This paper deals with a critical in depth analysis of the role of culture and creativity in reshaping urban structures and functions in a Mediterranean city (Catania, Italy). In particular, the work is focused, on the one hand, on an overview of the ‘institutional’ narratives about the (supposed) emerging creative practices local elites have identified in the so-called ‘emotional’ city. Through this label, as well as in other contemporary crisis-ridden cities, they have been recently trying to rebrand the urban imagery using art and culture in order to attract exogenous investments and tourist flows, particularly in the already revitalised historical neighbourhoods, once decayed and abandoned. This could be also considered as an attempt local elites are trying to develop to replicate the experience and recapture the spirit of the 90s when culture, as well as in other European metropolitan and industrial centres, played both a material and symbolic role in revitalising the physical and social fabric of the city. Even though Catania cannot be described as an industrial city which was trying a redirection towards a service-economy, the years of the cultural regeneration represented a period of emergence from the dark years of mafia attacks and rebirth of its traditional entrepreneurial spirit. A soft regeneration model was inagurated that managed, in those years, to revitalise and recreate the historical centre as a space of social inclusion and aggregation. The most recent institutional discourses on the ‘emotional city’ are not by chance sponsored by the same mayor that has been recognised as the initiator of the cultural regeneration during the 90s. On the other hand, the paper aims at discussing the narratives and discourses of the culture-based place branding policies in the light of the actual and current development of the creative and cultural activities within the city. To achieve this aim, the work is based on an in depth quali-quantitative analysis of current cultural production and consumption practices in Catania. This implies the identification and selection of those that represent cultural hubs within the city, ranging from the most traditional theatres or art galleries to the more innovative ones (foundations’ exhibition spaces, multifunctional creative centres combining culture with restoration etc…). Furthermore, the analysis includes also some bottom-up and participatory practices of cultural production (such as squatted theatres), increasingly developed during the last years of austerity. Inserted within the theoretical framework of urban studies focused on art and creativity as drivers of city (re)development and rebranding, the paper is based on a methodological approach combining quantitative analysis, aimed at providing an analytical index of cultural production and consumption, with more qualitative methods encompassing interviews, questionnaires and focus groups with cultural providers, institutional players and stakeholders.

The emotional city: narratives and practices of cultural policies in a Mediterranean city

PETINO, GIANNI;RUGGIERO, LUCA;Graziano T.
2016

Abstract

This paper deals with a critical in depth analysis of the role of culture and creativity in reshaping urban structures and functions in a Mediterranean city (Catania, Italy). In particular, the work is focused, on the one hand, on an overview of the ‘institutional’ narratives about the (supposed) emerging creative practices local elites have identified in the so-called ‘emotional’ city. Through this label, as well as in other contemporary crisis-ridden cities, they have been recently trying to rebrand the urban imagery using art and culture in order to attract exogenous investments and tourist flows, particularly in the already revitalised historical neighbourhoods, once decayed and abandoned. This could be also considered as an attempt local elites are trying to develop to replicate the experience and recapture the spirit of the 90s when culture, as well as in other European metropolitan and industrial centres, played both a material and symbolic role in revitalising the physical and social fabric of the city. Even though Catania cannot be described as an industrial city which was trying a redirection towards a service-economy, the years of the cultural regeneration represented a period of emergence from the dark years of mafia attacks and rebirth of its traditional entrepreneurial spirit. A soft regeneration model was inagurated that managed, in those years, to revitalise and recreate the historical centre as a space of social inclusion and aggregation. The most recent institutional discourses on the ‘emotional city’ are not by chance sponsored by the same mayor that has been recognised as the initiator of the cultural regeneration during the 90s. On the other hand, the paper aims at discussing the narratives and discourses of the culture-based place branding policies in the light of the actual and current development of the creative and cultural activities within the city. To achieve this aim, the work is based on an in depth quali-quantitative analysis of current cultural production and consumption practices in Catania. This implies the identification and selection of those that represent cultural hubs within the city, ranging from the most traditional theatres or art galleries to the more innovative ones (foundations’ exhibition spaces, multifunctional creative centres combining culture with restoration etc…). Furthermore, the analysis includes also some bottom-up and participatory practices of cultural production (such as squatted theatres), increasingly developed during the last years of austerity. Inserted within the theoretical framework of urban studies focused on art and creativity as drivers of city (re)development and rebranding, the paper is based on a methodological approach combining quantitative analysis, aimed at providing an analytical index of cultural production and consumption, with more qualitative methods encompassing interviews, questionnaires and focus groups with cultural providers, institutional players and stakeholders.
Cultural policies; Creativity; Rebranding
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/107136
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