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Mapping Vilnius as creative city/Vilniaus kaip kurybinio miesto zemelapio konturai.


City life has an effect on production and consumption of culture and defines where culture can take place. Urban culture has two levels of meaning: one level of urban culture is how the city has impacted on its citizens, businesses, social organizations, spatial organization, and artistic production. Culture is what we call "material culture". But there is another kind of culture that a city can impact--that is "non-material culture". All of the ideas, songs, poetry, religious thoughts, art norms, and everyday ways of life--culture in the broadest sense--in a society are non-material culture. Second level of urban culture is how the citizens, businesses, social organizations, spatial organization, and art affect the city.

Cities allow for contact with people from different cultural and kinship groups, and some theorists believe that this process of contact with different groups has increased inhabitants' creativity and advanced city's culture. The relationship of people within the city is shaped by the places they live, the schools they attend, the business they work in, and the communities they identify with in the city. This relationship will form the basis of urban culture production and will mark the differences between urban culture production and other forms of culture production. Urban culture needs the groups, services, and businesses of the city to function. Urban culture is influenced by the city that it is made in, to the point of distinction from other cities, i.e. Vilnius' street art is different from Klaipeda's street art.

The professional arts (or "high culture") become part of the unique urban culture of that city. Culture that gains an urban distinction might be exemplified by the paintings, music, theatre and other works of classic or experimental artists in special city district and personas that could only be a part of the underground city artist culture.

Creative cities use their creative potential in various ways: some function as nodes for generating cultural experiences for inhabitants and visitors through the presentation of their cultural heritage assets or through their cultural activities in the performing and visual arts; some use festivals that shape the identity of the whole city; others look for broader cultural and media industries to provide employment and incomes and to act as centres for urban and regional growth. In other cases, a more pervasive role of culture in the creative city rests on the capacity of the arts and culture to foster urban liveability, social cohesion and cultural identity.

According to creative economy point of view, at the core of the creative city vision, there are three main domains: the arts and cultural heritage, the media and entertainment industries, and the creative business-to-business services. The latter sphere is perhaps the most important since it can add value to every product or service. Design, advertising and entertainment in particular act as drivers of innovation in the broader economy and shape the so-called "experience economy".

The aim of article is to outline creative city features of Vilnius applying ideas of creative cities theories, creative economy insights, data from Vilnius creative industries research findings and city creative industries mapping. The Vilnius creative industries mapping was done in the summer of 2009 by author of this article with colleagues from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.

What is the "creative city"?

The idea of the "creative city" emerged in the late 1980s. It was a response to the fact that cities were restructured. When the "creative city" notion was introduced in the early 1990s, the philosophy was that there is always more potential in any place than any of us would think at first sight, even though very few cities, perhaps London, Tokyo, New York or Amsterdam, are comprehensively creative. It posits that conditions need to be created for people to think, plan and act with imagination in using opportunities ranging from addressing homelessness to creating wealth or getting artists to unsettle conventional attitudes. The concept is that ordinary people can make the extraordinary things happen and that if everyone were just a little bit more imaginative about what they did, the impact would be dramatic.

The next step toward the emergence of the concept of a "creative city" was when the idea of a creative economy was applied to the economy of cities. This term points to an urban complex where cultural activities of various sorts are an integral part of the city's economic and social functioning. Such cities tend to be built upon a strong social and cultural infrastructure, to have relatively high concentrations of creative employment, and to be attractive to inward investment because of their well-established cultural facilities. Using this concept, culture is both an economic sector embedded in diverse growth industries that can contribute to increased employment and area regeneration, and a resource crucial to the re-imaging of cities and regions as places for tourists, investment and mobile skilled labour. Creative cities are usually thought of in terms that combine the cultural economy and the creative industries even though they usually occupy different "camps". Recently, the awareness of the vitality of territorialized production complexes based on cultural activities has increased significantly, as these activities have become recognized as crucial in the promotion of urban renewal and cities competitiveness. Interest in "creative cities" makes particularly clear the relation between urban territory and creativity-led sustainable development dynamics, distinguishing the specific conditions, in terms of dimension and agglomeration effects, which seem to be necessary to expand creative processes, both in the production and consumption of cultural products. Cities have made significant investment in their cultural infrastructure and creative economies in the last two decades. Culture has been used as a means of urban regeneration. The approach of developing and investing in creative economies has developed a new type of competition between cities. The attention of economic strategies and policy interventions has been focused on the specific assets and infrastructures that a city should have in order to be or to become creative.

