Great cities engender identity and creativity – the more so if they are lively places of cultural activity. Increasingly, they employ iconic architecture for cultural institutions for image branding purposes or signature elements of urban regeneration schemes. They value and preserve material and immaterial cultural heritage, making it accessible to all citizens and visitors alike, if necessary by devising policies to prevent this heritage from being overrun by massive tourist flows or being hijacked by private business interests. Cities are places of a thriving cultural industry, which includes public libraries and museums, sports and leisure opportunities. Cities also create and protect space for the growth of a local independent arts scene. Taken together, cultural industries allow the formation of a ‘way of life’ characteristic of the city and are thus an important element of place making. Cultural industries are not primarily profit oriented, but public investment in them is an important marker of a city’s quality of life and its international reputation.

Cultural industries, and an attendant appreciation of culture learned through education and frequent exposure to it, are pre-conditions for the growth of creative industries. CCI together are an increasingly important factor of the urban economy. The European Union notes their general significance for innovation: ‘Creative industries are not only innovators themselves but have also been an important driver for innovation [as] they account for increasing inputs in the development of other sectors.’

CCI encourage lateral thinking, i.e. ‘thinking out of the box’ so essential for creating genuinely new knowledge, ideas, products and services. By necessity, they require a social climate of freedom, tolerance and cultural diversity. Ultimately they cannot thrive in a climate of commercialization pressures, or in societies, which consider ‘harmony’ as an end in itself.

“Creative cities are edgy places, where conservative, traditional forces collide with new, radical ideas in a shower of brilliant sparks. Great cities are complex, even disorderly, cosmopolitan communities. (…) Such cities are often overwhelming and intensive environments. But this is often why they are such creative places. After all, it is the irritant of sand in an oyster that produces the pearl.”
(P.D. Smith: City. A Guidebook for the Urban Age. London: Bloomsbury, 2012, p.253)