Appendix to “Re-imagining the City of Sheffield”

by Prue Chiles

The importance of Creativity and a methodology for re-imagining the city

The political and social think tank Demos’ report in 1995/6, The Creative City (by Franco Bianchini) made clear and simple point that creativity in all its forms is imperative to the successful development of a city. It is the many forms of creativity and how these can be harnessed today that can allow us “to go beyond inherited assumptions and ways of working”

This book was aimed at local councils and public providers:

The demos report listed requirements for success and talked about a need to go against the grain of conventional wisdom and narrow commercial imperatives. They point to the importance of clarity of observation based on the essentials and an appropriateness of purpose. All the ways we want to operate in a democratic people orientated process

The process we are involved in the formation of neighbourhood strategies is acting on these and other prerogatives A collaboration between the neighbourhood groups, The officer support team from the council and independent advisors is a new and at first unpopular.

  1. New ways of talking, breaking down normal debating routes to allow a more open system.
  2. New ways of mapping to define local aspirations, desires, actual and potential problems and trends.
  3. New ways of describing things the traditional language of geography is often inadequate to identify resources such as atmosphere and cultural vibrancy.
  4. New forms of research and development – city governments should encourage experimental and pilot projects, failure should be allowed. – This is one of the most difficult to achieve. New ideas courted and taken seriously.
  5. A new selection process – – Removal of bureaucratic objects and structures that hamper creative thinking.
  6. Monitoring and sharing information.
  7. A sense of direction. – I will come back to this as this is critical in Sheffield.
  8. Finally one of most important strands of that creativity in a city is the interface between the “professionals” and the “participants” in the process of engagement with a community – consultation and participatory urban design

Another aspect of Creativity as a pre- requisite to innovation in changing the city is about judging the timing of the intervention of the professionals – between the needs and desires revealed in the process of consultation and inclusion and when the “professionals” impose their creative ideas and plans. It is this that is at the base of successful regeneration.