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Culture: Civic Badge Or Serious Business?

July 6, 2010

I gave a keynote this morning (6 July 2010), at the Entrepreneurial Cultures in European Cities Conference, held at the Maritime Museum, National Museums Liverpool. The talk was entitled Culture: Civic Badge or Serious Business? Some thoughts on transaction, creativity and enterprise.My powerpoint presentation, based on a ‘walk down Liverpool’s Smithdown Road’ from downtown to the leafier suburbs, asked how can we shape (relative) gentrification to include the entrepreneurs who bring it about? Where do civic, creative and community interests coincide?

I based much of my talk around ideas of enterprise, transformation (through cultural process), migration and sustainability and resilience. Here is the discussion paper….

Summary introduction
The Entrepreneurial Cultures in European Cities programme which is the subject of this conference involved working with people in small businesses who do not generally embrace the ‘arts and museums’ agenda; yet common ground was perhaps established through shared enthusiasms for creativity and enterprise.
But the formal arts and culture which represent civic pride and major business attainment still do not often engage local business people downtown.
Successful downtown entrepreneurs, some newcomers, may nonetheless trigger economic development and thereby the process of gentrification. This transition is often decried, but it is also the route to a ‘better’ neighbourhood.
So how can we shape gentrification to include, rather than dislocate, the small-scale entrepreneurs initiating it? Where do civic, creative and community interests coincide?

Good morning.
And welcome to Liverpool, the city in which I have lived for the past forty years.
Perhaps I can start this talk by sharing what I hope to achieve with you this morning.

Three questions
I have been asked to address three questions which relate closely to the work you have all been collaborating on over the past two years.
These questions, to which I will offer a broad-brush but I hope interesting response, are:
1. What overall perspective might be developed to describe the influence of museums, art and culture on entrepreneurs, and vice versa?
2. How can an arts / artistic approach help entrepreneurs to develop exciting business strategies and reach customers? And…
3. How can entrepreneurs / business people influence artists?
I will address these questions in the context of the overall Programme in which you have been operating (Culture 2007-2013), for which I understand the specific objectives are benefit to
1. the transnational mobility of people working in the cultural sector;
2. the transnational circulation of artistic and cultural works; and finally
3. intercultural and transnational dialogue.
Of these three objectives, my focus will be particularly on the third, and most general, dimension.

Key terms
I will use the ideas of Transaction and Transformation to respond to the issues above.
Wikipedia provides a useful definition of these terms:
A transaction is an agreement, communication, or movement carried out between separate entities or objects, often involving the exchange of items of value, such as information, goods, services, and money.
Transformation can be defined as how organisations ‘take inputs such as land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship and turn them into outputs such as physical goods and intangible services. In many cases the output of a business is a combination of goods and services; for example in a restaurant you are buying a meal but also the environment and the service. The aim of all organisations is to add value i.e. to create outputs that are worth more than the inputs. In many cases the value of inputs is measured in financial terms in which case we say that organisations aim to make a profit. A profit occurs when the revenue generated by sales exceeds the costs of providing the product. In the case of non profit organisations …. other indicators are used to measure the value added.’
(Gillespie, Foundations of Economics, Oxford University Press, 2007)
We can also turn to Wikipedia for a definition of Entrepreneur, the third of the central terms I will use in this discussion:
An entrepreneur is a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome. …. The term is originally a loanword from French ….. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to the type of personality who is willing to take upon herself or himself a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.
Interestingly, and aptly in the context of our current discussions, a French economist (Jean-Baptiste Say) is believed to have coined the word “entrepreneur” first in about 1800. It seems there has been something of a pan-European interest in this sort of idea for quite a long time!

I will not attempt in this company to provide definitions for the words Arts, Culture and Creativity – I am certain you will each have your own very clear views on the meanings of these words and I will simply assume that we share in using them some core assumptions. I will make the same assumption for that other critical word in our discussion, which is Business.

But already we are seeing here a commonality between ideas of artistic activity and the term I want to examine in more detail, which is Enterprise.
Both these ideas – artistic activity and enterprise – are surely dependent on Creativity; and both depend for their delivery on an understanding of the various meanings of Transaction.

