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Deborah Leslie and Shannon Black

In recent years, there has been a great deal of attention to the linkages between creativity and place. Geographers have examined how creative industries are typically clustered in specialized districts that facilitate the development of social networks, providing a variety of creative influences and job opportunities. It is not only the social aspects of place that are important to creativity, but also the material dimensions. Elements of the built environment – such as the design and architecture of buildings – are important for artist studios, galleries and workshops. Drawing on a case study of the Junction – a visual arts district in Toronto – we examine the shift of artists, galleries and related institutions to the area. We foreground tensions the art community confronts and responses to precarity within the community.

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Deborah Leslie and Norma M. Rantisi

Cultural industries have seen tremendous growth in recent years as a source of revenue and employment. This growth has sparked an interest among policymakers and researchers about what constitutes cultural industries, and the socio-spatial dynamics that underpin the innovation process within such industries. In this chapter, we follow Allen J. Scott in defining cultural industries as activities that produce goods and services valued for their symbolic and aesthetic qualities relative to their utilitarian ones, and we examine the nature of innovation within these industries, given the significance of aesthetic content as a distinguishing feature. In particular, we focus on the need for symbolic knowledge – that is, the knowledge of contemporary cultural currents – as a unique element of the innovation process, and we explore the bases and challenges for the production of such knowledge. In exploring the production of symbolic knowledge, we review some of the established literature that cites the innovation process as an inherently collective one, but we also identify elements that have been, to date, under-examined in the literature in order to broaden out current analyses of the social foundations of innovation. At the same time, our chapter considers some of the key challenges that firms and workers in these industries face, particularly in light of recent structural and technological changes, and the delicate balance between aesthetic and commercial considerations that must be attained. We highlight initiatives that can help to foster more conducive settings for innovation, with particularly emphasis on forms of support and spaces that can shelter cultural workers from risk, mediating rising commercial and technological pressures and fostering experimentation and exchange.

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Deborah Leslie, Norma Rantisi and Jessie Smith

Social circus is a unique form of social intervention that uses circus arts to work with youth and other disadvantaged groups. In this paper, we explore social circus in Montreal, with a particular focus on the work that the Cirque du Soleil has been doing in its social circus programme, Cirque du Monde. We explore the objectives of this programme, which are to assist individuals to become ‘active citizens’. The emphasis on cultivating neoliberal subjectivities raises questions about the instrumental nature of the programme. However, we suggest that social circus also has characteristics that can lead to the development of a potentially transformative politics and space, and examine forms of support that could develop spaces that would enhance this potential.