This paper reports on research on the development of “natural” cultural districts—clusters of cultural resources that emerge in particular neighborhoods as a bottom-up, unplanned process. It uses data on Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Seattle to answer the following questions:
- What social and economic benefits are associated with cultural clusters?
- What are the social mechanisms that connect community benefits to cultural clusters?
- How do we define “natural” cultural districts? Are there particular neighborhood features that foster formation of these cultural clusters?
- Can we distinguish particular types of “natural” cultural districts?
- What kinds of policy interventions are appropriate for different types of districts?
The analysis suggests that although we can demonstrate strong connections between the concentration of cultural assets and a wide variety of social benefits, economic spillover tends to be concentrated in places that are already advantaged. Thus, if we pursue strategies that promote creative placemaking purely as a market-based strategy, the outcomes are likely to increase the already growing gap between prosperous and poor residents and between advantaged and disadvantaged parts of the city.
Date Posted: 07 March 2018