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Europe's urban civilisation in a virtual world
Peter Hall, 2008
Lecture given at the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona on 13th June 2008, during the awards ceremony for the 5th European Prize for Urban Public Space.

You sometimes hear the argument that current trends suggest no future for cities at all. Ten years ago Frances Cairncross predicted the «Death of Distance»: a world in which the traditional distance-deterrence effects, embodied in every locational model, diminish to zero and the entire world becomes a frictionless plain on which it is perfectly easy to locate any activity anywhere (Cairncross, 1995, 1997). In such a scenario, everyone will be free to locate in the place that best suits their personal preferences and whims, intercommunicating freely and at uniform cost with every other person in the world. Because the long-term trend in advanced societies has been for people to migrate from city to suburb and from suburb to countryside, so this scenario runs, we can expect a huge dispersal of human beings and human activities across continents. Five thousand and more years of city-building will come to an end: the traditional advantages of the city as a place for doing business, and for living, will finally have been eroded.

The reasoning behind this argument is economic, technological and organisational. Economically, the balance of production in advanced economies has shifted sharply away from manufacturing and goods-handling and towards services, especially those that handle information. Manuel Castells has described this as the transition to the informational mode of production: a shift as momentous, in his view, as the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy in the 18th and 19th centuries (Castells, 1989; Castells, 1996; Hall, 1995b, 1995c). This is not new: it was already recognised over half a century ago (Clark, 1940); by 1991, in typical advanced countries, already by 1991 between three-fifths and three-quarters of all employment was in services, while between one third and one-half was in information handling: for information, the proportions were 48%for the United States, 46%for the UK, 45%for France, 39% for Germany and 33% for Japan. Typically these proportions have doubled since the 1920s (Castells, 2000, p. 304-324). The trends are very strong and consistent, so there can be little doubt that the proportions will continue to rise, so that by 2025, 80-90% of employment in these economies will be in services, and up to 60-70% will be in information production and exchange.

The question then becomes: what exactly is the nature of the work performed in these informational services, and what does that imply for their location? Manuel Castells' celebrated work speaks of the «space of flows», the space where the information flows (Castells, 1989, 1996). In research on Four World Cities, comparing London, Paris, New York and Tokyo, we distinguished four key sectors of the metropolitan economy: financial and business services, both financial and nonfinancial (including the fast-growing design services like architecture, engineering and fashion); command and control functions, such as company headquarters, national and international government agencies, and the whole web of activities that grows around them; cultural and creative industries including the live arts and the electronic and print media; and tourism, both leisure and business (G.B. Government Office For London, 1996). These are highly synergistic; and many key activities (hotels, restaurants; museums, art galleries; the media) occupy the interstices between these four sectors. All four sectors essentially deal with the generation, exchange and utilisation of information in different forms. They relate closely to the cognitive-cultural economy identified in Allen Scott's. They cater simultaneously for local, national and international markets; the international business, though generally a minority share, is significant in providing an export base. Further, they merge rather confusingly with advanced consumer services (conferences; cultural tourism) which, in practice, are often difficult to distinguish. Some, but not all of them, are now exhibiting productivity gains associated with the injection of information technology, which is producing jobless growth. They offer a wide range of job opportunities, but - as stressed by Scott - there is a sharp tendency to polarisation: on the one hand there are what Robert Reich (1991) has called the symbolic analysts, performing jobs that require high formal education, professional training and interpersonal skills; on the other, there is a wide range of semi-casual and lowpaid work in personal services, which offer no career prospects and are often unattractive as an alternative to welfare payments (Wilson, 1987, 1996).

Technologically, the cost of both personal travel and of telecommunications has dramatically fallen over the last half century, as the first jet airliners have been supplanted by the jumbo jets and as the internet has become the medium of preference for telecommunication. Organisationally, global corporations have exploited these technologies to extend into every country, crossing and increasingly ignoring national boundaries. But globalisation too is not new. Ancient Athens and Renaissance Florence were global cities for their worlds, as was London from the 16th century onward (Hall, 1998). Thirty foreign banks were already established in London before 1914 — by 1985, the number had grown more than fourteen-fold, to 434 (Thrift, 1987, p. 210; King, 1990, p. 89-90, p. 113; Moran, 1991, p. 4; Coakley, 1992, p. 57-61; Kynaston 1994, 1995, passim). So the scope of globalisation has progressively widened.

