FROM CREATIVE CITIES TO CREATIVE TERRITORIES: LOMBARDY’S CULTURAL DISTRICT PROGRAM

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Both professional and academic debates in cultural planning acknowledge the challenge of creative place governance. The question is recurrent in literature: what policies and policy instruments can stimulate the cultural ecology of creative places by
  ! he idea of creative city/ ! he urban policy debate | Cracow 17 - 18 October 2013 Proceedings 119 FROM CREATIVE CITIES TO CREATIVE TERRITORIES: LOMBARDY’S CULTURAL DISTRICT PROGRAM    Silvia Gugu,  Elena G. Mussinelli, Andrea Tartaglia  Milan Polytechnic, Department of Architecture, Built environment and Construction engineering, Italy Abstract   Both professional and academic debates in cultural planning acknowledge the challenge of creative place governance. The question is recurrent in literature: what policies and policy instruments can stimulate the cultural ecology of creative places by fostering collaborations and integrating creative activities and local development? This research aims to contribute to the debate by exploring how funding, evaluation, and technical assistance shaped collaborative governance in a Cultural District program in Lombardy, Italy. The findings discuss the challenges of fostering horizontal connections among local networks, the importance of leadership in navigating the transition from hierarchical to more collaborative forms of governance, and how unequal participation in decision making leads to significant differences in actor commitment. Keywords: cultural governance, collaborative governance, cultural districts, creative place-making Introduction  Recent decades have witnessed a global surge of political interest in the role of creativity in local and regional development (UNESCO, 2006; UNCTAD, 2010; Council of The European Union, 2007; European Commission, 2010). An increasing number of cities and regions have  been focusing on ‘creative city’, ‘creative region’, and, more recently, ‘creative rural place’ approaches in their economic development strategies as part of this global trend (Evans, 2009; Grodach, 2013). To foster and maintain the “broad ecosystem which nurtures and supports creativity” (Florida, 2002, p. xxi-xxii), policy needs to work across both the subsidized and commercial sectors, encouraging partnerships and collaborative alliances (BOP, 2006; European Commission, 2010). In following this guideline, policy-makers have been looking for answers about what partnerships need to be put in place to better integrate cultural and creative industries into strategic regional/local development in Europe (European Commission, 2010, p. 14). We elaborate on this question narrowing it to the role of cultural governance, a less researched aspect of creative place literature. More precisely, we ask what policy instruments can stimulate cross-sector partnerships and collaboration in creative place-making. To respond to this question, this paper explores how a regional Cultural District (CD) initiative in Lombardy, Italy has shaped collaboration in the governance of local cultural-creative networks. Italian regions and provinces have been promoting CDs to foster collaboration, streamline cultural spending, and encourage creative entrepreneurship (Sacco et al., 2007; 2008; Barbetta  ! he idea of creative city/ ! he urban policy debate | Cracow 17 - 18 October 2013 Proceedings 120 et al., 2013). CDs are defined as “  geographically clustered networks of interdependent entities defined by the production of idiosyncratic goods based on creativity and intellectual  property ” (Santagata, 2002, p. 11). While they can develop spontaneously, CDs are often supported by policy initiatives taking the form of “territorial cooperation”, initiated by the State, which bring together local policy networks and cultural institutions (Hinna & Seddio, 2013, p. 46). The emergence of CD policies in Italy reflects a newly developed interest in the role of culture in economic and social development and an on-going process of administrative decentralization (e.g.: Santagata 2009; Casoni & Fanzini, 2011; Bolici et al, 2012; Zan et al., 2007). Traditionally concerned with the conservation of heritage and the arts (Bodo, 2012; Belfiore, 2004), Italy’s cultural policy apparatus has started to officially consider the economic and social valorization of culture as of 2004 (Legislative Decree 42/ Jan 22 2004). In addition, CDs were conceived in many regions as alternative cultural governance solutions that enabled inter-municipal and public-private cooperation to confront administrative decentralization and privatization of cultural infrastructure (Zan et al., 2007; Ponzini, 2010; Le Blanc, 2010). The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, we draw on Ansell & Gash’s (2008) collaborative governance dimensions to assess to what extent Lombardy’s CD program managed to implement a collaborative governance process in Cremona Province, one of the areas participating in the program. The Cultural District of the Province of Cremona fits the definitions of collaborative governance provided by Ansell & Gash (2008) since (1) it is initiated by public institutions (Province of Cremona); (2) it is focused on the public management of cultural activity in the province; (3) it includes state and non-state actors from the private and non-profit sector and (4) the participants are engaged in decision making. The framework allows us to contribute an understanding of how the micro-dynamics of collaborative governance of creative places work. Second, we examine the relationship  between program instruments (financial incentives, transparency rules, and technical assistance) and the dimensions