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Postgraduate Seminar Report

first announcement - programme - presentations - list of participants - report

Cultural Transitions in Southeastern Europe -
The Creative City: Crossing Visions and New Realities in the Region

Inter-University Center (IUC), Dubrovnik, 8-14 May 2006

Supported by the European Cultural Foundation, ECF, Amsterdam

Postgraduate Course Report

This was the sixth in the series of postgraduate courses organized by the Department for Culture and Communication of the Institute for International Relations (IMO), Zagreb. The courses have been held at Inter University Centre (IUC) in Dubrovnik continuously from the year 2000.

The first course was devoted to the Multicultural Contexts of Central European and Mediterranean Regions, and it was followed in 2001 by the course that dealt with the Redefinition of Cultural Identities in Southeastern Europe. The impact of third course entitled Cultural Industries and Technological Convergence concentrated on cultural industries, technological convergence, cultural consumption and on cultural identities in the Southeastern European and Central European countries in transition. In the year 2004 the focus switched to Managing Cultural Transitions: Southeastern Europe. The following year organizers have merged two classical forms of work: conference and postgraduate course. The course concentrated on the impact of creative industries in the region of SEE, and the conference focused on the practical and conceptual issues of the contemporary cultural cooperation in Southeastern Europe. This year's focus was to provide information and education on impacts of creative industries on urban cultural development models and cultural policies, and on regeneration of cities in SEE region. The work plan followed two general orientations: theoretical issues particularly centered on creative city concepts, and presentation of case studies that included cities of Belgrade, Budapest, Dubrovnik, Ljubljana, Podgorica, Skopje, Split, Tirana and Zagreb. The presentation of some research programs went under additional information issues.

The directors of this year's course were Nada Švob-Đokić, Institute for International Relations, Zagreb, Croatia, and Milena Dragićević-Šešić, University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia. This years' project was realized with the help of European Cultural Foundation (ECF), Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, British Council – Croatia, City of Dubrovnik, and the Association of the Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities.

The postgraduate course gathered thirty-nine lecturers and postgraduate students, and was held through six work days in the premises of Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik. The schedule comprised morning and afternoon sessions that included sixteen lectures and workshops, and three presentations of projects. Unofficial program included visits to Art Radionica Lazareti, visit to Museum of Modern Art and excursion to Elafiti islands.

At the beginning of the Introductory session Director of British Council-Croatia, Adrian Chadwick, greeted the participants and expressed his content that British Council is a partner in this project, bearing in mind the involvement of UK in promoting creative industries. Nada Švob-Đokić, Director of the course, presented project's short historical background and a conceptual overview of the program. After a short presentation of this year's course topics and aims, the participants introduced themselves, their current interests in the course and their expectations from the course.

The first presentation was devoted to the case study of the city of Zagreb and entitled 'Zagreb – Urban Cultural Identities and City Growth'. Nada Švob-Đokić showed that the city of Zagreb is culturally rather homogenous. Multicultural note to the city is detected in the presence of 'old' minorities (Serbs, Jews, Roma, Slovenians, Czechs, Hungarians, and others), and strengthened by foreign migrants of other nationalities. Their number is rather low. The only larger migrant community in Zagreb is the Chinese community. The Chinese are not coming to Croatia directly from China, but from Hungary, other ex-Yugoslav republics, or other neighboring countries.

There are special program lines for the culture projects of the traditional minority communities in Croatia. Their interest in specific cultural programs is not very vivid, and particuliarities of their cultures in the city culture are not very visible. Expressions of cultural diversity on the city level do not hallmark the Zagreb cultural life; different groups tend to integrate into the city culture, and such integration is presently going on within the ever more expressed metropolitan role of Zagreb. As the city of Zagreb has been growing rather quickly, the homogeneous nature of its cultural identity is preserved and strengthened by the fact that most immigrants are of Croatian origin, and coming to the city from other parts of ex-Yugoslavia.

The following presentation was devoted to the case study of the city of Tirana entitled 'TI-RAMA: My Creative City' in which Fatjon Dragoshi presented the changes in the city that were mainly caused by the work of the mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama - pronounced 'World Mayor' in the year 2004. Artist by his background, with city budget of, what he likes to call 'Nothing comma something' Edi Rama decided to make immediate visible changes. The coloring of the facades of the buildings (so called 'rainbow treatment') and the destructions of 'famous' kiosks have changed the atmosphere in the city, and in a way, made a trademark of it. He also introduced the business organizations as actors in the city regeneration. With many controversial decisions he has not made many friends, but the change in the city is evident. Before these changes, people did not believe in the value of public space and now they are making an effort to claim it again. The success of 'branding' of the city identity came from the fact that Tirana had no specific brand before.

