Creative Cities

Creative cities

Peter Hirshberg hosts a panel on cities as creative hubs joined by Nora Abousteit (Kollabora), Gideon Schmerling (Municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo), Gary Shapiro (Consumer Electronics Association) and Jenn Sander (Burning Man Project).

Jenn Sander shows a clip introducing Burning Man, a yearly festival in the desert of Nevada that creates a temporary, user-generated city. The festival program is created by its 7000 participants. The organizers just set the framework to provide an open space for experimentation.

Gideon Schmerling compares Tel Aviv to Burning Man, as it is a kind of startup city: People came to the desert a hundert years ago and wanted to create a utopian city. Today, Tel Aviv continues to attract the creative class and has a very young population.

How do you turn a city into a creative hub?

Can you create another Silicon Valley? Everyone wants to be like Silicon Valley, Shapiro argues, but no one else will be. However, if some factors are coming together, a similar ecosystem can evolve. When there are successful tech companies like Nintendo and Microsoft in Redmond, you will also have people starting to invest in other companies and start-ups in that area. Another important point and something Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley share is a culture that allows failure and thus supports to take risks.

Nora Abousteit adds that broader industry fails can also have a positive effect as they make space for something new. In the 50s when all the light industries had to move out of New York there was suddenly a lot of empty and cheap real estate that was then inhabitat by artists and creatives. Cities need this kind of diversity and affordable spaces to support innovation.