Revitalization

Is Culture the New Infrastructure?

By Ben Bull
Published June 04, 2007

Christopher Hume recalls our old friend Richard Florida in a couple of his Arts and Culture pieces from this weekend's Toronto Star (see here and here).

Assessing the flurry of cultural activity taking place in TO, Hume suggests that a city's

new monuments aren't city halls, train stations or office towers - for the most part, those days are over. Cities must now be 'creative,' they must appeal to the mythical young knowledge workers who, Richard Florida famously told us, hold in their hands the key to civic success.

Hume also re-states the position of many of Creative Class advocates that culture "is the new infrastructure, the civic bedrock on which the most successful modern metropolises are built."

At the heart of Hume's mini-thesis is the idea that "Culture is to the contemporary city what roads, sewers and bridges were in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

That's an interesting perspective, one which should be of particular interest to Hamilton's civic leaders, who are still 'stuck in the 1950s' as the common complaint tends to go.

Whatever your opinion, there can be little doubt that 21st century leisure time is a highly marketable commodity, and those cities that grasp the opportunity to give their residents "something to do" will always prosper.

Related:

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 05, 2007 at 09:39:33

perhaps culture is becoming the 'new' infrastructure in Canada. It's been that way for decades, even centuries in the worlds oldest societies. In North America we used to value culture, but shifted to a society defined by factories, shopping and various other 'things'. It would be a refreshing change to see our population return to a more cultural, fun existence instead of always having to fly to Paris or Rome to enjoy these things.

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By msoder (anonymous) | Posted June 06, 2007 at 09:57:08

Last weekend was the Writers' Union of Canada's annual general meeting at which time much was said about the importance of culture to economies today and about the lack of recognition of this fact by Canada's current federal leaders.

Did you know that the cultural industries (broadly defined) contribute more to the country's economy than the mining and agricultural sectors conbined? Creating a good environment for culture means a stronger, better country all around.

That environment, by the way, doesn't necessarily mean only big arts' centres. Support for festivals and individual creators is just as important.

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