The theme covered by Justin O'Connor was 'From Margin to Centre: The Role of Alternative Cultures in the Creative City'. According to him, culture is central to contemporary city, be it from the view of: 'culture-led regeneration', the 'creative city' concept', or from the view of positioning the importance of creative industries in the city. After putting down the good and bad sides of the mentioned concepts, O'Connor tried to present basic joint characteristics of the three models. He explained why cities were taken into the focus, and why were some cities chosen to focus to rather than others. O'Connor presented Manchester as a successful case of use of culture for the transformation of the image of the city and of the urban landscape. Culture was viewed as 'the new (quick) fix', but it should be mentioned that not every type of such regeneration was successful. When culture was perceived in a highly instrumental way, and as a subject to economic policies, the issue was much more complex. O'Connor stressed that creativity and innovation (modernization) are interpreted as multidimensional processes that tend to exclude problems and difficulties, which nevertheless are present. He concluded that cities represent different types of labor divisions including imaginative work, and that we have to find out how these can work with each other.

In her presentation entitled 'The Urban Cultural Policies and Urban Regeneration in Budapest' Krisztina Keresztély tried to examine the measures of public policies which support a sustainable social development. One of the major problems in the city of Budapest is the public administration. There are four local governments, and that is why it is difficult to create a common urban policy. Different city rehabilitation projects are promoted by each of the local governments. A common problem of the whole city is the gentrification (that is slowly happening since the end of the nineties), decrease of inhabitants in the inner zone of the city, pushing out of the original population and changing neighborhoods. She explained that the flagship projects of urban rehabilitation such as TRAFÓ, Inner Ferencváros and Middle- Ferencváros did not include programs of social integration. In conclusion, Keresztély noted that projects related to the cultural, social or physical aspects of urban rehabilitation are independent one from the other. There is still no coordination between cultural, urban and social policies of local municipalities. Consequently, the methods of cultural intervention for socially sustainable development are still not defined.

'Cityscape and Cinema', presentation by Nevena Daković, dealt with the overview of contemporary film production in Serbia. She stated that there are four types of film production in Serbia: the European co productions/europuddling and Euroimage stories; the no budget (experimental and buddy-buddy movies); mainstream or A production movies; and commercial quickies. The funding background of these movies is divided between the Ministry (firm criteria), the City (loose criteria), technical participation of RTV (Radio-Television of Serbia) and Euroimage. Different sources of funding are reflected in the choice of topics that particular funder chooses. The firm but rather controversial selection criteria of the Ministry resulted in the fact that no feature film was funded in the year 2004 and 2005. The funding for script development resulted in support of mainly urban 'middle European' topics, while films that were funded by the Euroimage preferred Balkan exotic at its best. In this rather difficult situation of the film production in Serbia, one positive thing emerged, and that is the creation of the so-called 'New Belgrade school' of young film directors whose films depict urban escapism, and which are rich in postmodern saturated text. As a cultural industry, the film production affects overall cultural life of Belgrade by supplying new brands that reflect the present transitional phase of city life and regeneration.

Nevena Daković also presented TEMPUS JEP ADAM project entitled 'Assisting Democracy - Reconceptualising Postgraduate Programs in Art and Media' whose main beneficiary is the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. Aims of the project are re-conceptualization of the curriculum of the MA and PhD studies at the Group for Art and Media Studies, establishment of Long Distance Learning (LDL) system, and the implementation of the Bologna standards.

After speaking briefly about the beginning of Comedia and its' projects Charles Landry gave a lecture on 'Creative Cities and City Regeneration'. He stressed the importance of the 'creative ecosystem' that is essential to the building of a creative city. The cities we like are mostly the cities we cannot make any more due to urban planning rules. City is an emotional experience, Landry stresses, while on the other hand urban planners like a certainty that is not present in creativity. What often occurs is the pumping of desire for shopping and spending in the cities – what he calls the 'geography of desire and blandness'. We have to create conditions for talent in the cities, and in this way we have to make a change in thinking: We have to start making creative cities FOR the world and not IN the world. It is enough to make a network of small projects that makes a big one, it is not necessary to make a major project immediately. The condition for making a successful creative city project is making it more like on the basis of a jazz band session rather than a symphonic orchestra exercise. He also stresses that 'environmental psychology' needs to be included more in the urban project making. For Landry, urbanity means having a space that stimulates and that has tranquility at the same time.