But there are problems with the «death of the city» formulation. First, though it is undoubtedly true that the long term trend is for both transportation costs and communication costs to fall, and even fall dramatically, they never quite diminish to zero, nor do they become spatially indifferent; it will always cost more to call New York than another part of London. The internet may appear to be the exception, but high-speed broadband access will always be unevenly available, with the highest-level access available in the major centres where there is the most demand. Long-distance personal movement has also fallen in cost, but less dramatically; and there are additional time-costs in being located remotely from major air or rail hubs.

There has been much discussion of the importance of telework. This seems to divide into two entirely different phenomena: first, call centres, which are highly agglomerated large-scale factory-style units, highly prone to offshoring to lower- cost locations and to replacement by web-based direct access; second, part-time home-work on the part of professionals, a large and increasing proportion of the total workforce in informational industries and occupations, who may increasingly divide their working time among three very different types of activity: quiet solitary work (reading, report writing); face-to-face meetings either in offices or conference-style settings; and electronic communication, which increasingly takes place almost anywhere. The first of these can be well performed in a well-equipped home office used for quiet work, and so can be - and often is - dispersed, even to quite remote (but accessible) rural locations. The second remains agglomerated, though not always in traditional central locations: a new archetype is the IBM building at Bedfont Lakes next to London's Heathrow airport, which consists of electronically-equipped hot-desk facilities for short stays plus a variety of café-type meeting facilities. The third is performed in a variety of mobile working places such as conference facilities, trains, airplanes, airport lounges and hotel bedrooms - and so is also agglomerated, but along lines of travel, including travel hubs - which also, of course, are central locations for all kinds of tourism, including business tourism.

There is a basic reason for this continuing agglomeration: although telecommunications can substitute for personal movement, they can also complement and stimulate it. It was observable that the invention of the telephone, in 1876, was immediately followed by the development of concentrations of high-rise business offices in the centres of New York City and Chicago, together with the growth of commuter railroad traffic; paradoxically, the telephone had a concentrating rather than a dispersing effect on business (Hall, 1998, p. 770). This was explained by John Goddard, whose early work on London showed that the telephone was used for preliminary «programmed» contacts but personal meetings were used for more important discussions of an «unprogrammed» nature, where the outcome was uncertain (Goddard, 1973). Evidence from France suggests that over a period of more than a century, roughly since the spread of the electric telegraph and the invention of the telephone, personal business traffic has grown at almost exactly the same pace as telecommunications traffic (Graham and Marvin, 1996). This strongly suggests that telecommunications of all kinds do not finally replace the need for face-to-face contact. Not merely the growth of personal business traffic by air and rail, but also the development of the conference/convention industry, suggest that this must be the case.
This continuing significance of face-to-face communication is surely true, if data were available, intercontinentally, internationally, and within a country: personal transport increases with electronic communication. All the evidence, even from high priests of cyberspace like Bill Gates or Bill Mitchell of MIT (Gates, 1995; Mitchell, 1995), suggests that city centres will retain their unique role in providing the most efficient locations for much of this activity, simply because of the accumulated weight of interrelated functions that have historically accrued there, and because radially-oriented transport systems focus on them. The 1996 Four World Cities study showed that although some activities decentralise from the major cities, others grow to take their place. This is the basic reason why the economies of cities like London, Madrid, New York and Los Angeles are now growing so remarkably: it is that the economic drivers so heavily concentrate in these cities. The empirical evidence suggests that the hierarchy of cities here in Europe has not changed very much in the last 40 years and will not change very much in the future.

So the need is to understand how information moves for face-to-face communication. Over longer distances it will continue to move by air, through the great international airports (Shin and Timberlake, 2000). It is interesting to notice the correspondence between this list and another from recent research by the GaWC (Globalisation and World Cities) Programme at Loughborough University in England, which shows the urban hierarchy of the informational or knowledge economy (Taylor, 2004). The two are significantly very similar.

