Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

The CIED Methodology (Cultural Innovation and Economic Development)

(Part 1 of 2)

developed as

Article 10 – ERDF European Project
Jan. 1997 – April 1999




CIED as an Article 10 – ERDF European Project

As a European project that was co-financed by the European Commission under Article 10 - ERDF, CIED took two matters into consideration:
The dynamic nature inherent in the call for proposals is due to the fact that it entails two very contradictory aspects. On the one hand, there is the demand for innovation in the cultural fields in order to create jobs, while on the other the European Commission expresses concern that further commercialisation leads to ever more destruction of cultural identities in Europe.
Design of the project had to meet needs of local / regional authorities, so as to empower them to come to terms with economic problems by learning to use culture for the articulation of future development prospects.

Consequently CIED proceeded to define five objectives:

  1. 'learn to use, not to abuse culture' when seeking cultural innovation as a way to promote economic development
  2. encourage the utilisation of cultural heritage of peripheral regions
  3. 'develop cultural consensus measures' by favoring the emergence of a real cultural consensus as the basis for decision making 
  4. 'cultural impact studies' as a way forward towards cultural sustainability when assessing not merely the role of culture in planning, but what minimum ethical base must be guaranteed by local authorities when accepting inward investments
  5. 'real needs' shuold be used primarily as orientation when formulating answers to constraints encountered in seeking a way forward.


It is itself an expression of culture as to who enters society by being recognised as active citizen and is allowed to make decisions on behalf of the others;
therefore, advancement in participation in culture leads to democratic practice;
and openness of culture allowing for tolerance of cultural differences and learning through innovation and investments in the future is a benchmark of democracy;
going further, if culture as expression of ‘way of life’, ‘a way of doing things’ reflected in the self-understanding people have of themselves (Adorno), then culture relates to the knowledge people can develop in the light of societal recognition.
This knowledge transmits upon a city a way of life, the standard itself set according to what 'culture of excellence' (Phil Cooke) prevails, in order to make distribution of work and a wise use of resources possible so as to ensure 'quality of work', a shared value with all others, contributes to the competitiveness of city and region.

Since Ancient Greece it is known that through reflections upon historical and economic developments such measures (standards; in Greek ‘metron’) are applied which brings out the best in people. Hence culture facilitates the setting of such measures which allow mediation between individual and collective needs as defined within the same locality, but shaped and affected by market forces of a much wider scale e.g. all kinds of talents not staying in Cardiff, but wandering off to London.

As Phil Cooke will point out in the Case Study of Cardiff, it depends whether or not all this takes place within a deregulated market while attempting to respond still to society as a whole, models of this new economy require for true success stories in a fragmented setting small and precise interventions, if culture in the concrete sense is taken further to mean 24 hours cultural quarters if to be attracted places for certain small and medium sized enterprises of this new sector e.g. Animation firms in Cardiff to service a larger broadcasting industry upheld by government policy.

If Adorno could say, 'the whole is not the truth' (in reversal of Hegel's dictum that 'the whole is the truth'), then in an open society with global dimensions, it is possible to conceive the CIED project as an ongoing 'learning process' around such objectives as "to learn to use but not to abuse culture"; moreover, the terminology of the project with such key term as 'cultural innovation' to capture the dynamics of both places and people has to capture a different meaning of culture. This is especially the case if former cultures of the industrial state (from Adam Smith to Galbraith) are marginalized and the culture of the Information Society as yet not articulated enough, in order to know what it means to link culture to the 'knowledge economy' or 'cultural economy'. Out of it follows another type of risk taking when wishing to make not just inward investments, but investments with a positive cultural impact. For that CIED will want to produce a 'Good Practice Manual' as guidance for local and regional authorities in response to such investments.

