Cultural Districts

Cultural Districts

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3416-8.ch004
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Basing the creative economy on a community's history and culture makes it unique. In addition, the community will have more buy in and participate in the changes. Often, disruptive leaders come from the fringes of our communities, seeing the uniqueness when others only want the status quo or are embroiled in just trying to make their business work. Often, local governments do not see the potential of thinking out of the box and need a push to go in a different direction. In larger communities, often there are multiple cultures living in their own ethnic areas. The need to create cultural districts to support the development of the unique creative economies of each district is a catalyst to igniting the creative economy. Capitalizing on cultural mapping, the history of a region, and getting support from local, state, and national governments can mean success or failure. This chapter explores cultural districts.
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A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots -Marcus Garvey

Thriving creative economies are based on the culture that the citizens of a certain community embrace. Community culture embodies several principles. One is the art and innovation experienced in a public way, not just private or in specific groups. Community culture identifies uniquely social functions of a specific culture including goals shared across society that our worthy to pursue. In 1982, Kevin Mulcahy determined five dominant justifications of community culture: 1) economic; 2) social; 3) educational; 4) moral; and 5) political arguments. In addition, community culture is thought to serve private interest, so the support of community culture is necessary for public interest as well. It is within these shared goals that the creative economy develops and thrives. The creative economy grows organically from culture. Mulcahy’s 1982 research reflects today’s environment today. The basic functions of community culture have not changed (National Governors Association, 2019).

Community culture provides greater social connection and increases the social capital of a community. Furthermore, it removes social barriers and allows more citizens to participate in cultural creation rather than being just customers of a marketplace. Society needs to work toward a future in which communities are actively working toward retaining and building on their own unique culture. Community culture is connected to moral worth, where high culture is in the public interest and to be used for the purpose of peacebuilding and providing a higher quality of life. The concept of merit or moral high ground is an uncritical approach in which things are just and good, in and of themselves, and should be protected. The merits of artistry and innovation produce an experience of moral worth and a “quality of life.” One’s culture provides opportunity where everyone has a right to the culture, and everyone shares the culture (Kidd, 2012).

The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (2000) determined that culture is as important as education. With this increased interest in culture, Kidd (2012) determined that government should subsidize culture as they do education. The economic rationale for community culture is that it ignites economic prosperity and improves a community’s sense of place. Furthermore, there is an argument that community culture is rooted in the principles of democracy. By pursuing democracy and the creative economy, we build social capital and symbolically illustrate democratic principles. The political system and democracy are then reflected in creative content. We can expect the arts and innovation to reflect society as a whole and societal changes that occur (Kidd, 2012). As democracy is challenged and modern norms threaten communities, disruptive leaders are working in their communities to ignite the creative economy to save their unique cultures.

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