The bases of this discussion
Having then identified the concepts I see as core to this discussion, it may be helpful if I mention briefly the way in which I will address the issues we have been invited to consider:
• (1) My first task is to look at the extent to which arts and culture interface with business, commerce and enterprise, bearing in mind the context of European cities.
• (2:i) Following from this, I will examine some connections which are developing between the arts and enterprise (culture and commerce), and consider the constraints and opportunities which accompany these developments and potential synergies.
• (2:ii) I hope it will be useful at this stage of our discussion to look at some commonly used ideas about arts and enterprise, but perhaps in a different light, to see what more we can learn about these potential synergies – and also to see when each best stands apart from the other.
• (3) I would then like to propose a possible framework in which we can measure or evaluate progress towards achieving synergies in arts and enterprise.
• (4) And finally, because I believe – as, no doubt, do you – that arts, culture and enterprise must all be meaningful for people in general, not just for the few, I will frame my comments about connections and about evaluation specifically in terms of sustainability and community embeddedness.

How do culture and the arts interface with business and enterprise?
I expect most people in ‘the arts’ would agree that nearly all artists, whatever their genre, are enterprising; but quite probably far fewer business people not working in the arts would agree.
I base this observation in part on two contrasting aspects of my own experience.
First, I have been married for over forty years to a professional classical violinist. Throughout that time I have been involved in many ways in his life’s work and the singularly artistic world in which he mostly lives.
And second, I am in my own life a social scientist, a business person with my own company, and a social entrepreneur, in all of which capacities I meet many people who have almost no connection with the arts and culture in any formal sense.
My own work is largely about sustainability, regeneration and place-making – concerns which are on-going and usually physically enduring, just as much other ‘normal’ business is.
My husband’s work however, like that of many of his colleague across the arts and culture, concerns intense focus on clear end-points. A concert is performed, an exhibition is curated, a fashion collection is presented; and then life moves on.
In both my husband’s case and mine, with luck our skills and knowledge have increased; but over time this is evidenced in very different ways.
I am sure that to people in the ‘normal’ business world the outputs of an artist look ephemeral in a way that ordinary business activity does not.
It can be difficult for people outside ‘arts and culture’ to take this seriously as enterprise, especially if they are not conscious of the extraordinary amount of effort which is invested in many cultural activities.
So where do the worlds of ‘ordinary’ business and arts and culture meet? And how can each make sense to the other? What sorts of transactions and transformations occur?
There are of course numerous places where this can happen comfortably and constructively.

Firstly, there are obviously many situations in which one activity provides a service for the other. Artists sell their paintings to companies, accountants prepare the annual returns for musicians, photographers capture images for retail marketing, IT consultants set up internet connections for cultural businesses of many sorts….
Having initiated and then for some years been the first Chair of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce Arts and Culture Committee, I am very conscious of this interface; but all these activities and many more happen every day and are so commonplace that they barely even register with most of us.

Secondly, there are vast numbers of arts and cultural enterprises which develop ‘followers’ – those groups of people who do not practice the arts as professionals themselves, but have a personal commitment and interest in such activities.
The great orchestras and theatre, opera and ballet companies all have ‘fans’ who want to attend every performance, and are often willing to travel to see productions elsewhere, even when arrangements are complex and the cost in time and money is considerable. Whether it’s Glyndebourne or Wimbledon, the Cup Final or the BBC Proms, there are audiences who are fiercely loyal and tenacious.
This is where the parallel perspective on arts and sports comes into its own. It’s all about performance by highly skilled professionals overtly in the public domain, doing the action apparently just for itself.
But of course it’s not really as easy as that.
Not only is there always social as well as economic transaction here between audience and performers, but there is also the interaction – often consciously sought – between members of the audience, whether on a formal basis (‘Friends’ or fan clubs) or just as created in the course of the event: Glastonbury might be a good example of this second, informal type of interface.

And then, thirdly, there are the arts and business connections which derive from, say, the established collections of fine art, sculpture and historical artefacts to be found in museums and galleries in almost any significant city in the world.
These comprise a different sort of experience from the performance events we have just considered.
Such collections are based fundamentally on the knowledge and expertise of professional practitioners, but that knowledge is generally presented to the public simply as an accompanying handbook, an audio tape or even just a small label placed nearby each item to be viewed.
But the items themselves have a solidity which is absent in much performing art, and in that sense the collections represent a longer-lasting ‘product’, something conserved over time – though even here differences exist. A gallery selling paintings, for instance, offers a different visitor experience than does a collection of priceless antiquities being exhibited in one of the great museums, with all its own special history and traditions.
Nonetheless, the physically solid nature of collections of artefacts sets them firmly apart from performance events.
Once established, artefactual collections exist independently of interactive human nurturing; they do not require the concurrent personal presence of any of those whose expertise created the actual proposition; they permit a more malleable experience for the observer – who is not required to attend for pre-set durations and times to experience them; and they exist in the same form both before and after the visitor has seen them.