Inga Tomić-Koludrović and Mirko Petrić gave two presentations; the first one on 'New Cultural Tourists in a South East European City: The Case of Split' in which they presented results from the survey they made on tourists in Split. They noted that in Split, rather than in other cities, there is a visible change in the profiles of tourists coming to Croatia. The tourists in Split are searching for the 'total experience', not only physical products anymore. Tomić-Koludrović and Petrić note that these are 'new type of tourists' and not 'cultural tourists' or 'post tourists' (the former searching for diversity, and the latter being the ones that make no difference between tourism, entertainment or lifestyle). These tourists are interested in 'culture' in a wider sense of word (Williams), they are interested in public space (where everyday life takes place) and they want to be absorbed in the urban structure and be a part of the authentic 'scene'. One could say that unlike mass tourists that have everything planned in advance, and belong to the so-called 'hard tourism', these tourists belong to 'soft tourism' – individual, spontaneous, driven by personal interest, and in a way ambivalent. Bauman would say that the ambivalence is a fundamental trait of modernity. One could call these tourists 'postmodern cultural tourists' although this definition is still debatable due to the difficulties with the definition of postmodernism. These 'postmodern cultural tourists' come to Split mainly to see Diocletian's palace, cultural monuments, to visit restaurants with authentic local cuisine, and to experience everyday life of the city. These facts are important in the creative cities context because cities are becoming more important in a globalised, that is, glocalised world (Robertson). As Beck stresses, local politicians should strive to reaffirm the identity of their cities. Tourists want a 'practicised' city: a city should be (re)created by tourists and the local population and not used just as a channel for placement of creative industries products.

The second presentation by Tomić-Koludrović and Petrić dealt with 'Creative Economy in a Mixed Society: Approaches to Measuring its Potential' in which they examined the existing models of cultural industries, creative industries, creative economy, and creative class in relation to the SEE region. They find 'audit of cultural resources' as a method adaptable to the region. However, the question is whether it is possible that one model should cover all the countries and their diversities in the 'SEE region'? That is why Tomić-Koludrović and Petrić are advocating the 'city' approach to problems of the sector in the region. Societies of the countries in transition are not ideal-typical 'postindustrial societies' (Daniel Bell) nor 'postindustrial modernized societies' (Ulrich Beck), but they are rather 'mixed societies' – having traditional structures, but encountering globalization processes. Tomić-Koludrović stressed that in Croatia there are two modernization processes going on simultaneously. Therefore 'mixed societies' is a better definition of what is at work: transition goes 'from-to', while for 'mixed societies' what we start from is the outcome of the analysis. As Bauman would say, one should further study mixed societies to be able to interpret them.

The presentation 'Developing the Dubrovnik City Cultural Strategy' by Ana Žuvela Bušnja was devoted to the overview of the current situation of the cultural sector in Dubrovnik. After underlining the importance of the single official strategic document on culture in Croatia 'Croatia in the 21st Century', she underlined that little has been done about further amending and implementing the proposed strategy text. It is intriguing that, provoked by the delay of de-centralization, independent organization Clubture started an initiative for the decentralization. In this line, an NGO from Dubrovnik, Art Workshop Lazareti is working on the strategic document for the city of Dubrovnik. For a city of its' size, Dubrovnik has a significant number of cultural institutions and programs, the percentage spent on the budget for culture is somewhat higher than in other Croatian cities, but it should be underlined that on average 90% of the cultural institution's budget is spent on salaries and maintenance costs. Although it is constantly stressed that culture is central asset of the city of Dubrovnik, it is usually neglected in the context of urban strategies. In such a situation, the NGOs are taking over the initiative to elaborate the city cultural strategy. All these questions are paramount in a city where the current mayor states that 'tourism is Dubrovnik's main industry'.

The presentation by Ivana Jašić dealt with the topic 'City on a Global Market – Territorial Marketing Strategies'. The strategies of territorial marketing as used in the positioning of a city/place/region on the global market were presented. These strategies are to be described as a vehicle for 'translation' of local resources into marketable and visually stimulating language that can communicate local values to the global market. From the start, the debate was orientated towards global causes for territorial competitiveness in the market, the territorial marketing answers to it, the main goals in competition and strategies implied. In presenting the typical marketing tools and techniques Jašić showed valorization of territorial resources from the point of view of the cultural capital, with the special emphasis on the Palmers' evaluation study of the European cultural capitals. Case–study strategic marketing documents (propositions, contributions, guides and manuals) presenting the sectoral (culture, tourism) developmental strategies were given to participants for a review in relation to their territories/cities of origin: Dubrovnik, Split, Rijeka, Zagreb, as well as in relation to their private/public design. These documents were approached in comparison to similar EU manuals and plans (Italian example) where comparison is aimed at assuring their marketability, financing, and their authenticity. The conclusive part of presentation stressed the contribution of territorial marketing strategies to the design/visibility, potential for branding and general planning of the territory. These strategies are aimed at communication of territorial resources as 'values' in the new global economy.