The main new influence is likely to be the development of the high-speed train system, on present plans largely in place shortly before 2010 (Hall, 1995a). We know from extensive experience here in Europe, and in Japan, that these trains will take about 80 to 90% of traffic up to about 500 kilometres and about 50% up to about 800 kilometres; the most recent evidence from France suggests the competitive range of the high-speed train may be even greater because of its comfort and convenience for business travellers (Pepy and Leboeuf, 2005; Pepy and Perren, 2006). This means that by 2010, when the system will connect all the principal cities of Europe from Bari right up to Glasgow and Umeå, virtually all traffic between key city pairs - Naples and Rome and Milan, Milan and Paris, Munich and Cologne, Cologne and Brussels, Brussels and London, Brussels and Paris, Copenhagen and Stockholm - will go by rail. The longer-distance traffic - southern to northern Europe, far west Europe to far east Europe, as well, of course, as intercontinental traffic - will largely remain in the air, and a critical planning question will then become the linkages at the airports between the two systems. We can already see these at Europe's most advanced airports: Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris-Charles de Gaulle. The likelihood is that these places will become effectively new urban centres, as Dejan Sudjic suggested over a decade ago (Sudjic, 1992). They will not only attract a vast amount of business in the form of conference centres, exhibition centres and hotels; they are likely to become shopping centres in their own right, as you can see from the plans for London's new Heathrow Terminal Five. So they will compete with traditional downtown areas as business hubs.

The Creative Class and the Creative City

Richard Florida argues that the entire nature of work in advanced economies has demonstrated a major shift: in the United States in 1999, the Creative Class numbered 38.3 million Americans, roughly 30% of the workforce, against 10% during the period 1900 to 1950 and 20% in the 1970s and 1980s; a Super-Creative Core included 15 million workers or 12% of the workforce against only 2.5% in 1900. Florida further argues that this Creative Class has become a major factor of location in its own right: it chooses congenial locations in which to live, and in effect generates new economic growth in new places (Florida, 2002, p. 5-7). It is moving away from traditional corporate communities and Working Class centres like Pittsburgh and even from Sunbelt regions in the south, to a set of Creative Centres like the San Francisco Bay Area in California, Austin (Texas) and Seattle, not for «the physical attractions that most cities focus on building - sports stadiums, freeways, urban malls and tourism-andentertainment districts that resemble theme parks - [which] are irrelevant, insufficient or actually unattractive to many Creative Class people. What they look for are abundant highquality amenities and experiences, an openness to diversity of all kinds, and above all the opportunities to validate their identities as creative people» (Florida, 2002, p. 218).

Florida goes on to try to quantify exactly what gives such places a specially attractive milieu. He develops a dependent variable, the Creativity Index, which is a mixture of four equally weighted factors: (1) the Creative Class share of the workforce; (2) innovation, measured as patents per capita; (3) a High-Tech industry index; and (4) diversity, measured by the Gay Index, used as a proxy for an area's openness to different kinds of people and ideas. This puts the San Francisco Bay Area as the undisputed leader in creativity; other leading metropolitan areas include both established East Coast cities like Boston, New York and Washington DC, as well as younger high-tech places like Austin (Texas), Seattle, San Diego and Raleigh-Durham (Florida, 2002, pp. 245-6). He concludes that a «Bohemian Index», measuring the «number of writers, designers, musicians, actors and directors, painters and sculptors, photographers and dancers», is «an amazingly strong predictor of everything from a region's high technology base to its overall population and employment growth» (Florida, 2002, p. 260). He does not however produce regression results, nor is it at all clear what is supposed to cause what: it appears that there may be a circular process, whereby growing activities attract talented workers who then, in turn, generate new activities and new growth by a process of circular and cumulative causation. Florida's work is based on American data and it is unclear whether it would produce similarly clear patterns if extended worldwide. Recent work, for instance, has compared the successful development of creative industries in London, Vancouver and Singapore, finding an explanation in the presence of a «traditional» or old urban structure (Hutton, 2006). Yet Singapore does not fit easily into Florida's definition of the elements of a successful creative city.

An Historically-Based Approach

An entirely different, historically-based approach came from the present author in a study of six «creative cities» (Hall, 1998): Athens in the fifth century B.C.; Renaissance Florence; Shakespearean London; Vienna in the 18th and 19th centuries; Paris between 1870 and 1910; and Berlin in the 1920s. The first three of these cities became culturally creative long before they proved very adept either at technological advance, or in managing themselves effectively. All enjoyed golden ages even while the majority of their citizens laboured in abject poverty, and even while most people lived in conditions of abject squalor - at least, by today's standards.

