Brandenburg

C2C presenting cases from small and medium sized cities at the final conference of the Urban Creative Poles project

C2C presenting cases from small and medium sized cities at the final conference of the Urban Creative Poles project

The Conference Venue

The Conference Venue

On November 7, the INTERREG project Urban Creative Poles held its final conference in the lead partner’s city of Cottbus, based in the region of Brandenburg for which we develop our creative industries toolkit. The organizers had chosen the fantastic, post-modern setting of the information, communication and media centre (IKMZ) of the Brandenburg Technical University of Cottbus.

The keynote from Prof. Joan Ganau from the University of Lleida in Spain highlighted some of the weaknesses of intermediate cities with respect to creative industries development:

  • less dynamism
  • lack of opportunities for qualified jobs
  • difficulties to attract and retain talents
  • no economies of agglomeration
  • bad international accessibility.

From his perspective, the strengths of intermediate cities lie in

  • housing prices
  • more possibility of social cohesion
  • richer “social capital”
  • no formal social relation networks (more dense and fluid)
  • quality of life and sustainability
  • place identity, ensue of community.

The second keynote speaker, Ralf Ebert (urban planner and CEO of Stadtart) made an attempt to answer the question why CCI can be important for medium-sized cities:

  • for the marketing of the city
  • job creation
  • necessary part of business oriented service industries
  • sector as part of the regional innovation system
  • locational factor for companies from other sectors and for households
  • spill-over effects on city development.

Tom Fleming from the British creative consultancy TFConsultancy gave an inspiring speech and stressed the necessity of talent development and the need to invest in experimentation, convergence and disruption. From a governance perspective, he called for joined-up approaches to creative industries development including culture, tourism, innovation and wider “creative” spill-over effects. His considerations also confirmed another observation we discussed a lot recently: the observation that the role of business support for the creative industries seems to change the overall rationale of business support in the sense that facilitation, moderation, building of local, national and international networks and the enabling of collaborative practices becomes central to supporting an industry and therefore fundamentally challenges the self-understanding of business support as it has been practiced before. This implies that the discourse about creative industries may not take the shape of a “dolphin” (in the sense that it is a nice topic that makes everyone smile and evokes good feelings) as Tom Fleming pictured and highlighted. Rather, it is discourse that calls for action and  that should not be separated from other societal and economic transformation processes.

Although the small and medium sized cities have not been the sole focus point of our project, we of course identified and looked at creative industries support schemes in these contexts. Therefore, we were invited by the organizers to present some findings from this part of our research. From Sweden, we explained how the region’s initiatives were initially triggered by support from the national level. We presented the cases from Skåne of the consulting project Selfmade, the creative industries development approach of KELA as part of a wider urban development strategy in Landskrona as well as the incubator Creative Plot in the university city of Lund.

IMG_20131107_104340From our research in Italy we showed how the audience development initiative of the cultural department of the city of Bolzano managed to not only increase cultural
participation within the city but also from among the surrounding villages. This example raised for us the question how the smart use of (guerilla) marketing methods could also integrate the local creative industries. In the close to the city of Milan located Vigevano, the business department builds on the work of Leonardo da Vinci to redevelop the castle in the heart of the city that has been empty for decades. The plan is to establish a permanent exhibition but also to attract creative entrepreneurs from the field of digital media through offering coworking spaces.

The challenges of the adoptation of a support scheme initially designed for a city as big as Bologna became obvious in the case IncrediBol! This programme is being extended to the province now where stakeholders are dissipated and the needs of the entrepreneurs and public administration seem to be different from the ones in Bologna. Finally, we presented which challenges the introduction of the typically very urban infrastructure and networking concept “The HUB” brings with it when established in a city as small as Rovereto. Here it seems that more communication efforts are necessary to gain acceptance by the local population compared to a more urban environment and to provide an understanding of the work and life situation of entrepreneurs.

An overview about the actions and results of the Urban Creative Poles project can be found here:
http://www.creativepoles.eu/ucp-documents

Second regional workshop: starting to assess needs and demands in Brandenburg

The second regional workshop took us to the 42.00 inhabitant town Oranienburg about half an hour north of Berlin. Our goal was to test how relevant our previous findings would be for those in local business or culture administrations in the districts of Brandenburg. Together with Katja Dietrich-Kröck, the creative industries coordinator in Brandenburg, we invited about 20 people who already were active in this field.

The meeting place seemed like a symbol for future creative industries development in Brandenburg: we met at Oranienwerk, an ensemble of buildings that had been used as a mill until 1989. The different parts of the building structure shall be developed into a location for cultural and creative industries. The building application has been handed in, they are just waiting to kick off.

In the course of the workshop we presented some of our findings from our trip to Skåne and Copenhagen. Although to some of the participants the examples seemed to be a bit “too urban”, some topics emerged as being relevant in Brandenburg as well:

1. Infrastructure/Work Space: while some argued that coworking was indeed only a topic for the more urban structures in Brandenburg like Potsdam, others stressed that due to the  increasing lack of low priced space in Berlin, alternatives in smaller cities that still could easily be reached by public transport opened up scope for action in Brandenburg. Allowing for experiments and not being distracted by manifold events and activities in the capital could indeed be a field of action for Brandenburg in supporting creative industries.

2. Mapping and Visibility: a huge deficit is that creative entrepreneurs and companies hence are not visible enough to decision makers. While oftentimes “facts, facts and only facts” count, the value of creative industries for local and regional development is still not well-known. The participants of our workshop discussed that it would be beneficial to have a template for quantitative and qualitative measurement that could easily be adopted by towns or districts.

3. Consulting and Coaching: While a systematic account of the existing consulting and coaching structure is lacking, our participants uttered doubts whether the existing structures really served the special needs of creative industries entrepreneurs. Wolfgang Flieger, project manager at our cooperation partner IBF (Institute for occupational area research and corporate planning in the media sector) gave our participants valuable insights into his experience with creative entrepreneurs within the “Innovations need Courage” program. While there are manifold institutions and consultancies in charge of consulting entrepreneurs in the stage of the formation of their business, coaching in an earlier as well as in a later phase is lacking. The IBF thus invented an early stage consulting approach when there is not yet a business plan that could be discussed. This kind of consulting seems to be especially relevant for CCI entrepreneurs, in Brandenburg typically coming from cultural projects backgrounds

4. Networking seems to be an everlasting demand when it comes to creative industries support. In Brandenburg, there have already been attempts to address this demand, e.g. for the design sector with the “Design Days Brandenburg“. Networking towards other industries, among CCI entrepreneurs of different disciplines and also on the administrative level is still underveloped.

From our point of view, our findings about CCI instruments in Skåne and Copenhagen triggered a discussion and an exchange of ideas in the region and helped identifying need and gaps in CCI support. The workshop served as a starting point for a more regular exchange. Moreover, C2C and its cooperation partner IBF can accompany some of the initiatives arising from the workshop during the next months, giving advice and providing tailored consulting.

 

Further information

Portraits of CCI entrepreneurs inBrandenburg (in German)
Portraits of CCI entrepreneurs using early stage consulting (in German)