Departing from the notion of "creative cities", a discussion on this subject deals with and relates to other approaches which have been suggested to improve the knowledge on the relationship between territorial agglomeration, cultural activities and their governance mechanisms (like cultural districts and clusters, territorial agglomerations and innovation, or culture-led local development strategies).

Creative city notion is not easy to identify as a common conceptual ground to cover all the diversity of interpretations and practices that are subjacent to it. Actually, as Anders Lund Hansen, Hans Thor Andersen and Eric Clark (Lund Hansen et al. 2001: 852) put it, the concept of creative city can be seen as the newest place-marketing product, employed in the struggle between cities to attract investors and to promote competitiveness. It is thus, due to its generalized use that, for some authors, the "creative city" idea ends lost its consistency and becomes a mere brand and less an "attitude".

In order to summarize the multiple different approaches over the "creative city" concept, which has developed, in the policy-making field and in analysis that is more academic, Pedro Costa suggested a typology, identifying three basic axes, which support each conceptual construction:

1. first, centring creative city notion on the idea of creativity as a toolkit for urban development;

2. second, basing the notion of creative city in the utilization of creative activities/ industries (broadening the cultural activities perspectives); and finally

3. third framework, which supports the concept of creative city in the capacity to attract creative competences, that is, creative humans (Cooke, Lazzeretti 2007: 193).

The first set of contributors, in which the creative city concept is used in a broad perspective of planning, has been used in Charles Landry's (Landry 2000) book entitled The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators and in Landry's with Franco Bianchini (Landry, Bianchini 1995) book The Creative City. Their work was linked to new repositioning of cultural industries and cultural regeneration in urban development in UK in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They present "creativity" in its broadest sense, considering how thinking outside the box can help cities solve their everyday problems in innovative ways. Any lack of creativity needs to be solved in a multidisciplinary way: all creativity--be it scientific or artistic--can make a difference to cities. Among the examples, many present the interaction between artists or art organisations and places or communities. Creative cities are those ones able to find new solutions to quotidian problems. The search for interventions that can instigate a creative "environment", in a wide sense, is the focus of that framework and it goes far beyond the cultural activities, though clearly embed in cities' local culture and identity. For instance, imaginative solutions for the local educational system or for transportation can be included in this "creative city" perspective. Generating a creative milieu, discovering and keeping creative processes for urban management is the key for success, in a perspective centred on creativity as a toolkit for planning and innovating in the cities. In these examples a vision of culture as an engine to support a cities' image and economic future is also portrayed. Their work coincided with a new interpretation of role of culture within the European Capital of Culture initiative, specifically after the title was awarded to Glasgow in 1991.

A second set of contributors centres on cultural products. For theorists as Andy C. Pratt (Pratt 2004) and institutions as the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) "creative cities" are framed as the ones that are related to certain dynamism in the creative productive sector (Creative Industries Mapping Document 1998). This is eventually the most widespread notion of "creative city", intimately linked to the "creative industries" concept. In this case, the production of cultural goods, services and related activities are the centres of creativity. The acceptance of the term "creative industries" and the DCMS definition implied a new focus on the production of cultural/creative products, the infrastructure behind them and the creative worker. Therefore, a new interpretation of the creative city emerges as the city where work and production of creative industries is concentrated and supported (Montgomery 2005). There are elements of consumption here, when the creative industries and their cultural scenes are able to shape the image of a city and attract visitors, but these are only peripheral to the production perspective.

Finally, another important framework, which supports the "creative city" rhetoric, is related to the capacity of attracting creative skills and developing inventive competences. Richard Florida's (Florida 2002) work, suggestively entitled "The rise of the creative class", has marked this approach, branding this "creative class" label in reference to the top qualified and innovative human resources that are basing the competitiveness and vitality of most dynamic contemporary urban areas. Effectively, the capacity for a city to be creative and innovative is definitely related to the ability to train, to keep and to attract this new social "class" that have domains of the knowledge and have the skills required of the advanced creativity-intensive sectors which most create value and further promote competitiveness in contemporary economies. Florida's theory suggests that the economic success of a city is determined by the presence (and attraction) of the "creative class", of which creative industries workers are only a small proportion. In order to appeal to this group, cities should foster a cultural climate able to promote diversity, investing in structures devoted to culture and entertainment. Many American and European cities have seen in Florida's (Florida 2002) theories a ready to use methodology and a guide for local economic development. However, his theory has been criticized on different fronts; for many authors adopting Florida's hypothesis as a reliable methodology for the development of future urban growth is considered a scientific overstatement. Limits of the theory can be identified from the following:

From an economic perspective. In reference to traditional measure of development, the correlations found in the research have not proven to have a precise connection of causality with economic development (Malanga 2004).