In other words, whilst all art is creative, the way in which it is received – the transaction between creator and observer – varies significantly between different sorts of art.
This difference is, I think, important when we consider issues such as the interface of enterprise and culture.

Developing connections and synergies
The interface of enterprise and culture, or even simply arts and business, is the central theme of the work which has been undertaken over the past two years by people present here today.
Your report suggests that this is a rapidly expanding field for the work of the museums and other arts organisations, and its parameters have yet to be fully defined. The work thus far is exploratory and I am sure everyone would say more remains to be done before we will see all the ways in which it can be developed and applied.
Nonetheless, I would suggest that already the themes we have mentioned – creativity, transaction and enterprise – do provide a framework and setting for the ideas and activities we are discussing. Perhaps they have not all been identified as such, but they are there.

An example may take this suggestion forward:
A number of the projects developed in this programme involved that admirable facility, the local coffee shop or cafe.
Coffee shops have been a feature of the interface between culture and local people for at least a couple of centuries – think the eighteenth century houses of London or Vienna as the hothouses of intellectual development * – but in this case they served more, at least initially, as a focus simply for the exchange and then curation of information about local activity.
(* See e.g. Wikipedia and the Portcities website.)
But from these first transactions there has also been a degree of transformation.
The skills of creative practitioners have been used to change the way in which every day actions are perceived. Local people’s normal activities have become ‘art’; they now have a different status because they are being exhibited – and are therefore of interest to others as well as the original actors.
And interestingly, perhaps this process has been brought more sharply into focus because some of the entrepreneurs who own and run the coffee shops and other small businesses in their local communities are themselves people who see the world a different light. They are, or were, ‘outsiders’ who arrived from elsewhere and brought a different perspective, or saw a hitherto undetected opportunity.
These entrepreneurs, small business people who needed to make a living, have themselves been part creators of an enduring local economy.

The coffee shops were not initially used because they were places for creative thinking, but that in some respects is what they have become. And to an extent that is also what has happened to the other community activities and locations of the people involved.
Enterprise – the activities of the shop owners and some of their customers – has become culture through creative transaction, both the creativity of the shop owners and then, more overtly, the creativity of the curators of that activity.
In this respect the coffee shops have taken on significance as ‘cultural badges’ for their local communities, perhaps in some ways as the original eighteenth century ones did.

Whether other forms of art can also play a part here is presumably at present unclear. Can the local coffee shop become again a place where we expect routinely that music is performed, books are discussed, art work is exhibited? Who knows?
And will the local coffee shop ever be seen by the civic powers-that-be as an element in their city’s cultural strategy? Rarely are taxis perceived as central to a city’s transport strategy, and the evidence so far suggests that the same applies to cultural strategies and businesses such as coffee shops.

But however the civic authorities see these small creatively-reconstructed enterprises, there is little doubt that coffee shops can come to form a focus within their own communities.
And it would be surprising if telling the stories which underpin these businesses, as the Entrepreneurial Cultures programme has done, did not increase interest in them, and possibly also customer base and turn-over.
There is synergy to be had in this activity between the owner of the enterprise and the creative practitioner who presents his or her story. This is a creative transaction which transforms the business story which it tells.