These six cities varied enormously in size, but they were generally among the bigger and more important places of their time. They were generally rather unpleasant places, at least by the material standards of the early 21st century: even their haute bourgeoisie lived extraordinarily squalid lives compared to the average family in Europe or North America today. What was important was that every one of these cities was in the course of rapid economic and social transformation, a city that, in consequence, had grown with dizzy speed. Athens can hardly be called a capitalist city, but it was the first example in the world of a great global trading emporium with a complex system of exchange arrangements. The others were all capitalist cities, but interestingly with strong precapitalist features: Florence and London were still essentially guild craft cities, Vienna and Paris likewise had strong atelier traditions; only Berlin was a fully-fledged capitalist manufacturing city. They were all great trading cities; in the cases of Athens, Florence and London, the true global cities of their time. And out of trade came new ways of economic organisation, and out of those came new forms of production. Their geographical position, as ports or as national or regional capitals, helped here; but this was no guarantee, because there were other similarly placed cities that achieved far less. In economic terms they were sometimes world leaders (Athens, Florence, London, Berlin), sometimes laggards (Vienna, Paris); there is no clear pattern. But all led their respective polities, these polities were large by the standards of their day, and that made them magnets for the immigration of talent, as well as generators of the wealth that could help employ that talent.
The wealth clearly played an important role. Athens was not a rich place, but by our standards its citizens had exceedingly modest personal needs, and there was wealth to spare; the other European cities were by far the wealthiest places in their respective domains, and - as seen - that wealth was concentrated in relatively few hands, usually that of the rising bourgeoisie and the more canny of the old aristocracy, who might [though not inevitably] intermarry. So it was true that, as D.H. Lawrence once said, culture was founded on the deep dung of cash. That meant individual patronage, but it also meant community patronage whether at the level of the city or [after the arrival of the nation in early modern times] the nation state. The role of the community was always vital, whether in creating the Florentine Baptistery or the court theatres of London or the Louvre or the Vienna Rathaus or the great Berlin theatres.

These were all high-culture cities, cities in which culture was fostered by a minority and catered for the tastes of that minority. Athens was the last case in history, or perhaps the last before mass television culture, where an actual majority of the population could share the same plays or poems; and even then, of course, the majority was a minority, because it did not include the slaves. But in any subsequent place and time, art had a bourgeois clientele. That had to imply a very unequal distribution of wealth, because that would be needed to foster individual consumption, and also to generate a surplus necessary for state support. So most creative cities were bourgeois cities - but the reverse is not always true: by no means all, or most, bourgeois cities were creative; it was a necessary but not a sufficient condition.

So the presence of talent may be more important than the availability of wealth. And a notable feature is that recent in-migrants - sometimes from the countryside, but often from far-distant places - provided both the audience and the artists: the Metics of ancient Athens, the artists who came to Florence from the countryside or from further afield, the provincial musicians of Vienna and provincial artists of Paris, the Jews in fin-de-siècle Vienna. The creative cities were nearly all cosmopolitan; they drew talent from the far corners of the empires they controlled, often far-flung. Probably, no city has ever been creative without this kind of continued renewal of the creative bloodstream.

But these talented people then needed something, a stimulus, to react to. These were all cities in transition: a transition forward, into new and unexplored modes of organisation. Because these were all societies in economic transition, they were also societies in the throes of a transformation in social relationships, in values and in views about the world. As a huge generalisation, but one that works rather well, they all were in a state of uneasy and unstable tension: between a set of conservative forces and values - aristocratic, hierarchical, religious, conformist - and a set of radical values which were the exact opposite: bourgeois, open, rational, sceptical. In the book Cities in Civilization I say that «These were societies troubled about themselves, societies that were the course of losing the old certainties but were deeply concerned about what was happening to them». Because of the influence of Marxist thinking, there is a tendency to associate the first set of values with medieval feudalism and the second with modern capitalism, but it is more complicated: during the 19th century, the bourgeoisie might become a brake on the development of new artistic forms and new values, as was evident in 19th-century Paris. It might take a near-revolution and a total breakdown of the established aristocratic-bourgeois coalition, as in Berlin after 1918, to generate the creative spark. So Törnqvist and Andersson appear to be right: creative cities, creative urban milieux, are places of great social and intellectual turbulence, not comfortable places at all.