From a policy and political perspective. Florida has secured himself consultancy contracts and space in the building of a "fast urban policy" for creative cities worldwide: "so packaged, creativity strategies were in a sense pre-constituted for this fast policy market" (Peck 2005: 767).

From a social perspective. Some authors highlight how many local policy makers, including Florida himself, tend to mistake tolerance--an open-minded approach towards diversity--with the simple presence of cultural diversity. Additionally, it is significant that Florida forgets to include in his indexes certain critical social factors --such as age, differences in income, racial segregation, etc. (Donald et al. 2003).

The three visions described above are helpful, but this is not what the "creative city" is exclusively concerned with. The "creative city" notion is broader than that of the "creative economy" and "creative class". It sees the city is an integrated system of multiple organizations and an amalgam of cultures in the public, private and community sectors. It claims that in a period of dramatic change, the disparate bodies in a city each need to become more inventive and work together to address the challenges; otherwise, they will go backwards.

In the "creative city", it is not only artists and those involved in the creative economies that are creative. Creativity can come from anyone who addresses issues in an inventive way, be it a social worker, a businessperson, an engineer, a scientist or a public servant. In the urban context, combined teams generate the most interesting ideas and projects. This implies that the "creative city" is a place that is imaginatively comprehensive. It has a creative bureaucracy, creative individuals, organizations, schools, universities and much more. By encouraging creativity and legitimizing the use of imagination within the public, private and community spheres, the idea bank of possibilities and potential solutions to any urban problem will be broadened (Weiping 2005).

The "creative city" requires infrastructures beyond the hardware--buildings, roads or sewage. Creative infrastructure is a combination of the hard and the soft, including, too, the mental infrastructure, the way a city approaches opportunities and problems, the atmosphere and the enabling devices that it fosters through its incentives and regulatory structures. The soft infrastructure needs to include: a highly skilled and flexible labour force, dynamic thinkers, creators and implementers; being able to give space for maverick personalities; strong communication linkages internally and with the external world; and an overall culture of entrepreneurship whether this is applied to social or economic ends. This establishes a creative rub as the imaginative city stands on the cusp of a dynamic and tense equilibrium (Creative Economy Report ... 2008).

Being creative as an individual or organization is relatively easy, yet to be creative as a city is a different proposition, given the amalgam of cultures and interests involved. This usually implies taking measured risks, widespread leadership, a sense of going somewhere, being determined but not deterministic and, crucially, being strategically principled and tactically flexible. To maximize this requires a change in the mindset, perception, ambition and will, and an understanding of the city's networking capacity and its cultural depth and richness. This transformation has a strong impact on organizational culture. It requires thousands of changes in the mindset, creating the conditions for people to become agents of change rather than victims of change, seeing transformation as a long-lived experience, not a one-off event. It requires bureaucracies that they themselves are creative. The built environment--the stage, the setting, the container--is crucial for establishing a milieu. Essentially, the city is seen as a complex adaptive system where a more holistic approach creates "systemic creativity" and where creativity is leveraged in the entire community. This milieu creates the mood of the city, the atmosphere and its culture.

The mapping findings of Vilnius city creative industries (1)

The main purpose of Vilnius creative industries mapping was to identify the economic potential of the creative industries companies--to analyse the concentration of creative industries companies and their employees, the capacity of firms clustering, comparing ratio of exports and imports, assessment of financial turnover, analysis of financial resources, and to conduct a survey of creative industries companies, in order to assess the main barriers of the whole work.

As a methodology for creative industries economic data gathering, Creative Economy Report (Creative Economy Report ... 2008) was chosen, which is based on a broader concept of creativity--that is any economic activity, producing symbolic products which are protected by intellectual property and adapted to the broadest market. Concept allocated upstream activities (traditional cultural activities and arts) and down-stream activities--closer to the market, advertisement, publishing, etc. This methodology was chosen as most useful for assessing the economic potential of the city's creative industries.

