Universities have long been active in the production of creative economies. We forge research relationships with cultural partners. Through teaching and practice, we cultivate creative talent. Through mapping and measuring, we contribute to conversations about the boundaries, composition and impacts of the creative economy. We’re vocal about how political discourse around creativity has instrumentalised culture.

And yet recent policy shifts have pushed universities into new relationships with creative industries that are rife with contradiction.

The intensified industrialisation of ‘creativity’ as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation, along with a move towards student-consumer led models, is casting universities as talent pipelines, regional anchors, and incubators for the ‘creative economy’. Simultaneously, state funding for public services continues to contract along with the de-investment in the arts across all levels of education. And while we are compelled to address questions of diversity and access, our work is often responsible for taking part in the very conversations that shape, define, and value a creative economy, which is beset by exclusivity, precarity and exploitation.

What assumptions, constructs and discourses underpin the relationship between the current shape of creative labour and the university?

As researchers are called to participate in knowledge exchange and R&D initiatives with CCIs, how do institutional systems compound problems particularly around fair and prompt pay, attribution, intellectual property and the articulation of economic and cultural value?

Universities forge relationships with organisations at different scales, such as schools, third sector organisations, cultural institutions, and creative companies. The complexities of these multifaceted, and cross-scalar relationships have both geographic and political inflections. Although we strive to work collaboratively with creative practitioners, artists, and talent of all kinds, our institutional processes and lack of interdisciplinary experience makes these partnerships hard to sustain.

How do these networks, and our participation in them, both perform postcapitalist possibilities while simultaneously constitute the ‘creative economy’ as a neoliberal construct?

How might university teaching and research be reimagined to create impact and build the capacity of our partners?

As placemakers, universities become complicit in gentrification processes by constructing new urban amenities, student housing and downtown learning hubs while concurrently supporting social goals such as inclusivity, education and accessibility.

How might universities participate in broader arts-led regeneration efforts while mitigating affordable housing crises and the displacement of residents, creative workers and cultural organisations?

How do these dynamics impact not only city development but also regional economic and cultural vitality?

Creativity, Knowledge, Cities is seeking papers and contributors for a conference which embraces these contradictions as a generative principle for future strategy. 


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