Cidade Baixa: An Analysis of the Territory's Potential As a Creative Hub

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
CLM.B.06 (Clement House)
Lisiane Closs, UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Sidinei Oliveira, UFRGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Christian Tirelli, FADERGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Creativity contributes to a people-centric perspective of development and is an essential asset in the creation of jobs and innovation, favoring social inclusion, cultural diversity and sustainability. Creative Economy’s main asset is creativity towards local generation and global distribution of goods and services with symbolic and economic value. According to Florida, the core element for the growth and development of creative cities and territories is increased productivity associated with the agglomeration of highly qualified and creative people. Developers of public policies have broadly adopted Florida’s thinking, even though it often reproduces simplistic notions of creativity without considering its potential negative impact on inequality, such as the investment of government funds in cultural activities aimed at the elite to make cities more attractive rather than in social well-being, education, health care or support for other creative activities. Despite Brazil’s creative potential, there are major obstacles to its development due to its size and the social, economic, regional and cultural differences between its territories. Thus, new proposals and directions are required to develop of its creative hubs, conceived as groups of creative ventures situated geographically close to each other and restricted to a small territory. The aim of this paper is to analyze the strengths, challenges and limitations of the Cidade Baixa neighborhood set up as a creative hub in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, and understand its interconnected cultural, identity, economic, institutional/organizational and environmental factors. Interviewees were 16 residents and 11 representatives from different segments, the government and the district’s creative establishments. Some of the area’s major advantages are: a) its location, heritage and setting, which combines bars, restaurants and theaters, making it attractive to tourists; b) acceptance of diversity, the convergence of efforts by creative organizations and the interest of residents and entrepreneurs in developing the district as a creative space; c) successful cooperative initiatives between creative entrepreneurs and artists to benefit the community, indicating potential for sustainable development. Its drawbacks include: a) different perceptions of the area’s identity, such as bohemian, a residential neighborhood or as a cultural hub, generating conflict primarily between residents complaining about the party atmosphere and bar owners and events promoters who seek out the area for business purposes; b) lack of communication and the absence of strong ties and coordination in pursuit of common goals between the different stakeholders linked to the creative economy; c) the risk of overvalued real estate in the area and the removal of artists and students to undervalued areas, debasing the very fabric of the district. Obstacles include: a) lack of funding to restore the historic neighborhood and its tangible and intangible heritage, which runs the risk of being lost; b) improving security in the district, a serious problem in most of the country. The study could contribute to planning public policies aimed at the socioeconomic development of Porto Alegre.