THE CREATIVE ECONOMY THROUGH THE LENS OF URBAN RESILIENCE. AN ANALYSIS OF ROMANIAN CITIES.

AuthorMazilu, Sorin
  1. Introduction

    Since its first development, two decades ago (Howkins, 2001), the creative economy has generated interest for an increasing number of specialists from various fields (economics, business and management, law, policy studies, organization studies, geography, sociology and psychology etc), as well as from world-known organizations, concerned with its potential in promoting growth, prosperity and well-being in regional and national economies (United Nations, 2018a, 2010, 2008; UNESCO, 2013; Dovey and Pratt, 2016). At its core, the creative economy comprises economic activities which capitalize creativity through intellectual property rights that form the creative industries. Although there is no generally accepted definition regarding the specific activities included in this sector, one of the most referred to approaches is provided by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which states that creative industries are 'those industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property' (DCMS, 2001, p. 5). The importance attached to creativity within the creative sector is advocated by scholars such as Richard Florida ('human creativity is the ultimate economic resource', Florida, 2002, p. xiii), while others have stressed that 'the industries of the twenty-first century will depend increasingly on the generation of knowledge through creativity and innovation' (Landry and Bianchini, 1995, p. 4). From an economic perspective, the discourse on the creative economy has been continuously diversified, aiming to capture the complex reality in which creativity intertwined with different aspects of growth and development. Consequently, related concepts have also emerged, which linked together the creative economy to cluster theory (Boix et al., 2011; Lazzeretti, Boix and Capone, 2009; Bagwell, 2008), cities (Hosu and Hosu, 2019; Oliveira and Paulino, 2017; Kourtit, 2019; Landry, 2012; Sepe, 2009; Cooke and Lazzeretti, 2007), and policy (Doyle, 2015; Tafel-Viia and Lassur, 2013), amongst others. The proliferation of theoretical and empirical studies on this topic was accompanied by the rising awareness of national and supranational groups, which elaborated policies and strategies with the purpose of supporting the creative sector. In this regard, at the European Union level, for example, several financing instruments were applied for sustaining the cultural and creative sector (Mazilu, 2018, pp. 295-297), among which the Creative Europe programme has received a crucial role (receiving a funding of 1.46 billion EUR for the 2014-2020 period, respectively 1.85 billion EUR for the 2021-2027 period--European Commission, 2018). These measures came as a recognition of the importance of the creative economy's place within the European economy, which accounts for 3.8% of the total employment (Eurostat, 2018), while the cultural enterprises, representing 5% of the total number of firms in the non-financial business economy, generated 192 billion EUR of added value (Eurostat, 2016).

    The multi-faced spectrum of researches about the influence of creative industries within economies ranges from the ones concerning the analysis of the relation between the creative economy and development, including its economic impact (Boix-Domenech and Rausell-Koster, 2018; Hong and Chen, 2017; Boccella and Salerno, 2016), to the ones which focus on revealing the prerequisites that may explain their spatial distribution, formation or dynamics (Kourtit and Nijkamp, 2018, 2016; Martinaityte and Kregzdaite, 2015), as well as the involved workforce (sometimes referred to as the creative class--Florida, 2014; O'Brien et al., 2016). However, while acknowledging that there is a Virtuous circle'--bidirectional causality--between growth and creative economy (Marco-Serrano, Rausell-Kosterb and Abeledo-Sanchisc, 2014), and that 'regions with high concentrations of creative and cultural industries have Europe's highest prosperity levels' (Power, 2011, p. 5), there is still a lack of evidence dealing with creative industries' capacity to affect the anticipating, resisting, and recovering capabilities of the economies (at local, regional and national level) in dealing with various shocks or crises, through resilience.