Civic perspectives on arts and enterprise: the ‘badge-ing’ of creativity
I want now to move from the small-scale of local entrepreneurs whose work is creatively presented in their own communities, to the level of formal civic, city-wide engagement.
My feeling is that, potentially at least, the arts in any location provide that place with a ‘badge’.
In the case of the coffee shop that badge is simply a marker for the local community, a focus which indicates the community exists of itself and has its own history.
On the other hand, any great civic arts organisation – the museums, theatres, orchestras of any serious city – is a Badge for that city; a visible and important indication that the city takes itself seriously and has something to say to the wider world.
In Liverpool, for instance, the marketing of the city is closely bound with the arts institutions on Hope Street (I speak as founder-chair of HOPES: The Hope Street Association) and in our present location, around the Albert Dock and the city centre ‘cultural quarter’. These are presented to potential visitors and investors as evidence that Liverpool is a great city.
Indeed, on occasion the city allocates a budget to send elements of this cultural offer to other parts of the UK or the world, to deliver this very message. Drama, concerts and visual arts collections branded ‘from Liverpool’ appear in many different places and as contributions to many different events. Their presence is intended quite overtly to remind others that Liverpool has heavy-weight heritage and can offer ‘high culture’ to match anywhere else.
These formal artistic endeavours are, then, critical elements of civic pride and seriousness, both within the city and the region, and beyond it. Many citizens of Liverpool who would never expect to enter a concert hall, a theatre or a museum will nonetheless tell you they are proud that these cultural facilities exist.
One aspect of this civic pride is that significant businesses and other large employers in the city are sometimes willing ‘buy in’ to what we have identified as the cultural ‘Badge’. There is – or at least until now has been – sufficient return on their financial investment (sponsorship) to justify such expenditure.
I do not intend here to explore in more depth the S-word (Sponsorship); you will already all have spent many hours talking about this very subject on many occasions.
But I would like to think a little more about what the Badge-ing, by their host cities and large financial investors, of major civic arts organisations means; and then what the badge-ing, through creative activity in communities, of small local enterprises also tells us.

Cultural and Creative ‘Badges’ for Enterprise and Entertainment: the civic ‘CBE’
You may be aware that the CBE is an honour bestowed on citizens who have in some way distinguished themselves. I want to suggest that in some respects the badge-ing of culture and enterprise has a similar role; but this badge-ing is in the cultural example two-way and, depending on circumstances, can be conferred by either party on the other.
The great cultural organisations of a city (or town) are the Civic Badges which represent that place. They demonstrate that the city is important.
On the other hand, the role of creative practitioners is itself the process, the community badge, by which parts of a local community – such as coffee shops – can become significant in a stronger sense than before.
In describing these processes we have identified at least two differing roles for the various arts practitioners involved.
In the ‘Civic Badge’ example (the big arts organisations) the practitioners’ civic role is to act out the message that their city and their big sponsors are great.
Whilst the practitioners themselves may be more interested in delivering their art in the best way they possibly can, from the perspective of most of their funders – or at least their private sponsors – it is the civic marketing role which is critical. The big businesses as sponsors, and often their host city itself, are the focus of this investment.
As we would expect, most arts funders supply funding on a strictly business or civic promotion basis. In general, the arts for them are entertainment which highlights other things.
Conversely, the ‘community badge’ process which comes about when arts practitioners work local businesses and entrepreneurs is often actually led by the artists themselves. The funding – such as it is – probably covers costs and no more, and the benefit accrues at least in part to the local entrepreneur and his or her community.
Of course there will be some credit to any big arts organisations which have backed the initiative, but it is likely to be marginal. The largest benefit, I’d suggest, will probably be felt by the local people involved. If you own a coffee shop, it does no harm to the profit margin to bring potential customers together and share history and ideas with them.
In this case, the arts are actually the instigator of a process which, intentionally or otherwise, brings focus to local entrepreneurship and local community connections.
[Note: I recognise that, along with the coffee and cake shops, there were also other sorts of enterprises involved in the Entrepreneurial Cultures programme, but, given the constraints of time and for the purpose of illustration, I have selected just the most frequently mentioned example. Looking to see whether the model here works for other instances also might perhaps be an interesting exercise for the future.]
So where does this leave us? How does the interface between arts and business work?
Firstly, we can now return to the discussion of types of arts-and-enterprise activity discussed earlier on in this paper.
We noted then that some of this activity is (at the point of delivery) ‘static’ and available to its ‘audience’ any time, and some requires full commitment of allocated time; some of it involves straight financial transaction and some of it engages also at other levels.
The ‘coffee shop’ type of arts-end-enterprise activities would seem in this analysis to tend towards the ‘static but engaging’ part of the framework.
The collection of the ‘coffee shop’ type of archive material is of course a major exercise in itself and requires close contact with the artists as curators; but after that phase is complete viewing and discussion can be on a relaxed schedule to suit individuals. The exhibition remains constant, but the size and nature of the audience can change by the hour.

