with the enticements of earning potential or employment, becoming in the process a veritable market place for creative practitioners.

Peck continues to identify what is required of a city to make the transformation to a creative city by referring to the development of a Tool-kit for Cities by Cortwright, for the American management consultancy, Impresa and Coletta:

Impresa and Coletta’s Tool-Kit for Cities

* Deliver an ‘appealing reality’, because ‘young people are very savvy in assessing cities’;
* Put values on display, demonstrating how the city ‘welcomes newcomers and new ideas’;
* Keep in touch with former residents, and find ways to have them ‘return to your city’;
* Create opportunities for civic involvement, deliberately seeking out the opinions of young people;
* Use internships to connect with young adults;
* Survey young adults regularly, including ‘exit interviews’;
* Celebrate young entrepreneurs and civic contributors;
* Communicate development plans to young adults;
* Promote your city: ‘place marketing works best when it is based on authentic stories that people are willing to tell about their cities’;
* Promote a young adult lifestyle, particularly ‘active nightlife’, and do not be fearful that this might ‘scare off the soccer moms’

Mapping out these criteria for creative cities against schools OfSTED reports offers some tentative support to the notion that schools, rather than places of teaching and learning actually are better described as creative cities. The pedagogical implications of seeing a school as a city are immense and will be explored in later blogs.