Hanka Otte – City Policy and Sustainable Creativity

Large cities nowadays are challenged in their cultural policy by many oppositional developments. The field of art policy has changed immensely ever since the arts, as part of the welcomed and embraced creative industry, have been approached from an economic perspective. Although this perspective was, and by some still is, believed as the solution for the art sector to survive without in the end being dependent of the government, the autonomy of the artist, his practice and the intrinsic value of the arts for the city (which is a social one), are at stake. According to Gielen (2016) the balance between four domains, needed for artists to be able to creatively contribute to city life in a sustainable way, has been disturbed. On the one hand, the institutions that (used to) protect the domains in which artists are able to artistically develop themselves and their practice (domestic and peers), and the domain in which artists can make their work public (civil), have changed heavily by the tendencies of globalization. The only domain that gained from these tendencies, seems to be that of the market, slowly intruding a market logic into the other domains.

In this study, it will be investigated how city policies deal with this unbalance and to what extent they are able to recover the balance by either finding solutions for the problems within every domain or trying to find alternatives in which such a balance can be received. First, the current cultural policies of the European cities of Amsterdam, Antwerp, Berlin and London will be assessed and compared by a discourse analysis of policy documents and a screening of government spending in financial documents of the city council and subsidized cultural institutions. The main question to be answered here is to what extent the city policies support the creative biotope. Can the four domains be recognized in these policies and how do the efforts made for each domain relate to each other? Based on the gathered information, a couple of art organizations will be selected to investigate further the problems they experience in each domain by doing in-depth interviews. The outcome of these interviews will be compared to that of interviews with non-subsidized organizations in the creative industry to explore whether the creative biotope should be amended or supplemented with regard to city policy.

The research of CCQO builds on the thought of Negri and Hardt (2009) that sustainable creativity needs a shared and freely accessible communality, referred to as the commons. It will be assessed if and how alternative artistic initiatives in each city try to build up their practice based on such a common. By interviewing these (non-subsidized) initiatives, it will be investigated how they manage (or not) to find the right balance in order to be able to respond to the cities appeal to their creativity. How do they relate to the city council and vice versa? What do they need from the city, other than financial means? And how can the city provide these needs?
The final aim of the study will then be to develop, via a comparative research approach, a new ideal-typical model (or models) for cultural policy in cities.