    In the case of Romania, most of the researches analyzing the domestic specificities of the creative economy aimed to identify their dimension and spatial distribution (Sava and Badulescu, 2018; Pintilii et al., 2017; Motoiu, Pavel and Lakatos, 2016; Stoian et al., 2014; Bobirca and Draghici, 2011; Ivanovici and Mandruleanu, 2009), to uncover the transformations induced by the creative industries to entrepreneurship and business environment (Hrib, 2018; Istudor, 2018; Volintiru and Miron, 2015), or to depict the mutations driven by innovation and new technologies to the field (Popescu et al., 2019; Leovaridis and Bahna, 2017). In addition, several national development agencies have conducted studies at regional level (e.g. CIVITTA Romania, 2019; ADR--Centru, 2016), which along with other case studies (Isfanescu-Ivan, 2018; Asociatia Cluj-Napoca 2021 Capitala Culturala Europeana, 2014), offered a better picture on the sector at regional or city level. But the Romanian creative industries' relation with resilience remained insufficiently addressed, which may be detrimental from a strategic point of view if we take into account that the creative economy has shown a spectacular rise in interest, as well as a sustained growth of turnover in recent years (Network of European Museum Organisations, 2019).

    Considering the reasons stated before, our paper aims to examine the capacity of creative industries to act as a bulwark against economic crises. In particular, the paper looks at the Romanian cities over the Great Recession and explores the role that creative industries play in buffering the economic shock (resistance), as well as their importance for recovery in the aftermath of shocks.

    The remainder of the paper includes the following sections. Section 2 discusses the relevance of considering the urban resilience for deepening the understanding of the creative economy's role in development and it formulates the study hypotheses. Sections 3 and 4 present our methodological approach, the econometric models, and data used. Section 5 discusses the empirical findings, while the last section concludes.

  2. Setting up the lens

    As history reveals, the economic growth and development is not a linear, constant process, but its dynamics describe complex patterns, under the influence of the transformations which affect human society and which sometimes depict the efforts to cope with threats, shocks or even crisis, as an expression of what is generally referred to as resilience capacity. The idea is acknowledged by the economic geography's disciples, as well: 'The first defining feature of a 'resilience perspective' on the economic landscape is a recognition that uneven geographical development itself is not some smooth or slowly changing phenomenon, but an inherently shock-prone process, subject to all sorts of disruption, perturbation, and interruption.' (Martin, 2018, p. 4) Although not a new concept, being introduced in the early 1970s, in the field of ecology (Holling, 1973), resilience became a hot topic on interdisciplinary grounds, because of worldwide concerns regarding overcoming adversities, such as natural calamities, economic crises, terrorism, diseases, and other threats which can disturb development and prosperity.

    From the diverse array of definitions trying to explain and adapt resilience's meaning to particular science fields, we can identify approaches that refer it as the amount of disruption that can be absorbed by the system (ecological resilience--Holling, 1973), focusing on keeping functional capacity, while others emphasize on maintaining efficiency (engineered resilience--Pimm, 1984). These show a double hypostasis of resilience--resistance and recovery.

    The acceptations on resilience depend on the level of appliance, as well. Starting from individual level, resilience can be seen as a feature, outcome or process of peoples overcoming crisis situations (Southwick et al., 2014); also, it can be considered at community level, including local, city, regional or national level. As the area of assessment expands, so does the complexity of forces explaining the resilient capacity of a system because this is not always assured by the simple aggregation of the resilience of its smaller components.

    From an economic perspective, a special attention is payed to urban resilience, due to the importance of cities as key engines for growth. It is estimated that by 2030 more than 60 percent of the world population will live in metropolitan areas (United Nations, 2018b), while major cities contribute with significant amounts to their countries' GDPs (e.g. in 2019, Tokyo was the first city in the world, with an estimate of $1.6 trillion GDP--World Economic Forum, 2020). As 'urban resilience can be conceived as a multidisciplinary framework to analyze the reactive, adaptive and transformative capacities of (and within) urban systems' (Olazabal et al., 2012), revealing the factors that explain the shaping of economic resilience at city level could provide clues which will promote sustainability of the cities over time, as they will deal with the ever-changing environment remodeled by a globalized and digitalized world.

    Given the increased interest in explaining the resilience capacity of economies, there are only few studies focusing on the role played by creative industries (Buheji, 2019; Pratt, 2015). Given that they are accounting for around 7 percent of firms, 4 percent of employees, and 3 percent of turnover at national level (2008-2017), studying their importance for explaining...

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