Culture as theory furthers reflections over and beyond how things are spoken about or commented on in daily life to become articulated means to ‘perceive human beings and the nature of things’ when deliberating about the nature of the project. Always it will mean a specific way of governing things and people's interactions as part of an ongoing process to develop and to sustain life. A key element shall be the common valorization of cultural heritage and whether or not the city lets people develop bottom-up success stories as part of decentralization of power done by reforming the city's administrations. By doing so it would mean adding 'cultural sustainability' to the various criteria of 'sustainability' with a positive cultural impact being people's abilities to uphold a process of restoration of cultural heritage and promoting culture through innovative networks e.g. Maurizio Carta's reflections about what is possible in Palermo as 'city of opportunities'. Subsequently such process is made possible by a cultural dynamism shaping and reflecting the degree of social and economic cohesion. Development of a city would depend, therefore, on how the differences between cultural needs and market driven forces of a certain economy can be bridged so as to sustain the process. CIED stands here for the refinement of planning practices while less intervention and more encouragement of bottom-up success stories is desired since people's actions and meaning of local places are obviously interconnected. 
Insofar culture is a ‘way of doing things’ while coming to terms with ‘problems of perception, explanation and interpretation’, economic sustainability is an outcome of what is being upheld (also in the way of values). Consequently positive energies and changes are incurred due to specific dynamics shaping the space and scope of economic activities, but in a culturally sophisticated manner done by giving conscious reflections a way for the cultural sector to have a voice in all decisions made to affect a city's development and profile.

A conscious culture takes root once there is the possibility to discuss values, ideas and understanding the nature of projects (programs) in terms of their impact upon cultural identities, in order to know what can lead to good practise. Therefore, culture reveals as much as enables legitimisation of actions and/or planning interventions. Yet if sustainable development is to be attained through governance of things, then culture has to be seen as an outcome of how people inform one another about what is going on in reality prior to making decisions. This depends in turn upon the degree of honesty prevailing when further information is passed on as there is the political problem of mendacity, or what has been the reason for people to feel not to be informed and outside any crucial decision making process. For instance, the user group in Cardiff experienced for the first time thanks to CIED to be informed about the intentions of the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation put there in place of a mayor and an elected local government during the Thatcher years, in order to develop Cardiff Bay after the coal mining industry and with it the specific purpose of that port had collapsed.

It means one of CIED’s five objective, ‘namely to learn how to use, but not abuse culture’, turned out to be a most important linkage between people, institutions and sustainable economic development;
as such, CIED rules out use of culture in a discriminatory manner in order to exclude others;
that is, economic development can only be achieved, if there prevails a clear distinction between a culture under threat and being challenged by both modern and regressive developments, for only open cultures to an ongoing learning process from the other(s) can be innovative by allowing themselves to be challenged in both political policy and methodology of implementation to satisfy economic terms of sustainability.

As in the case of all European projects, formulation of the proposal and the set-up of the project required extensive negotiations with local authorities and their experts. Crucial was here to identify the ‘innovative idea’ in both cultural and economic terms to be undertaken at local level, in order to advance in conjunction with the other international partners. The aim was to achieve ‘Good Practice’ in both planning procedures and investment decisions.
There were needed also negotiations at the European level with the European Commission. At the outset CIED had to accept a reduction in the overall budget by 100 000 Euros. Retrospectively speaking, this had a negative impact upon the partnership (loss of initial project leader / changes in partners) and made it extremely difficult to realise all the inherent potentialities of the project.

CIED’s inherent methodology entails a very sophisticated approach to questions of culture in relation to economic development. Many more innovative capacities could have been stimulated, had resources not been so limited. By necessity, the approach to any linkage between culture and economic development has to be both complex and explorative enough, so as to allow for sustained development as a learning experience with concrete outcomes for all actors involved.

Prior to applying its notion of what are manageable projects, it is recommended that the European Commission reconsiders the complexity cultural projects have to deal with, the time span needed to work out solutions and what is a realistic co-financial arrangement. Especially if sustainable development is to be achieved, then different kinds of investments and cultural factors have to be activated to start a process of maturation. Until someone grows up in a city after having internalised a set of complex values and then makes the right decisions as architect, engineer or planner, it should be clear that the time framework of such an approach transcends more than one generation. More so European projects must be able to take risks and to learn out of ‘mistakes’, if they are to be innovative. Without investments in culture and infrastructures, social cohesion and economic development cannot be achieved. Needless to say, all of this is not possible within the brief time span of two years.

Progress made

As the maturation process around the 5 objectives and the continuity of CIED shows, much progress was achieved since the project opened up many vertical and horizontal forms of collaborations between different actors. However, the ‘critical mass’ needed for advancing the European project beyond its own set limits requires such an extensive international co-operation, that the given time limit of two years and four months as set by the eligible expenditure horizon was not enough to measure up at both European and international levels to the inherent potentiality of CIED.

CIED can be perceived as a kind of ‘adventure of ideas’ linked to discovering and exploring cultural dimensions of economic development. As this takes place in the context of local decision-making, many experiences were made on how culture can be used to refine current urban/regional planning methodologies. The most valuable result rests in the fact that CIED can now be perceived as a kind of scanning devise for identifying cultural and political issues in need of being resolved before any further progress at both local and European level can be made. The identification of issues, problems and potentialities is a prerequisite prior to any further political solution leading on to further European programmes and investments.

