This paper draws upon findings from a 3 year creative industries study to examine the enabling role played by the natural environment in terms of local creativity. In so doing, it challenges creative cities orthodoxy, as represented by high profile figures such as Richard Florida, which tends to focus on large, densely-populated post-industrial urban centres of the global North.
To do this, it draws on a discussion of Darwin, an urban yet isolated tropical-savannah location in the north of Australia which the local government wants to promote as a ‘creative city’. Darwin is unique among Australian capitals, not just on account of its significant distance from other major urban centres and tropical location. What clearly emerges in discussion with Darwin’s creative practitioners is that the natural environment is seen as fundamental to local creativity. Darwin’s unique climate, proximity to the sea and South East Asia, seasonal rhythms, the relative dearth of indoor spaces and the emphasis on outdoor festivals, not to mention markets and performances during the dry season, all means that nature figures strongly as an inspiration for creativity.
Darwin reminds us that there is a lot more to creativity than critical mass, global companies and a constant rubbing together with other creative industry practitioners (whether or not you want to). It reminds us that creativity has long also been deeply connected to space for reflection and nature as a source of inspiration. This points to a more complex relationship between culture and nature than has been acknowledged in much policy and industry discourse regarding the knowledge economy, yet this has been rarely addressed beyond a focus on street-scaping and parklands in much of the thinking on creative cities.
|Keywords:||Creative Industries, Creative Cities, Tropical Cities, Creativity, Work/Life Balance, Darwin, Australia, Environment|
Senior Lecturer and Research Portfolio Leader, School of Communication and Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
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