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Are Cities Killing Their Creative Edge in the Quest for More Revenue?

As the world's centers of business and politics compete to create ever more lucrative commercial and residential zones, creative spaces are being razed and redeveloped. Is the ability to nurture creativity and diversity being lost in the process?
June 15, 2013, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Jules Antonio

"Youthful, creative spaces are being razed around the world to make way for ritzy apartments, 'kitchy' cafes and manicured public spaces," writes Tom Payne. "In order to appeal to the world’s elite, these cities create new places of consumption at the expense of existing inner city spaces."

"The shabby buildings and public spaces that don’t fit into the glossy and glamorous ideal of what cities should look like also happen to be the last remaining inner city places that young people have to hang out," he adds. "As places of mass consumption are created for people with mass salaries, cities are losing their ability to cater to diversity. Young urban populations are losing important spaces they require to create ideas and build networks."

"I’m not suggesting that gentrification is a plague that must be stopped," says Payne. "Nor am I suggesting that the government should stop investing in the arts. What I am suggesting is that we have the most creative, skilled, able members of society already living in our cities, but the processes of gentrification are jeopardizing young people’s ability to thrive. By losing important sites of collaboration, we’re acting to deprive downtown cores of the diversity that once made them so special. How can cities be cultural icons if they’re culture-less?"

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Published on Monday, June 10, 2013 in Urban Times
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