RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2013

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216 New frontiers of connecting communities in the creative economy (2)
Convenor(s) Saskia Warren (University of Birmingham, UK)
Phil Jones (University of Birmingham, UK)
Chair(s) Saskia Warren (University of Birmingham, UK)
Timetable Thursday 29 August 2013, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Room Skempton Building, Lecture Theatre 164
Session abstract This session explores the research theme of Connected Communities, a major AHRC-led cross-Research Council programme, with address to the creative economy. The vision of the programme is to mobilize the potential for increasingly “inter-connected, culturally diverse communities to enhance participation, prosperity, sustainability, health and well-being by better connecting research, stakeholders and communities” (AHRC 2012). There is little research, however, on how geographers would conceptualize the theme of connected communities in the creative economy. Of particular interest to the session is work on the creative economy that engages with policy-making, inequalities and/or ‘hard to reach’ communities.

Policy associated with the ‘Big Society’ (Cameron 2010), with emphasis on localized and distributed forms of governance alongside reductions on public spending, is transforming the role of the state and cultural organizations. Contradictions of increased expectation placed on community-driven initiatives and a climate of major cuts to public services need to be addressed to understand the future of participation in the creative economy. It is also clear organizations that are not usually associated with the creative industries are employing creative practices to connect with new individuals and groups. Research on forms of cultural intermediation (Bourdieu 1979) in the creative economy has shown recently that activities are usually multi-level and networked, involving individuals, communities, institutions, agencies and local/national government (Woo 2012; Baker 2012; Wright 2005). This broadening of scope on the work of the creative economy has stimulated the provocation ‘we are all cultural intermediaries now’ (Maguire and Matthews 2012: 552).

This session will investigate theories and processes of connecting communities in the creative economy considering: its meaning; its value; the ways in which it operates today; who is included and excluded; and whether it can operate more effectively, particularly in the context of public sector funding cuts.
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2013@rgs.org
In search of place at night: discourses of, in and on the Surry Hills nightscape
Peta Wolifson (University of New South Wales, Australia)
This paper outlines research examining sense(s) of place in the night-time economy of Surry Hills, in the City of Sydney, Australia. This research uses the City of Sydney’s currently developing night-time cultural policy to highlight and address a lack of appropriate community engagement in developing ‘creative (night-time) economy’. The City’s policy aims to advance Sydney as a truly global city through vibrancy, diversity, inclusion, safety and economic growth, embracing the increasingly ‘normative model’ (Waitt & Gibson 2009) of place-making through the ‘creative economy’, and the ideas of Richard Florida and, especially, Charles Landry (2011). There has been no attempt to date by the City to address concerns that ‘creative city’ planning exacerbates processes of gentrification and deepens social inequalities. Utilising Rose’s (2007) inclusive conception of discourse as both visual and linguistic, I take a phenomenological approach to studying the everynight in Surry Hills. In this approach, I have recorded experiences of the night in place, employing ethnographic methods where participants are encouraged to ‘read’ the nightscape. Participant-guided walking interviews have shed light on understandings of the nightscape by the users of the space themselves. Group ‘go-alongs’ have allowed for observations of participation in the night-time economy of Surry Hills. These observations will help to uncover a sense of the multiplicity of meanings of this nightscape. A discourse analysis of policy documents and other media will contextualise the research, helping to illuminate the impact of ‘creative city’ discourses on limiting equal access to participation in the night-time economy.
Connected communities and story cultures
Arthi Manohar (University of Dundee, UK)
Steven Birnie (NCR and University of Dundee, UK)
Jon Rogers (University of Dundee, UK)
When Internet became a significant part of our everyday life, the concept of community began to transform. According to Putnam (2000), people in a community have the need to feel connected for their well-being, redevelopment or to lead a sustainable lifestyle. This paper will look at connecting communities through story cultures. The study will explore how communities can interact within and across each other using auto ID technology, which facilitates real time interaction though handheld devices. Storytelling is explored as a creative tool throughout the research to understand cross-cultural communities. In this study, storytelling is identified as a social activity, which triggers people to interact and share experiences, which in turn has proved to influence each other lives. The paper also explores how important it is to strengthen the existing networks and also create new networks.