of the collaborative governance process. The paper is organized in five sections. The first traces the evolution of cultural governance towards collaborative forms and explains the conceptual framework of Ansell & Gash (2008) for collaborative governance. The second contains the methodology. The third describes the context and features of our case study, the CD program in Lombardy. We  present the program’s process instruments, and describe one of the cultural districts implemented in Cremona Province. The findings compare the results of the program in Cremona against the collaborative governance framework (Ansell & Gash, 2008) as an ideal type. This allows us to assess how the program results differ or match the ‘ideal’ process of collaborative governance. Finally, the conclusions discuss the implications of the findings for collaborative governance theory and the policy instruments that stimulate partnerships and collaboration. Cultural governance as collaborative governance During recent decades there has been a notable shift “from the government of culture to the governance of culture, […] characterized by a tendency towards an enhanced collaboration  between public authorities […] and private actors” ( I opi 5  & Srakar, 2012, p. 6). The emergence of collaborative forms of cultural governance can be traced to two major types of changes in the context and content of cultural policy. First, the withdrawal of the state from the day-to-day management of cultural organizations, either motivated by effectiveness and efficiency within a market logic or by the arm’s-length principle aimed at protecting artistic integrity from political preferences (Mangset, 2009; Madden, 2009; Zan et al., 2007), has led to the decentralization of decision making. In turn, this fragmentation has created a premise for partnerships and collaborations across organizational and sector boundaries, in order to  pool resources or reduce transaction costs (Stevenson et al., 2010). Second, the enlarging  ! he idea of creative city/ ! he urban policy debate | Cracow 17 - 18 October 2013 Proceedings 121 scope of cultural policy content to encompass economic and social goals has brought new stakeholders in the decision making process. Partners from the cultural and creative industries, intellectuals, academia, NGOs and different professional associations operating in the arts and culture sector can now make stronger policy contributions (Paquette, 2008; Pratt, 2012; Andres & Chapain, 2013). The audience and the civil society also expect, and are expected, to have a role in legitimizing and shaping policy choices (Holden 2006). However, many of these innovative governance arrangements are initiated by practitioners and seldom analyzed by scholars ( I opi 5  & Srakar, 2012). Moreover, the very notion of cultural governance “is still a concept that defies a precise definition and is not recognized as a distinguished research topic” ( I opi 5  & Srakar, 2012, p. 9). Schmitt (2011) also notes that the existing definitions of cultural governance fail to reflect the multiple layers and complexity the concept of culture has come to assume. Empirical studies addressing cultural governance show that collaboration can overcome fragmentation, hence enhancing legitimacy of the sector in relationship with the civil society and higher tier policy makers; and it can mobilize power and resources, leading to more stable funding and increased visibility (Moon, 2001; Redaelli, 2011). The performance of collaborative cultural governance relies on strategic coalitions between cultural stakeholders, healthy city-county partnerships, and stable funding mechanisms (Moon, 2001; Stevenson et al., 2010). The inclusiveness of these  partnerships can depend on policy goals; an ‘economic-driven’ approach, focused on creative industries, can bring more stakeholders to the table; while a more traditional, “culture-oriented” approach may be more restrictive and lead to a more passive reception, but to higher social cohesion (Andres & Chapain, 2013; Yue, 2006). These relationships deliver useful insights into the specifics of collaborative cultural governance; however they do not provide a comprehensive theoretical background for our analysis. For our study therefore we turn to public administration literature, drawing on the collaborative governance framework articulated by Ansell & Gash (2008). This framework was intentionally designed to be general and over-encompassing of collaborative governance in any sector and at any level, which makes it suitable for testing empirical phenomena in the cultural field. Ansell & Gash (2008, p.2) defined collaborative governance as “a governing arrangement where one or more public agencies directly engage non-state stakeholders in a collective decision-making process that is formal, consensus oriented, and deliberative and that aims to make or implement public policy or manage public programs or assets”. Based on a meta-analysis of 137 cases in literature, they were able to elicit a general contingency framework for analyzing collaborative governance. The authors grouped contingency factors in three main categories. Starting conditions describe the circumstances in which new policy initiatives are implemented, examining power and/or resource imbalance between stakeholders, their incentives to participate in such initiative and any prehistory of antagonism or cooperation between them. Facilitative leadership can help mitigate negative starting conditions by building trust to overcome preexisting antagonism, emphasizing interdependencies, and facilitating dialogue. Another crucial set of factors regards institutional design, which should be inclusive of all stakeholders who are affected by the issue, ensure process transparency, establish clear ground rules and ensure the mission of the group is not overlapping other forums.  ! he idea of creative city/ ! he urban policy debate | Cracow 17 - 18 October 2013 Proceedings 122 Figure 1 . The conceptual framework of collaborative governance Source :  Reprinted from Ansell & Gash (2008, p.550). At the centre is the collaborative process itself, described by the authors as “a virtuous cycle’ among the following variables: face-to-face dialogue; trust building; commitment, shared understanding, and intermediate outcomes (Ansell & Gash 2008, p. 558–561). The key dimension in this cycle is the commitment to process, or shared ownership of the process: “even when collaborative governance is mandated, achieving ‘‘buy in’’ is still an essential aspect of the collaborative process” (Ibid., p.560). Similarly, intermediate outcomes are essential in building trust when prior antagonism among parties is high. This conceptual model represents a good starting point for an empirical analysis of collaborative cultural governance (Andres & Chapain, 2013). In this study, we rely on it as an “ideal type” (Dewey, 1938; Kaplan, 1964) to understand if and how the instruments employed  by Lombardy’s CD program stimulated collaborative processes in the Cultural District of the Cremona Province. Methodology The distinctive feature of collaborative forms of governance consists in the collective decision making process rather than centralized command or competition (Ansell & Gash, 2008), which implies that they cannot be measured based on cost-effectiveness or operational effectiveness criteria like hierarchies and markets are evaluated (Jessop 2002, 236) The main reasons are that the output of collaborative governance often includes intangible results that are difficult to quantify; and the definition of policy goals is subject to ongoing negotiations, mutual learning and shifting power relations among the network actors, leading to unclear and competing goals (Sørensen and Torfing, 2009). A frequently chosen solution to the problem of assessing collaborative governance arrangements is to seek to understand the conditions under which stakeholders acted collaboratively. In other words, most studies in the collaborative governance literature  ! he idea of creative city/ ! he urban policy debate | Cracow 17 - 18 October 2013 Proceedings 123 evaluate ‘process outcomes’ rather than policy or management outcomes” (Ansell & Gash 2008, p. 549). To investigate how Lombardy’s CD program tools stimulate collaborative governance in Cultural Districts, we follow a similar approach. We use the conceptual framework elicited by Ansell & Gash (2008) as an ideal type (Dewey, 1938; Kaplan, 1964) to understand if and to what extent collaborative governance dimensions and relations were fostered by Lombardy’s CD Program in Cremona Province. Based on the research questions, a qualitative research design was chosen, built on a case study approach (Yin, 2003). The case in question is Lombardy’s CD Program and the unit of analysis is one of the CDs implemented with the help of the program: CREARTE, in Cremona Province. We chose CREARTE from among the 6 CDs implemented by the  program because it is headed by the Province, which traditionally occupies a hierarchically superior position in relationship with the rest of the actors involved. One of the well-known obstacles to collaborative governance is the resistance of higher-tier governments to share  power with local communities (Hajer and Wagenaar, 2003), and we wanted to understand if the program instruments had a role in overcoming this obstacle. The data were gathered in 2012 and 2013 from several data sources: qualitative data from semi-structured interviews, publicly available data from Web sites, press materials,  publications, and documentation provided by informants. Additional observational data – about 10 hours - was collected during three monitoring and evaluation meetings that reunited representatives of the Cariplo Foundation, evaluators, and CD representatives. We conducted a total of 23 interviews: 18 with informants in the Cremona Cultural District, and 5 interviews with Lombardy’s CD program initiators, evaluators, and their consultants. Informants included public officers, cultural operators, academics and business men. The interviews lasted between 20 and 120 minutes and resulted in 203 transcribed pages of primary source material. We mitigated informant bias by cross checking information and  by gathering several hundred pages of secondary and observation data about the CD to triangulate the interview data. Lombardy’s Cultural District Program: process and instruments The initiative ‘Cultural Districts – Drivers of Economic Development for the Territory’ was undertaken in 2005 by the Cariplo Foundation, a major banking foundation in Lombardy. The  program targeted the non-metropolitan areas of the Lombardy Region, providing support for the start-up of Cultural Districts, intended as collaborative governance networks with a long-term, culture-led revitalization strategy for a specific sub-regional area. The program did not encourage a particular form of organization for the CDs, but required the inclusion of relevant cultural actors, economic players, educational institutions and local administrations in their governance arrangements. The goal was to 1) incentivize long-term visions; 2) promote better communication among the actors in the cultural sector; 3) support the dialog among the cultural, administrative and productive systems; 4) reinforce quality-oriented decisional  processes 5) plan the sustainability of cultural initiatives (Fondazione Cariplo, 2011).
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