What appears to be crucial is that this disjuncture is experienced and expressed by a group of creative people who feel themselves in some way outsiders: they both belong and they do not belong, because they are young or because they are provincial or even foreign, or because they do not belong to the established order of power and prestige; quite often most or all of these things. That label applies to the Athenian Metics, to the guild craftsmen of Renaissance Florence, to the young actor-playwrights of Elizabethan London, to the court musicians and, later, the Jewish intellectuals of Vienna, to the Impressionists and, later, the Cubists, to the producers and writers who flocked from the provinces into Berlin in the 1920s. Great art is not produced by insiders, even though the artists may be patronised by insiders (as many of these groups were) and may in consequence enjoy a fleetingly close relationship to them. A creative city will therefore be a place where outsiders can enter and feel that state of ambiguity: they must neither be excluded from opportunity, neither must they be so warmly embraced that the creative drive is lost.

They must then communicate their avant-garde notions to at least part of the class that patronises them: they must communicate their uncertainties, their sense that there is another way of perceiving the reality of the world. That demands a widespread social and spiritual schism in the main stream society, wide enough to provide at least a minority of patrons for the new product. This is evident with the Athenians who heeded the doctrines of the Sophists and the playwrights who followed them, the Florentine burghers who commissioned the new naturalist religious art and finally had the temerity to put themselves in the pictures, the Elizabethan playgoers, whether in the galleries at the Globe or in the royal playhouses, the Viennese concertgoers who embraced romanticism or their great-grandchildren who eagerly read Die Fackel, the Parisian bourgeoisie who bought Manet and later Picasso, and their Berlin equivalents who flocked to Brecht's Theater am Schiffbauerdamm to hear their values parodied and attacked. So, once again, creative cities are almost certainly uncomfortable, unstable cities, cities in some kind of basic collective self-examination, cities in the course of kicking over the traces.

That means that there must be traces to kick over. Conservative, stable societies will not prove creative; but neither will societies in which all order, all points of reference, have disappeared. To a remarkable degree, creative cities have been those in which an oldestablished order, a too-long-established order, was being challenged or had just been overthrown; that was true, almost to a point of parody, of Vienna 1900, but it was only slightly less blatantly evident in the London of 1600, the Paris of 1860 or the Berlin of 1920. There is indeed something subversive about most serious art; it is likely to express the forces of discontent and unrest that challenge the old order of doing things and thinking things, and, at the same time, to help foster and give voice to those forces. That is self-evidently true of art with an explicit political purpose, such as Piscator's Berlin theatre; but it can be equally true of art with no such purpose or with a merely incidental political aim, such as most Elizabethan drama, Picasso's Cubist paintings or the work of the Viennese Sezession.

Is then the milieu purely a reflection of broad socio-economic forces in a particular place at a particular time, or does it spring from cultural traits that develop almost independently of the economic substructure? That proves a very difficult question. Athens' lead over the other Greek states can be explained in terms of Attica's central position and the consequent trading advantages within the eastern Mediterranean; but it seems difficult to express the scale of the difference. Likewise, 15th-century Italy had developed as the most advanced part of Europe, and Florence as perhaps the most advanced city in Italy; but again, the Florentine achievement appears quite disproportionate in comparison with cities like Siena or Verona, let alone Bologna or Parma or Ravenna. It seems that an initial economic advantage is massively transformed into a much larger cultural one. So it is almost as if there is such a socioeconomic explanation, but it is hardly enough to bear the weight of explaining why Athens or Florence should have developed so uniquely.