The research proposes a design framework, which offers a holistic approach for researchers (designers) to reinforce cultural identity in communities. The advantages and drawbacks in applying participatory creative methods are explored in this paper, which are tested various communities located in India, Portugal and Scotland. The research is approached through design research methods and it is identified that there is value in addressing social issues through creative practice. We will present new insights that further the notion that in-depth cultural and social values are better approached through creative methods. By such technological intervention in communities what are the effects and new form of community, creativity and opportunity that might emerge? If technology played a significant role in connecting people, do some communities look at technology as a hindrance, and, if so, why? Will this technology growth be a threat to the community or will it help strength the ties within and across communities? And does such intervention transform the meaning of community?
The creative economy in remote rural areas: digital inclusion and resilience
Elisabeth Roberts (University of Aberdeen, UK)
Leanne Townsend (University of Aberdeen, UK)
This paper explores the impact of connectivity for creative practitioners and the resilience of remote communities in which they live. Despite geographers arguing recently that it is important to look to rural creative economies alongside urban centres (Bell & Jayne, 2010; Harvey et al, 2012) ‘hard to reach’ communities such as those in remote rural areas, struggle to fully participate due to a broadening digital divide. With UK policy focusing on the rollout of superfast broadband the divide is multiple, excluding those without access, those without high speeds, and those without the knowledge, desire or financial capacity to use the Internet fully. The UK digital agenda is largely market-driven, and interventions, under BDUK (2010), fall mainly to rural communities to bid for funding to improve connectivity in their area. And whilst there are many examples of community broadband initiatives that show creativity and resilience, the processes and infrastructure utilized are not necessarily applicable in remote regions with disperse populations. Such fragile communities, therefore, offer a pertinent opportunity to study individual and community resilience and the impact of digital inclusion. This paper will investigate these issues through an RCUK Digital Economy funded project- SIRA- undertaking qualitative research on creative industries using satellite internet in rural areas. Rural areas attract creative practitioners who contribute to the local economy, e.g., through tourism, yet are not always party to the same forms of marketing, networking, data capacity or collaborative processes available to those better connected. Remote rural areas represent a broad spectrum of ‘creatives’ from traditional crafters to website design. The socio-economic implications of the creative and digital economies in rural contexts are explored here and, as in policy the two are often conflated, focus on the relationship between them.
People, place and fish: exploring the cultural meanings of inshore fishing through photography and performance
Julie Urquhart (University of Greenwich, UK)
Tim Acott (University of Greenwich, UK)
Increasing emphasis is being placed on understanding the social value of fisheries and ensuring these are incorporated into policy and management approaches. Further, with the green paper on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy putting forward the recommendation for a differentiated management regime with the inshore sector being focused on social objectives, it is important to evaluate the contribution of inshore fishing to the social and cultural wellbeing of coastal communities. For many fishing dependent communities, fishing is important not just for economic livelihoods, but plays an important social and cultural role in terms of heritage, sense of place, local identity and social cohesion. The paper will report on existing work carried out as part of a European Interreg 4a 2 Seas project: GIFS (Geography of Inshore Fishing and Sustainability) that aims to understand the socio-cultural value of inshore fishing to sense of place. We adopt a qualitative and creative approach through the use of community, researcher and professional photography to understand the diverse landscapes of fishing across the region. Through photography we want to capture how these landscapes are shaping the practice of fishing and how they influence the character and identity of those places. The photographs will be displayed in community exhibitions and used as a research tool to undercover, through community discussion groups, what fishing means to people who live and work in fishing places. They will be run in association with a community performance/story telling project. We suggest that such a co-constructionist account of the relationship between sea and land can provide a starting point for understanding the cultural landscape that emerges as a result of fishing.