Milena Dragićević-Šešić gave a lecture on 'Urban Cultural Policies and Development of Creative Industries', with the special emphasis on the case of Belgrade and its' creative industries. She outlined some historical facts about the creative sector in Belgrade and its' development. As considering the current cultural policy traits they are too routinized, sectorialized and concentrated on institutions, and in this way static. In this line, the tasks for the city public policies are: (re)defining city identity, based on: collective memories of people, cultural heritage (built and intangible), and on the vision of future. For this to be achieved a consensus among main political agents and public opinion makers has to be achieved.

When looking at the CI sector in Belgrade, one has to note that small private firms (bookstores, galleries, etc.) and NGOs are oriented towards cultural/artistic market, and they want governmental assistance in approaching customers, resources and other organizations. They need more information, training in skills that are needed in transition from protectionist to open market system. Regarding work space, their perception of their own position is not realistic: they want more space at lower rates of subsidized loans or rents. This means that in reconstructing an old industrial site or constructing a new building for CI, huge assistance would be needed from local institutions and banks. To make such projects sustainable, CI people should be encouraged to widen their market and trained to operate under more competitive conditions.

At the beginning of her presentation 'Forces and Trends that Shape Contemporary City – Creative Sector in Creative Cities' Žaklina Gligorijević gave a historical overview of the importance of the public space for the development of a city. She underlined some key examples of the successful public spaces, and what are the reasons for their success: accessibility, comfort, providing people with activities, and sociability in their core. After giving an overview of trends in urban development on the examples of New York, Bilbao, Barcelona, Providence, etc, Gligorijević concentrated on the city of Belgrade, asking if some of the lessons from other cities can be used in its' context. Gligorijević started approaching the subject from the urban recycling method that she was involved in, in Belgrade of the nineties'. Some of the projects were successfully implemented, but unfortunately, there is no overall strategy for urban recycling in Belgrade. The reason why there is no recycling strategy implementation comes from several reasons: transition, ownership problems, market driven development; rigid regulations, lack of cultural policies; lack of legal tools and mechanisms for (at least temporary) use of the existing structures; and the fear of misuse or destruction. In conclusion one should stress that there is still a lot of work to be done in Belgrade in order to turn it into a true creative city.

Dona Kolar-Panov, Violeta Simjanovska and Katerina Mojančevska presented the example of the 'City Regeneration Policies and Practices. Case Study: Skopje'. After a brief outline of the social, political and economic image of the city, they enumerated major problems in the city regeneration policies encountered by the national and local institutions, NGO sector and the private sector. A special emphasis was given to the analysis of the NGO sector in Macedonia. Cultural industries are seen as an important sector for culture-centered city development and regeneration. The municipal authorities should recognize the role culture plays in economic revitalization and in addressing current multiethnic and multicultural realities, as well as recognize the contribution culture can make to social integration and emancipation. Any cultural policy created in future should support more than the 'high arts' and local governments should begin to be interested in popular and youth culture and in the cultural industries. Only through cooperation and understanding between all the players involved and through the development of strategies for cultural industries that build alliances between business and culture, an effective cultural policy can be created and implemented, a policy that will provide for a better cultural future not only for Skopje but also for Macedonia. At the end of their presentation a short movie 'A Portrait of the Young Artist in the 21st Century' by Macedonian filmmaker Borjan Zafirovski was shown to illustrate an artists' view of the Macedonian cultural scene.

Another city case study was offered by Maja Breznik, who presented the changes in the city of Ljubljana in her lecture 'The Role of Culture in the Strategies of City Regeneration'. The erosion of the city's functions and atmosphere occurred as part of an urban plan. Urban planners see Ljubljana's highways as 'circulation of blood' through organism, and therefore the main institutions and shopping malls are put alongside. The critical points of cultural productions in Ljubljana are: local community centres, that are rather marginal; youth centers, those that are taking care mainly of children up to ten years old, and not other youth groups (e.g. Metelkova, that produces 40% of all music concerts in Ljubljana); ethnic minorities' activities, that are rather marginalized (e.g., in 'Delo' the daily newspaper, there are no announcements for their activities). The orientation to creativity, Breznik stressed, implies concepts of city regeneration, creative industries and creative class. She contested Florida's definition of creative class, and called for its' reevaluation. After the critical examination of the Ljubljana case, Breznik stresses that in the strategies of city regeneration culture is, unfortunately, seen through the de-politicization of society; gentrification; and the growth of economic and social tensions.