Added to such general cultural dimension have to be literature (poetry), history, architecture, ancient and industrial heritage, since here man’s self-understanding is articulated. It gives a better insight into what constitutes ‘cultural identity’, or as an example, the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentos takes a broken mirror as metaphor to explain the current condition of the Mexican identity. In Ancient Greece it was Homer who brought about change by giving his fellow-men not only the needed self-confidence to undergo tremendous changes, but he transmitted through the stories about Odysseus measures of time or what it takes to manage all the transitions from a backward to an advanced society.

No matter what is used to further this self-reflective process, culture defines itself through the means made available to the people in order to reflect upon themselves as much as upon the conditions of mankind. Empathy and imagination are needed to transcend many of the limiting borders incurred in daily life and yet they are often defined or drawn by history intermingling with circumstances and life long expectations never fulfilled.

The stuff reality is made out of and this means the people can be taken as material substance of any living culture. It should not be confused with tradition nor with images projected by state mechanisms or advertisements in order to promote a certain style and way of life. Exactly the entry of consumption and commercialisation of all walks of life has given rise to increasing worries about ‘cultural identities’ becoming even less than just broken mirrors. As James Clifford in Predicament of Culture would say, the loss of cultural diversity in a world beginning to look everywhere the same, that rebounds negatively upon any ability to maintain and to articulate a unique cultural identity.

CIED attempted to address also at local level not only the matter of cultural identity being challenged by recent and modern developments, but also the need to have a conscious cultural policy. Over and again it was stated that politicians rarely listen to cultural arguments. As a result there was a great risk that market forces could drive out all life out of any locality due to neglect of a conscious cultural policy that could offset this trend. This is something Michael D. Higgins stressed over and again when speaking at the various CIED conferences. He referred to the very few decisions the Council for Culture had taken at EU level during his four-year term of office. The lack of compassionate arguments for cultural policy in Europe reflects itself in overstressing the economic side of all things without thereby realising that the cultural dimension is needed to achieve exactly this goal of full employment and a sustainable economic development.

CIED worked furthermore towards some concepts for Good Practice in the Cultural Sector. The fear was that this sector would be repeating the same mistakes as other economic sectors had committed before. By developing the Cultural Calendar as tool for cultural planning a kind of mediation between ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ in the Cultural Sector was started, e.g. a study of regular meetings by doctors, lawyers, clubs etc. could be seen as a demand for potential artistic performances so that through mediation many artists could gain recognition and a chance to perform. The city of Palermo did this most wisely in the old City Centre by motivating newly opened restaurants to hire artists during a special festival period in exchange for a tax break that would have to be paid otherwise if putting out on the street tables and chairs as extension of their premises. A Cultural Calendar brought together the programs of all restaurants and bars, so that in the end people came due to the overall attraction and each individual restaurant owner profited from the increase in demand. As a matter of fact a well worked out cultural calendar, as developed by Joerg Asshoff in Leipzig, is needed in order to gain insights on how the cultural sector can be linked more consciously to ongoing economic developments i.e. cultural tourism.

Progressively CIED moved towards new perceptions of cultural and economic potentials. Crucial was the shift towards the concept of ‘human resources’ and how culture can facilitate to gain access to very different kinds of ‘human resources’. This is crucial when it comes to resolving the questions of unemployment. Solutions require the successful integration of individuals into both meaningful and ongoing activities within society. That can be brought about only within the overall framework conditions of ‘Good Practice’.

Much depends, therefore, upon gaining access to such resources that are enhanced and enriched by new cultural infrastructures that can link local with global conditions. Part of that extends towards how the Information Society can be integrated into the local setting. Resources made available can only be made use of within a process best described as a successful cultural adaptation to these new living and working conditions affecting first of all communication and dissemination of information.

One example examined and discussed very much within CIED has been Cardiff’s business plan for restoration of Mount Stuart Square and the former Coal Exchange building. This concerns multi-media industry as much as new usage of former industrial sites and buildings. Crucial is in this case the lack of investments made by SME’s in learning to use wisely and progressively the resources made available by the Information Society.

Added to that complexity has to be the industrial policy of large media demanding production units such as modern television stations issued contracts to the audio-visual and multi-media industry in a certain way. The extension into culture requires a diversity of small and innovative companies and not the ongoing practise of privileging only the large companies under the assumption that only they can manage the business of high quantity and quality output.