Secondly, there is benefit to the owner of the small business and its premises, as well as to those who curate and develop the exhibition. The business owner may find s/he has more customers and that the reputation of the business is enhanced.
Again, there is reciprocity between the initiating artists and the business owner in this, but the potential for the business person to promote their commercial activity is always present.

And thirdly, despite the potential for local business to benefit, the ‘community badge’ to which we refer above is in the current examples conferred by the artists to the business, and not the other way around.
It was the arts practitioners who devised and proposed the programme, and the local business people who agreed (or otherwise) to become involved.
At this stage in developments there is little evidence that the larger arts organisations behind the initiative are using this initiative to polish their own ‘bigger’ Civic Badge as they move forward, although I suspect that later on this may become a factor at some point in future considerations.

Arts-and-enterprise impacts and synergies: Sustainability and Gentrification
Given the factors listed above, our focus at present lies with the impact of the Entrepreneurial Cultures programme on the people and small businesses in the communities in which the project has been developed.
How then might this impact be determined?
I will move aside at this point from the usual numerical ways, in the UK at least, that cultural impact is measured. Important though these statistics are, the numbers of people ‘involved’, and the careful enumeration of what sorts of people they might be (black, white, older, younger…), tell only a partial and rather unreal story – partial, because the measurements are rarely secure, and unreal because these statistics are quite often close to meaningless in the minds of the participants themselves. These factors are significant, but not ultimately defining.
Let me therefore suggest a different set of criteria for the evaluation of the impact of this programme on its local communities.
I would like to propose that we look at impact in terms of Sustainability and Gentrification.

Both these terms are notoriously difficult to pin down and define, but I will try:
Sustainability is generally linked with ideas such as ‘linking citizens to resources and to one another to create healthy, vital … communities’ (see Sustainable Communities Network) and ‘well-connected, carbon-efficient communities with a range of facilities such as schools, health centres, shops, pubs and parks’ (UK Homes and Communities Agency).

And the term Gentrification was introduced by the British sociologist Ruth Glass (in 1964), to denote the influx of middle-class people to cities and neighborhoods, displacing the lower-class worker residents; the example was London, and its working-class districts such as Islington. Wikipedia tell us that, as in a previous example here, this term has French origins, in this instance the Old French word genterise denoting “of gentle birth” (14th c.) and “people of gentle birth” (16th c.); which in England (Landed gentry) denoted the highest social class below the nobility. To quote Ruth Glass:
One by one, many of the working class neighbourhoods of London have been invaded by the middle-classes—upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages—two rooms up and two down—have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences … Once this process of ‘gentrification’ starts in a district it goes on rapidly, until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.
Some photographs and examples of this process, especially in London, can be seen on the Multimania website ‘What is Gentrification’? But most of us I would guess can already draw on direct knowledge of gentrification in our own cities and towns all across Europe.

There is of course a major issue in considering sustainability and gentrification as two elements of change which may be occurring at the same time in some urban communities.
 In seeking to enhance the well-being of people in, especially, ‘downtown’ communities, we run the risk also of seeing a process of gentrification which results in the displacement of the very business owners and workers who brought this process about.
 When this occurs sustainability (of people, families, local communities) can be jeopardized; and there is a very real risk too that environmental sustainability, insofar as it exists, will also be brought further into question as consumption increases.
Indeed, you will already know that gentrification, especially in the normal economic sense, and perhaps also increasingly in the environmental context, is a frequent concern of the emerging artists and artisans who choose to live and work in such areas because of the initially low costs of housing, workspace and every-day living.

My thoughts and questions are therefore as follows:
 Could it be that close attention to community and local business enhancement through programmes such as the Entrepreneurial Cultures initiatives offer ways to achieve a better level of social and economic well-being, without the enhanced risk also of displacement through gentrification of the sort described above?
 Is there some way in which, as we acknowledge also the newly ‘green’ challenges which we must all face, a gentler and more equitable level of gentrification can be sustained? Can we substitute ‘greater well-being’ for the idea of gentrification?
 Can this be helped by artists and other non-arts business people working together to develop their communities and customer base, whilst somehow at the same time working to ensure these entrepreneurs develop their businesses both eco-sustainably and in preparation for more activity when gentrification begins to occur?
 Is there some way in which the additional and distinctive experience and characteristics of local community business people who know from their own lives about transitions, about intercultural and transnational matters, can be brought to bear positively on these matters?