Examples from Slovenia were also used as an illustration in presentation by Aldo Milohnić entitled 'Culture in the Age of Economic Rationality. On City Regeneration and City Privatization'. At the beginning he stressed how recently a fierce debate opened the topic of relationship between culture and economy in Slovenia, where several young economists asked for revaluation of investments in culture. Their requirement was that culture should offer convincing arguments (meaning acceptable to economists) proving the benefits of culture for society as a whole, and for the economy in particular. Milohnić stressed the danger of such thinking, and he gave a historical overview of some of the key texts for the understanding of this topic. In the end he concluded with Christopher Madden's words: 'Art and culture are not means to economic ends (as advocated by 'economic' impact arguments), but the economy is a means to artistic and cultural ends.'

In her presentation 'Changes in Cultural Strategies: Cultural Workers' Views' Jaka Primorac offered a preliminary data on her research project CPRA 2005 'The Position of Cultural Workers in Creative Industries'. The research is based on interviews with cultural workers in creative industries in SEE, in the context of research on the current position of creative industries in Southeastern Europe. There are three different models of the strategies of cultural workers that can be deciphered: those that ask for a radical change of the system; those that think that the changes should be made, but some positive features of the system should stay; and those that have an orientation towards global market. In the context of the urban surroundings that are influencing their work, one can note that there are those that like metropolitan buzz as an inspiration and basis for their work (cities such as Belgrade and Zagreb), and there are those who like smaller cities such as Podgorica and Split for the quality of life lived in them although they lack the (cultural) infrastructure. All in all, cultural workers perceive the need for the overall strategy for the development of the cultural field: the need for the changes of the existing structures and institutions, the necessity for the strict criteria and the transparent evaluation and funding, regulation of the piracy, and the law regarding the discipline; the need for the admitting the sector changes towards the market; the need for the changes in the statistics so that the evaluation of the field would be better; the alteration of the attitude towards the field of culture; and education of cultural managers, and cultural producers, Jaka Primorac concluded.

Janko Ljumović spoke on 'Cultural Industries in Podgorica' and gave a short introduction on how the 'Creative Podgorica' project started with the impulse of the British Council Serbia and Montenegro, under the UKSEE Creative Industries strand. Until now a short research was made, as well as booklet with data on creative industries in Podgorica and a conference on the same topic. As a 'wrap up' of the project, a film of the same title was prepared, that was showed in the continuation of the presentation.

Lidia Varbanova gave two short presentations, one being the presentation of LabForCulture project, and the other presentation entitled 'Our Creative Cities Online: Making Connections, Improving Visibility and Sharing Knowledge' that dealt with the online data on the creative cities. Generally, considering creative cities online one can note that there is an absence of online classification of the terminology linked with the creative cities, and of relevant online artistic and creative images to reflect the creative city concept. There is no lively vibrant website to accommodate creative cities research and practice, and there are no forums and debates online on the topics, no community groups or email lists found. Creative cities concept for Southeastern Europe is absent and presentation of cities are done from the tourist point of view - there is little creativity in individual websites about cities. The presentations of concert halls, theatres, galleries are static - they give addresses and events only. There is an absence of artistic profiles and creative processes, as well as a poor visibility of the websites in some cases, (examples of Sofia, Belgrade). In this respect one should stress that there is a lot of work to be done on the creative cities online.

In conclusion, this years' course presented nine case studies from the region, showing a diversity of problems and solutions. Numerous discussions among participants underlined key problems of the urban cultural policies, and of the (lack of) city regeneration policies in SEE. The deficiency of training of public administrators on these issues has also been stressed, as well as the lack of education programs for cultural managers in the creative industries. The cultural institutions are still in a bad condition, and their administration and program management is rather static. The funding for these institutions is spent on salaries and buildings rather than on cultural programs. Preservation of the status quo in the ministries prevents better programming and more efficient funding. Culture is far from becoming a central point of city regeneration, and there is an evident absence of city cultural policies and strategies. In many countries of the region culture has been and still is perceived as consumption, rather than production potential. Theoretically, creative industries may be seen as central for the change of attitudes, but then different approaches and models should be analyzed and tested, which is not the case in SEE. Fast growth of local cities demands more profiled and more professionalized policy responses that are able to reach beyond a purely instrumental view of the role of culture in city development and regeneration. It is obvious that the whole issue is new and challenging for the SEE cities, but also that responses and efforts are few and often inadequate.

Jaka Primorac


Institute for International Relations
Institute for International Relations
Inter-University Centre
European Cultural Foundation
British Council