If future European policy is to further and strengthen cultural diversity, then sophisticated cultural policies and programmes must be implemented in future. Only then such co-operation agreements will come about that can uphold the economy as Europe depends upon innovative networks to achieve the ‘knowledge economy’.


Learning to take the local factor into consideration is most crucial for understanding the basic orientation of CIED. For example, Vasilis Sgouris from Volos, Greece and, therefore, the new project leader after Vetschau (Germany) had departed, insisted always that the project should satisfy local needs. Thus while making efforts to find unique ways of restoring former industrial buildings, he believes that these interventions can be best prepared if they support the local people in their search for cultural identity, expressions thereof. To achieve outlets for that much needs to be done. It shapes also the approach to on how localised ideas must become before finding the acceptance of the inhabitants. This then is a demand placed upon any European project and defines in turn the substance of outcomes.
CIED differs, therefore, from the more engineer and technically driven projects, but also from such projects that wish to market merely culture through such products that satisfy terms of cultural tourism. The latter tend towards a mere functional use of culture, but without strengthening local identities and cultural innovation.

Departing from criticism of conventional planning (Sue Tilden) while relating to theories of cultural economies, CIED developed ‘cross cultural references’ and ‘common parameters’ as part of its methodology for testing the working hypothesis and for evaluation purposes of the five different Pilot Projects.

Some of the methodological assumptions are based on work done already prior to the start of the project. This includes research by Phil Cooke at CASS of Cardiff University. Among other things, he examined on a comparative basis the term of ‘culture of excellence’ to explain differences in competitiveness between various regions of Europe.

At the outset of the project a paper by Dr. Hatto Fischer on ‘cross cultural references’ stipulated how the comparative method known in studies of literature could be adapted to enable evaluation of the different Pilot Projects within CIED. As the project progressed, this made possible the bringing together of the five projects (see Volos Reader).

CIED’s concept of innovative planning was enriched also by contributions of various urban and regional planners such as Maurizio Carta, Uwe Ferber, Iris Reuther, Karin Hiort, Juergen Eckhardt, John Roche etc. Their ideas were taken up as the project progressed through its various stages of implementation. Jim Higgins as ‘cultural heritage officer’ added in a very fruitful manner to this ongoing reflection about possibilities at informal and formal levels. He was hired as a result of CIED by the City Corporation of Galway to oversee implementation of official plans in due respect of their impact upon cultural heritage of the city. This was a first step from informal to formal responsibilities.

All along the self-understanding of CIED has been that as a Pilot Project there was no need to challenge directly the legal and institutionalised planning process prior to having tested all methodological components in practice.

Cultural Impact Studies

As CIED started to come to terms with the need for ‘cultural innovation’, a new approach was taken towards ‘cultural impact studies’.

As expressed in the Palermo Principles, CIED recommends that the European Commission promotes research into and development of Cultural Impact Studies, so as to attain a better understanding of Good Practice when it comes to implementing European Policies.

Culture and Investments – towards Good Practice and High Quality Development

Cardiff Bay Development Corporation imposed upon potential investors in the Bay area the need to take culture into consideration. Subsequently many investors declined to venture forth since culture overcomplicated in their minds the situation. Yet Cardiff Bay Development Corporation did not mind, for by using culture as prerequisite, they obtained a new selection criteria of desirable investments. The investors who then came forth all improved in quality of design while relating to the old, that is the already existing things. This made possible a progressive innovation towards a new use of the entire bay area.

The possibility of learning out of such practical experiences helped CIED to work out a comprehensive picture as to the framework conditions of ‘Good Practice’.

Already at the First CIED Conference held in Galway Phil Cooke gave a convincing practical definition of ‘Good Practise’, namely that when local authorities accept ‘inward investments’, that at least a minimum of ethical conditions are observed.

‘Good Practise’ relates, therefore, to following key factors:

  1. negotiation powers of local authorities with potential investors;
  2. local /regional authorities take culture seriously into consideration.
  3. decisions are no longer based on feasibility, but on cultural impact studies
  4. Cultural Impact Studies are anticipatory measures and can be used as basis for evaluation of projects in terms of cultural sustainability.