The Marriage of Art and Technology

Artistic creativity may form a union with a second kind of innovation, the kind initiated by the Industrial Revolution in England in the 1780s, to create the marriage of art and technology, which points the way to the 21st-century future. It is a 20th-century story which happened especially in the United States, and that is not surprising. America was not outstanding in technological invention, but it was unique in its capacity to turn inventions into commercially useful innovations. It very early developed traditions of mass production of standardised consumer goods for vast mass markets: the American system of manufacturing. It allied to this a populist concept of culture and entertainment, far removed from the European patrician attitude that public corporations should give the masses what was good for them; out of this, for good or ill, came Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley and commercial radio and television. The stories of Hollywood in the 1920s, and of Memphis Tennessee in the 1950s, were both stories of entrepreneurs, flourishing in a uniquely open society, who were able to reach new audiences: the immigrant masses of the eastern seaboard cities, the newly emerging black working class of the post-World-War II era and alienated teenagers growing up in the new suburban America. All were being ignored by the established commercial interests, all constituted new markets of almost limitless potential. So new entrepreneurs who empathised with their customers - the Jewish immigrants who created the Hollywood studios, the maverick record producers in Memphis - came along. The American media revolution was created by classic Schumpeterian new men, who fitted the classic definition of entrepreneurship given by one such entrepreneur, Henry Kaiser: Find a need and fill it. They discovered huge markets for new products. And in doing so, they effectively invented the products themselves: the movie industry was created by trial and error between The Great Train Robbery and The Birth of a Nation; modern popular music was invented in a few short years between Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones. The industry was always market-led, but in turn it led the market. In particular, it identified new mass markets - the turn-of-the-century immigrant communities in the cities, the bored and rebellious teenagers of postwar suburban America - and produced a new product that catered directly for their deepest emotional needs.

Almost certainly, it could not have happened in any other country. But what is puzzling, is why this should happen in two cities so far removed from the cultural mainstream, from the original New York powerhouse of the mass-media revolution. Such huge innovative capacity does not come easily. It can happen only in a society in extreme flux, where new socio-economic or ethnic groups are defining themselves and asserting themselves. New York in 1900, America's quintessential immigrant city, was one such, but it lost its touch, and its most successful entrepreneurs removed themselves to the opposite side of the continent. Memphis in 1950, the city where rural migration streams met on the eve of the cotton picking machine and of the civil rights era, was another.

Both the new industries existed in uneasy relationship, half-symbiotic, half-hostile, with the forces that created them. Movies, once past their nickelodeon origins, were expensive, capitalhungry products that needed yet more capital to exhibit them nationwide and worldwide; so the industry was soon in thrall to the bankers. But the individuals who had forged it were archetypal small and opportunistic entrepreneurs, who retained the attitudes of their youth; they rebelled against their bankers. The resulting organization of the industry, based on constant tension between producers and financiers 3,000 miles apart, was in a sense logical; out of it came the legendary hostility between the two urban cultures, New York seeing Los Angeles as superficial and gimmicky, Hollywood viewing Wall Street as stifling and philistine, and the East Coast elite wishing a plague on both houses.

Oddly, Tin Pan Alley was essentially created by the same cultural-ethnic group as Hollywood. It grew up catering for a mass market it understood viscerally, because it was them. But it destroyed itself, because finally it could not come to terms with the generation gap: it became an industry peopled by old men, catering for a teenage market. And worse even than that, comfortable old men who had forgotten their origins, losing touch with the grassroots of poverty and alienation that had once inspired them. These grassroots were deep in rural America, in the one part that had retained deep folk traditions out of Africa and England and Ireland, ironically because it was too poor to share in the media revolution that New York and Hollywood had sold to the rest of America. New entrepreneurs who knew those grassroots, either because they had grown up with them or because they emotionally responded to them, filled the gap: a classic Schumpeterian situation.

All this suggests that we may be surprised yet again. There may be another untapped market that no one is properly understanding or even knowing. It may be the millions of children playing with their computer games. It may be adults bored with their everyday lives, and seeking solace in fantasy worlds as yet impossible to grasp. Someone will empathise with such a group and produce another industry, the outlines of which are still dim and uncertain. The likelihood is that this will happen in a special kind of city, a city in economic and social flux, a city with large numbers of new and young arrivals, mixing and merging into a new kind of society. It sounds like London or Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco. The places that achieved the revolution the last time round could be the ones that achieve it next time. But not necessarily; there are no absolute rules in this ultimate game; time and chance happen to cities too.

The Next Innovative Wave — and its Geography

The practical question now has to be: how will creativity manifest itself in the 21st-century city? If there is to be yet another Schumpeterian burst of innovation, which may be beginning right now, and giving rise to a new long wave of economic growth based on new industries, what are the key new industries that will provide the basis for it?

