From Singapore to Montreal, Kowloon to Abu Dhabi, and other cities around the world, creative and cultural districts have emerged as a mean to reenergise ‘hollowed out’ city centres, delivering social dividends and generating knowledge-based economic activities.
Following in the footsteps of innovative and cultural trend-setting hubs such as Portland, Oregon and other inspirational districts in well-loved cities such as Paris and New York, governments have been investing heavily in ‘Portlands’ of their own. Singapore has reportedly invested USD740 million, Hong Kong has invested USD2.76 billion in their West Kowloon district and Abu Dhabi, a portion of an estimated USD27.7 billion.
In some instances, districts have been borne from organic community-based efforts and in others, they have emerged in response to top-down government-led initiatives. While the success of these initiatives are varied, the experience of successful creative and cultural districts tells us that there must be authenticity, that the district must be owned by the city’s citizens and built on local values and identity.
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