Creative industries categories and groups fall into the rank which is based on traditional knowledge and cultural heritage (arts, crafts and cultural festivals)--to audiovisual and new media. Classifications divide creative industries into four broad categories: Heritage, Arts, Media and Functional creations. These categories are still divided into nine groups: cultural places, crafts, traditional cultural expressions, visual arts, performing arts, books, press, audio-visual media, new media, design, creative services (architecture, advertising, creative R&D, recreation, tourism, creative digital services).

The reason for such a classification is that the majority of countries and institutions include a variety of industries into "creative industries" definition, but only a few attempt to classify these industries into categories, groups and subgroups. Such classification facilitates inter-sectorial interactions understanding and gives a wider view of industry.

Examination of the performance of the creative industries groups and companies under the UNCTAD Creative Economy Report 2008 classification revealed, that in the year 2009 Vilnius companies of functional creation activities category earned most income, hired most employees and had the most widespread businesses. This category's companies also have the highest income per employee.

Next finding of Vilnius creative industries mapping was about creative industries companies clustering. The concept of business cluster emphasizes the importance of location and inter-firm linkages or networks to productivity, seen as being particularly important in the context of cities. Clustering is thought to lead to a number of advantages for both firms and the regions in which they operate, including increased competitiveness, higher productivity, new firm formation, growth, profitability, job growth and innovation. As a result policy makers around the globe have supported clusters as an economic development strategy. Creative clusters are therefore a favoured concept and means of working with the creative industries, and creative cluster development is now central to the economic strategies of regional development agencies in many regions of the world. Michael E. Porter (Porter 1998) writes that places where creative clusters and networks are found are gaining competitive success. The "cluster" concept is realized through the rejuvenation of old industrial quarters in cities. Existing features such as manufacturing infrastructure (warehouses) and past-time music collections become new inputs (loft spaces, fashion and design skills, music archives) for the redevelopment of industry through culture (Leadbeater, Oakley 1999: 37).

Vilnius creative industries companies clustering analysis was carried out by two ways:

1. economic--the cluster of actually interacting individuals, companies, directly or indirectly using cooperation network for better economic results;

2. creative industries (suggested by UNESCO): the company, group, institution, whose main activity is to work in one of the creative industries groups, which combines the non-profit organizations, cultural facilities, art workshops and individuals for local/site specific needs.

Creative clusters can form as special urban territories, in which the creative industries companies are concentrated as cultural city districts, creating the local identity. Improving the identity and image of the area is an important creative cluster development in the city, associated with the enhancement of creative industries in certain parts of the city. Such cultural districts activities have the character of spatial agglomeration, not only a creative atmosphere.

Case analysis method was used to examine the identity of Vilnius cultural districts and the applying of creative industries to build a distinctiveness of an area. Vilnius city can be distinguished by historical Old Town in city's centre, which is arts and cultural heritage, cultural institutions concentration area and it attracts the largest tourist groups. In this cultural district the most important arts organizations of Lithuanian state concentrate--the theatres, public concerts institutions, and museums, centres of culture and arts, private art galleries, libraries. Other cultural districts--Uzupis and Loft in Naujamiestis and Pilaite districts are still creating their identity and image--so it is too early to speak about tourist flows there. Both districts use artistic-creative resources from the city to form their identity and present themselves in a similar way. They could become centres of clusters, although Uzupis and Loft districts lack the distinction of cultural activities, broader coalitions with other creative industries companies, and with local businesses. Social cooperation with Lithuanian industrial producers and traditional crafts would strengthen both clusters in economic and social aspects, as well as the ability to create synergies in preparation to fairs, festivals, etc.

Examples of successful economic clustering of creative industries companies in Vilnius have not been found, except for a result of attempts to develop the "Sauletekio studija"--cinema producers' cluster--in Antakalnis. Typically the economic cluster of businesses and educational institutions build networks, searching for better economic results.

Vilnius city creative industries enterprises survey showed that they do not tend to clustering because of the lack of confidence in the partners; non-specialization and under-differentiated products production; competition for small local market; lack of lobbying organizations. Vilnius creative industries companies and organizations' weak clustering is due to the lack of strong leadership and coordination centre in this field. There are a lot of different creative industries activities, projects, events in the city, urban districts and buildings revitalization initiatives, but many of them are pretty chaotic, overlapping and do not have too much impact on the city's social economic life, but they create a so-called "creative atmosphere" (milieu) or the "creative class" effect, which may itself already be a suitable environment to create social and economic projects of greater value in the city.


