Large cities vs Smaller towns

Tom Fleming

London of course is a huge city and sometimes the creative industries agenda is being hijacked by bigger cities, but actually it is in the smaller cities that they can play a more transformational impact. For example Guimarães in northern Portugal is a very small city, but where the creative industries actually have the room to breath, the room to express themselves. The sector is much more visible there in someways than it is in a bigger city. Also it has a potential to play a great value-generating role when working with other sectors. In London it works very much in a classic industrial model, providing services to itself and other major parts of the economy. In a smaller city, it can play a really visible role, for example in temps revitalising the city, or in temps of solving some social problems. The creative sector is all about talent and creativity. In disenfranchised communities, it can give them oportunities to express themselves, to gain confidence and to feel included. 

There are some good examples in northern Europe where smaller cities have developed a strong creative industries sector. They haven’t tried to copy London or Paris or Berlin, they just developed their own distinctive approach. For example Tilburg in Holland which had a dynamic music scene developed a whole music cluster there. In Scandinavia, they have the concept of creative education. Many people in the arts and the creative industries sector work as service providors to the education sector. They work with teachers in the schools to so that students acquire a wider set of life- and creative- skills. The students who are engaged with the creative practitioners are much more open, more able to solve problems, more able to work across disciplines. It is about identifying the growth areas, the things that the small city already has and then building them up to play a major role in he city, rather than just copying something from somewhere else.

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Tom Fleming

Tom Fleming

Director of Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy in East London, United Kingdom

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