There are at least two clear clues. One is the point with which this paper began: the huge expansion of the creative and cultural industries, which are no longer the playthings of a few rich patrons, but have become mass-consumption industries. The future Keynes predicted has arrived in the developed world, and during the next century it will happen in much of the nowdeveloping world. In the UK, Andy Pratt has shown that the cultural industries employ nearly one million people, some 4.5% of the workforce; they are as big as the construction industries, and of course they have grown far faster (Pratt, 1997).

The other clue is the one I emphasised a few minutes ago: that we're now seeing the convergence of artistic and technological creativity, two forms traditionally held to belong to different people and to opposite sides of the brain: Frances Cairncross calls such people «techno-bohos», and more recently Richard Florida has captured the same concept in his study of urban creativity (Cairncross, 1997; Florida, 2002). We have already noticed two outstanding previous examples, both American. It is no accident either that the United States has so far proved equally outstanding in the new multimedia industries that are developing through the marriage of computing and telecommunications. The basic technologies here are the Internet, developed in the 1960s by the American armed forces for military purposes, and the World Wide Web, actually discovered in Europe by an Englishman, Tim Berners-Lee. But again it has been American ingenuity that has developed the many commercial platforms that have exploited the new technologies in the 1990s, such as Netscape, Yahoo! and Google.

What matters here is not the basic technology but the uses that are made of it. Of course the steam engine was important, but more important was the network of railways and steamship lines that were built on it, spanning continents and finally the world, in turn producing the first global division of labour. Likewise, the internal combustion engine was a key invention, but what mattered was the vast apparatus of mass produced automobility that was erected on top of it and the phenomena that it then generated, ranging from suburbia to fast food. We need to ask: what are the industries, this time round, that will develop on top of the new infrastructure of the net and the web?

We can see some of them: tele-medicine and tele-health care, tele-education and telelearning, online information services, electronic publishing, financial services, trading and brokering, tele-shopping, entertainment of all kinds (film, video, theatre, music, multimedia pop, animation, virtual reality, games), electronic sports and competitions and virtual reality expressions, security and surveillance, earth resources information, environmental monitoring and control, digital imaging and photography, data mining and processing. Most share a characteristic, identified by Manuel Castells as central: what he calls «the application of … knowledge and information to knowledge generation and information processing/communication devices, in a cumulative feedback loop between innovation and the uses of innovation» (Castells, 1989, p. 32).

Education is perhaps the most obvious of these applications, but the one with the most profound social implications. During the coming decades it will be transformed beyond recognition through the injection of information technology to every stage of teaching and research. As MIT professor William Mitchell puts it: «If a latter-day Jefferson were to lay out an ideal educational community for the third millennium, she might site it in cyberspace» (MIitchell, 1995, p. 70). In the UK, Douglas Hague has predicted that first-rate remote lectures will replace second- or third-rate direct ones; multimedia presentations will allow students to pace their own learning. Teachers will thus find themselves performing new roles: as «guides» or tutors; as «communicator/interpreters» on TV; as «scholar/interpreters», turning research into teaching material, and as «assemblers», packaging this material into products; all working in teams, on the model set in the 1960s by the UK's Open University. Health care will be similarly transformed, forcing physicians and consultants and nurses to learn new roles.

One group of applications is in no doubt at all: in the media, where the digital-fibre optic revolution will generate virtually unlimited capacity to send moving images into a computerized box in the home, whether TV or PC: multi-channel digital television almost immediately, interactive broadcasting in the future. We can already see the revolution described by MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte in his book Being Digital: «broadcasting» is being replaced by «broadcatching», whereby everyone picks what they want from cables full of digital information (Negroponte, 1995). And this is just the start.

Where is all this happening? Significantly, some of the key locations for the new industries are the cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, London. That is because the development of new ideas demands serendipity and synergy between minds, and it is easier to find this in great cities. It is also because there is a special relationship between multimedia and other activities that have always been clustered in great cities: the media, including the live performing arts, advertising and public relations, and tourism.

As many civic leaders have found to their cost, cities, at least in the developed world, are no longer locations for mass production manufacturing: they are places for high-technology R&D and prototype production, for creative and cultural industries of all kinds, from theatres and museums to publishing and broadcasting, for tourism, for command and control functions in government and transnational corporations, and for specialized finance and business services. And in all these, creativity plays a crucial role: witness the innovations in the financial sector in the 1980s, such as securitization and corporate bonds, and the role they have played in hugely extending the total volume of business.