1. Creative industries mapping in Vilnius reveal city as having many elements of creative city. Vilnius city creative industries sector is particularly developed and dynamic. Despite positive dynamics the creative industries sector's potential is not used enough.

2. The analysis of Vilnius creative industries clustering characteristics revealed the fragmentation of city's creative companies; clustering between companies is very weak--they are producing undifferentiated, similar products and services. Companies operate in areas where infrastructure is not fitted for production. Lithuanian creative industries companies have less possibility to compete in international markets, particularly under intensified competition conditions.

3. The Vilnius city's most visible, promoting the city's creativity and sustaining it as the "creative city" are these categories of the creative industries: Arts categories (there are many "high arts", professional staff, arts organizations of fine and performing arts groups and festivals, forums and other events of this group in the city); Media categories (attracting the largest audience for a lot of festivals and successful business projects--Kino pavasaris, Triumfo arka, Pravda viena minute, Skalvija, Kino pasaka, StarWorks, GetJar, Ivolgamus, Gaumina, etc.) activities in the city with the largest homogeneous and heterogeneous audiences, the ultimate amount of companies that create highest added economic value and provide jobs; initiatives of creative and civil communities (including communities of ethnic minorities (2)); creative communities--Protest Laboratory, KultFlux, Newtown Revolution, Uzupio Respublika, Commune Art, laimikis. lt; BEEpart; Street Music Day, Let There Be Night, Fluxus Ministry, etc.; civil communities and their initiatives in such districts of Vilnius--Old Town, Uzupis, Balsiai, Zverynas, Antakalnis, Trakai, Voke, Jeruzale, Naujamiestis, Naujoji Vilnia. Civil communities of Vilnius are fairly well organized--there is a Vilnius Communities Association while minor ethnic communities can develop their activities through ethnic cultural centres and The House of Ethnic Communities (Tautiniu bendriju namai 2000) (3). Some civil communities realize creative industries Art's categories projects--such as Uzupio Respublika and Newtown Revolution projects. City's creative and civil communities stimulate the cultural life, promote citizenship and sustain a creative atmosphere in the city. There are many different creative industries activities, projects, events, initiatives of revitalization of abandoned quarters, districts and buildings, however, many of them are quite chaotic, overlapping, although they have a cultural and social impact on the city, but provide low added economic value.

4. The most successful cases of cultural district building, using the tools of creative industries are Uzupis, Naujamiestis and Pilaite districts. Most of the creative industries tools used for forming the identity of the cultural district are Art's categories activities. In other cases, when for a building of new district identity Functional creature's categories (architectural) activities are used, there is a project The Park of Architecture, initiated by Municipality of Vilnius, to distinguish themselves in combining high technology and advanced social ideas.

5. Cultural activities have been used to promote (territorial) development, without direct relation with "creative cities" strategies: frequently, some situations have also been verified in which the own regulatory mechanisms of these activities, spontaneously, induced territorial development and competitiveness without a reflected and concerted strategy (cultural districts dynamics, localized productive systems, territorialized clusters).

6. That "trend" to build "creative cities" has encouraged policy makers to adopt standardised formulas for cultural development. This often takes the form of a check-list of requirements such as a new art gallery, an ethnic festival, a media cluster or some public art. However, with this method very little attention is given to the process of cultural development. While these assets might provide an initial attraction for companies or creative practitioners, what processes can sustain cultural development? It is not enough to include creative industries sector as a priority in the strategic plan of Vilnius city municipality--it is very important to be "inside" the city culture, to understand what is going on in the citizens everyday way of life, what kind of creativity we can find in different citizens groups and communities, what impact those creative activities are having on the city, what kind of culture the city produces, etc. City creativity is not a matter of mapping, but a matter of living in it.

doi: 10.3846/20290197.2011.577141

Received 3 January 2011, accepted 19 January 2011


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Jurate Cerneviciute

Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Institute of Humanities, Department of Creative Entrepreneurship and Communication, Sauletekio al. 11, LT-10223 Vilnius, Lithuania E-mail:
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