Skip main navigation

Culture, creativity and urban spaces

In Europe, cities concentrate the production and consumption of cultural goods. This video shows the creative specialization of European cities.
Culture today is a key element of strategies of urban planning. From large flagship developments, the opening of an art gallery, of a concert hall, or of a museum, to micro activities associated with small-scale cultural entrepreneurs and urban activists. Coalitions for urban transformation stress the importance of public space and how urban design might provide the basis for a new popular urban vision. In today’s more advanced economies, cultural industries typically represent anything from 4% to 8% of total employment, and their importance is growing rapidly. In the case of major metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Milan, or Tokyo, the incidence of employment in the cultural economy may rise to 25% or even up to 40% of the total.
The central area of these cities are encircled and permeated with specialised industrial districts, in sectors such as motion pictures, music, multimedia, architecture, fashion, jewellery, furniture, interior design, live theatre, artists’ studios, clubs, galleries, coffee houses, and so on. Today, in Europe, when it is about art and literature, the main cities for cultural industries are Paris, London, Lisbon, Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Budapest, Prague, Madrid, and Amsterdam. In addition, other cities are important when we look at advertising and design such as Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Darmstadt, Bologna, Venice, Turin, Brighton, and Florence. The software and games industry takes us to Stockholm, Dublin, Oslo, and Maastricht. Whilst radio and TV are important in other cities such as Cologne, Bucharest, and Athens.
But why are cities so important for cultural industries? And why are cultural and creativity so crucial to new urban visions? Allen J. Scott says the city is the, “primary location for the production of cultural commodities,” which involves high levels of human input and is organised in clusters. Cultural industries mainly rely on freelancers and small and micro-businesses. This is one of the reasons why, also in Europe, they are closely linked to cities, which have the great advantage of providing pools of knowledgeable, skillful, and flexible human resources at any time– latent networks that can be reactivated when needed.

This video stresses the importance of culture in urban strategies. It explains how cultural industries contribute to urban economies.

The video presents also the geography of creative industries in Europe, going through various sectors such as visual arts or fashion.

Cities nurture creativity because they provide pools of knowledge workers and opportunities for creative individuals.

Tell us about your own experience:

How do cultural industries impact the city where you live?

This article is from the free online

Cultures and Identities in Europe

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now