The need however - as with the other kinds of innovation - consists in trying to identify what kinds of urban innovation, what kinds of resulting city, will most effectively provide a physical and social environment in order to foster the kinds of creativity that will prove most significant in the new knowledge economy. I believe that we can answer this by looking at cities worldwide and asking what kinds of cities seem to be most effective at attracting talented and creative people to live and work in them.

It soon emerges that such cities are in fact quite varied in their past histories and their present potential. The first category is the established metropolis: leading older cities that have maintained their position as outstanding centres of both artistic production and consumption, like London, Paris or New York. They succeed simply because of their historic endowment of human and social capital. They have long been leading centres of consumption for theatre, music and the graphic arts. Partly because of this, they continue to attract creative people who live at the margins, as they always have. To this select group we can add a second category which we can call sunbelt cities: newer and emerging cities in new world locations like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Sydney, Auckland or Cape Town. These attract migrants because of their physical qualities - waterside location, mountains, climate - and resulting lifestyle. They are often major university cities and have strong local concentrations of cultural facilities. They are, in effect, commercial and cultural capitals for wide hinterlands around them. All this makes them attractive as alternative destinations for creative individuals who cannot, or will not, make the long migration to the older more established cities.

There is now a third category, the most interesting of all: the city undergoing urban renaissance. This is an older industrial or port city, usually the biggest city in its region, that has recently suffered from a decline of traditional manufacturing or port functions. Manchester, Glasgow, Barcelona, Bilbao and Baltimore are prime examples. All have regenerated themselves through intelligent investment in new cultural artefacts which in turn have helped generate urban tourism: museums, art galleries, concert halls, conference centres. In turn, since they are also strong university cities, they attract young people, some of whom remain after completing their education because they have put down roots and find the city an attractive place in which to live. They have often invested considerable amounts in improving their physical environment, especially in and around their city centres and in neighbouring waterfront areas, so that they can consciously compete in life quality and lifestyle with larger longer-established cultural cities. In consequence these are some of the most interesting cities in the world today, simply because they have been so successful in rapidly shedding their 19th-century industrial image and replacing it with a 21st-century cultural image.

All this indicates that traditional advantages and disadvantages are no longer fixed and unchanging: cities can literally remake and remarket themselves. Perhaps not every city can do this: to achieve the change, a city must have certain necessary prerequisites - a certain size and scale, a previous history of cultural achievement, a strong university infrastructure. But many cities worldwide are not perhaps achieving all that they are capable of achieving.

However, there is one final message, and in some ways I believe it is the most important of all. History shows that achieving true eminence as a city of culture is not something that can be achieved instantly, or even in a few years; it is a long process taking decades or even centuries. Of course, a city can open a new art gallery or concert hall and thus achieve instant fame as an attractive tourist centre. But that means the creation of a pure city of cultural consumption, which is not the same thing at all as building a truly creative city, a city of cultural production.

Maybe an initiative like that of Barcelona, which in the summer of 2004 held what it called a cultural Olympic Games - a five-month, 141-day series of seminars and cultural events, attracting over three million visitors directly and perhaps as many again indirectly - provides a possible model. But the question has to be what permanent legacy will remain. I don't of course mean physical legacy - there is a high-quality convention centre which will bring continuing year-long business tourism to Barcelona - but the deeper cultural legacy. The right strategy must be to build a physical infrastructure for cultural production, in the form of educational and training facilities at the same time as the centres for consumption, side by side, as they are now trying to do at Gateshead in Northern England with the new Baltic Centre for the visual arts and the nearby Sage Centre for music. But we should not expect that as a result Gateshead will turn itself immediately into a new Paris or a new Florence. It could take a long time and it might not happen at all. Patience will have to be the order of the day. But, meanwhile, places for consuming art can be pleasant places in which to live and work, and may even be the way to attract new life, and new work, of other kinds into the city. Cultural strategies can thus become just one part of a multi-pronged approach to urban regeneration. And, for many cities faced with the challenge of economic transformation, that will prove the most successful strategy.


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