If there is anything of use in these ideas, I would want to suggest that the first step towards implementation is an evaluation against which measure progress, using a number of business and eco- indicators which would be different perhaps from the ‘normal’ ones.
It is not usual, for instance, to measure the impact of community arts programmes in terms of the annual turn-over of the local host businesses – in this case coffee shops and the like.
Nonetheless, this is presumably part of the thinking of the big businesses which contribute to the sponsorship of our ‘Civic Badge’ large-scale arts organisations. So why not consider this too in the contexts of local community businesses, the sorts of enterprises which we have seen as deserving ‘community badges’ rather than Civic ones?
Drawing in further expertise where necessary, the arts programmes which have been developed with local entrepreneurs over the past two years could in future work quite overtly with them to develop business plans appropriate for the opportunities to become more sustainable, and also for the perceived threats of gentrification.
This would still require documentation, curation and community engagement as elements of development, but with a view to greater sustainability in terms of environmental and economic objectives.
Such an approach is a far cry from the normal visitor ‘head and bed’ count measurements of cultural economic impact assessment, not least because it continues to work with local businesses, and perhaps also with their customers or ‘fan base’, as involved partners even after the original programme has been developed. But it might just work.

Building on creativity, enterprise and the experience of other places
We started by noting that most arts activity has clear end-points, at least from the perspective of the observer, whilst most other business is more evidently enduring.
The idea proposed here takes this particular artistic endeavour beyond the immediate to a longer-term objective which would have meaning for both the artists and the communities and entrepreneurs involved.
But there is one further element which may be significant in this proposal:
Many of the entrepreneurs who were party to the European Cities programme have at some point been migrant or transnational. They know about life in other places, and they have for themselves experienced the challenges of substantial change.
In other words, these entrepreneurs are likely to be people who understand how to survive change in both their business lives and in the social environments. As such, they are surely ideally placed to help in the transition to a different sort of community?
The intracultural and transnational life histories of many local community shop keepers and other small business owners offers a real opportunity to navigate change successfully.
To these people, transactions between different communities, groups, even cultures are, or have in their past experience been, a way of life. They have a track record of creativity already – albeit quite often of a different sort from that which most arts practitioners first expect.

The future
The perspective I have suggested may offer a number of ways forward.
Whilst there are doubtless many considerations to bring to the table, I see this idea as enabling the ‘big’ part of some arts organisations to combine with the ‘small, local’ parts of their activities, to the benefit of both. This idea should potentially result in the Civic Badge and the community badge approaches coming together in ways which support everyone.

But there is one enormous question still to be asked.
In the conclusion to their book, launched today as a record of the Enterprising Cultures in European Cities programme, Renee Kistemaker and Elisabeth Tietmayer make the following observations:

[Experiences previously gathered] demonstrated to us that it is possible to interest shop-keepers and other entrepreneurs in educational and exhibition projects run by museums, turning them into active partners, although … they have very little time to spare….
Small and medium-sized businesses are one aspect of a major development over the past forty years….. Traditional neighbourhood shops either disappeared or were taken over by new entrepreneurs, [who often] provide an energizing and innovative element [and] set up their own businesses, more so than in the native populations… Local and national governments consider these entrepreneurs the economic and social backbone of society. It is for this reason that governments often try to stimulate local economies by improving the opportunities for new entrepreneurs, combined with an urban revitilization of the neighbourhoods.

This narrative brings with it the question we have yet to address:
 Who, or what organisation/s, should take responsibility for driving forward the local community agenda?
 And exactly what, as a corollary, needs to be on that agenda? Must it now include aspects of sustainability which are beyond the simple, albeit challenging, notion simply of economic growth?

These are not issues to be resolved immediately, but they are also not questions which are likely to go away.
The dialogue needs to be between the communities themselves (however demanding of time and skill from all parties this may be), with the organisations who have instigated the present programme, with the relevant city councils and other civic bodies and, critically, with full involvement by the local entrepreneurs who have been identified as willing and possibly active agents for positive change.
In the end, our big question is this:
Who is going to take responsibility for helping local communities to transact a constructive course towards greater well-being (if not gentrification), but whilst also maintaining community sustainability in all its meanings?
My guess is that people such as those involved in the current programme have a significant role to play in all this, but it will also require a lot of other enterprising people and creative thinking in our wider communities, to help us see precisely in what ways to move forward.

Where, as we asked at the start of this discussion, do civic, creative and community interests coincide?

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