Edited by Ruth Towse
Chapter 21: Cultural Districts
Walter Santagata Creating cultural districts is an example of an economic policy that has been extremely successful in bringing together culture, managerial creativity and industrial design. These special industrial and artisan agglomerations are the subject of this chapter, as they are an example of how culture and creativity can be the moving force in sustainable local economic development (OECD, 2005). Developing systems of micro and small enterprises or concentrating business activities whose products and aims are similar are phenomena that are generally well situated in time and space, as they depend on the birth and evolution of material culture and the production of goods and services that have delineated an environmental and cultural habitat in a geographical area. The ancient writings of Mediterranean, Oriental and Asian civilizations, and the chronicles of medieval Europe, provide a wealth of examples of concentrations of micro enterprises that over time evolved into potential or real industrial districts. Some types of cultural district in fact correspond to industrial systems where small firms produce material culture’s traditional goods (textiles, ceramics, jewellery, designer objects and so on), while in others the emphasis is on offering services rather than goods (museum districts, production systems for the performing arts and folklore) and on a less cohesive form of agglomeration between the participating firms (historical heritage and cultural tourism networks, archaeological sites). Cultural district A cultural district or cluster is a social and economic experience at the confluence of two phenomena: that of localization, as first identified by Alfred Marshall...
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