Theories of urban creative clusters focus on proximity benefits and resulting positive externalities. Overlooked in an era of heightened global, financialized real estate investments is how agglomeration tendencies intersect with unfolding urban land use changes and accompanying conversion of industrial space for residential redevelopment. This paper draws attention to the contingent, on-the-ground space needs of cultural, creative and “maker” enterprises amidst growing tensions with renewal projects targeting industrial land. Fueled by speculative investment, valuation algorithms, and taxation schemes that reward upzoning of industrial-zoned land for densification, financialized real estate projects undermine existing concentrations of creative industries and cultural manufacturing, displacing firms and workers. Yet contradictorily, other locations evolve new cluster characteristics, as residential redevelopments reduce the overall stock of available, suitably-zoned space for inner-city enterprises. Precincts that appear, prima facie, as archetypal urban creative clusters are thus also “clusters of last resort,” as global property market dynamics in concert with local rezonings and real estate investment decisions eradicate locational alternatives. In this talk, I will illustrate empirically from a precinct in inner-city Sydney, Australia displaying benefits of clustering, but only as a by-product of wider forces evicting firms from industrial lands elsewhere. The Carrington Road precinct – now arguably the city’s last, and most significant, urban manufacturing and creative industries cluster – is itself subject to a rezoning proposal for extensive high-rise apartment development. Policy-makers keen to promote culture and creativity and their intersections with material manufacture must transcend the rhetoric of the potential benefits of spatial clusters, to contemplate necessary measures to enforce quarantining of remaining inner-city industrial lands from speculative real estate redevelopment.
Chris Gibson is Professor of Human Geography and Executive Director of the Global Challenges Program at the University of Wollongong, Australia. His research interests focus on geographical dimensions of cultural industries, festivals, and more recently, urban manufacturing. In 2013, he was the lead consultant and expert contributor to the United Nations Creative Economy Report: Widening Development Pathways. His books include Sound Tracks: Popular Music, Identity and Place(2003), Music Festivals and Regional Development in Australia (2012), Surfing Places, Surfboard Makers: Craft, Creativity and Cultural Heritage in Hawai’i, California and Australia (2014) and Creativity in Peripheral Places: Redefining the Creative Industries (2016). With long-term collaborator, Andrew Warren, he is finalising a forthcoming book “following” guitars from factory to sawmills and forests, to be published by the University of Chicago Press.
DATE: 5th June, Wednesday
VENUE: Monash University, Caulfield Campus, Building E, Room E224, Level 2
REGISTRATION LINK: https://chrisgibson.eventbrite.com.au
This talk is being co-organised with Monash Urban Planning and Design (MUPD)