As orientation for future innovative Pilot Projects, CIED recommends that culture is to mean concrete descriptions of ‘constraints’ to make things become articulated in reference to a specific cultural identity. As guideline for future funding, it can stipulate what practical steps have to be taken into account when investments in specific projects are to be made in awareness of their ‘impact’. Already here the difference of a place having a conscious Cultural Policy to the one that does not is significant. It would alter the disposition of such a project within the Structural Fund. For if not the case, then still other measures would be needed to achieve a clear cohesion. Awareness of Cultural Policy and its implementation process at European level, Parliament included, is therefore needed to ensure that all ‘planning interventions’ are culturally sustainable and thereby of such capacity that they can contribute to the kind of development that respects Cultural Heritage and local Cultural Identities.

Cultural Consensus

To find out what planning measures are most appropriate in the given cultural context, CIED relies upon ‘cultural consensus’ as basis for all decisions. It is done with the purpose to enhance participation in planning and to advance ‘Good Practice’ in both the political and in the business approaches to economic development.

In order to establish this consensus, the methodology of CIED foresees the creation of a local Cultural Committee. It is meant to initiate a learning process at local level. As Galway demonstrated most effectively, such a local Cultural Committee works best in search of cultural consensus when comprised of different actors, formal and informal organisations included.

As made evident by Palermo, cultural consensus has to do in particular with what cultural identities the local actors wish to retain while facing changes in their environment. This relates in particular to building permissions and use of space, e.g. should it be allowed or not to construct buildings along the seaside or on a mountain slope everyone has identified with ever since a child as part of the place of belonging. In other words, cultural consensus derives its sources of energy from such cultural identity that is able to mediate between continuity and change. Adaptation to the future while staying in dialogue with the past is a prerequisite to live a continuous present. Identity building measures depend, therefore, upon what is offered within what temporal condition and on what basis, for a public, but nostalgic museum may not be able to compete with a modern, privately produced video about cultural heritage made available at every kiosk in the city. Once the state and its institutions have no longer the monopoly over these and other identity building measures, then that too affects the built-up of consensus as a measure for agreement between planning concepts and practical experiences as the city is reshaped by new social and economic factors.

Once this cultural consensus has been described as an understandable context for planning measures, the CIED methodology foresees that the local partners can proceed to test their working hypothesis in order to evaluate the ‘desirable’ or ‘imagined’ project (new use of the old). Once this testing has been done and agreement found, then local authorities and activated formal and informal groups in the city can know what ought to govern the relationship between culture and economic development.

CIED recommends that within the ongoing European debate about modifications of ‘voting procedures’ in Council and the European Parliament the notion of ‘cultural consensus’ should be considered more thoroughly. Neither the ‘subsidiary’ principle nor simple majority can overcome the problem of imposition upon another culture, if so the case when European policy is applied ad hoc and top-down. The so-called decentralisation effort from European level to that of the member states is but a fake one. If the effort to reach consensus with all is abolished then neither the degree of freedom needed for cultural identities to ‘flourish’ (see Maastricht Treaty) within cultural diversities is guaranteed, nor there is given sufficient time and space to work out ‘leading concepts’ for the European Union as based on ‘cultural consensus’. CIED considers this to be a positive binding element, in particular if free of any coercion. Further debate along those lines is, therefore, highly recommended.

CIED methodology – degree of complexity and sophistication

It goes without saying, that CIED as European project co-financed by the European Commission had to go through many learning phases, in order to attain such degree of complexity, that its methodology could become a very precise ‘planning tool’ for local authorities. This was recognised most fully by the City of Palermo where culture and cultural strategies had been used already successfully to revive the old historical centre.

Complexity does not rule out a simple solution. Usually the latter is found once a phase of productive research into the problems has been completed. As Iris Reuther observed in the case of restoring an entire village, the approach to hidden and not so obvious meanings is decisive on how plans are shaped in the end. This applies especially in the case where almost the entire population had left the village. Only once she started to work as a planner with a filmmaker, they found access to that. They interviewed people and later showed to everybody the film in a barn (that is why the film was called the ‘Barn Film’), giving everyone a chance to see what the others had to say on how the village should be restored. This was working out planning guidelines along cultural considerations. Through the film the old residents and newcomers could locate themselves in such a context that allowed a common understanding of the meaning of place.

Over and again actors in the practical fields of urban and regional development emphasised that it is most difficult to obtain necessary support (organisational / financial / political), since usually the categories of public administration and political accountability exclude mutually supported and hence financed projects. Yet a youth centre wishing to re-use a former industrial plant can be funded by City Departments such as the one for Urban Renewal, Housing, Economics or Culture, etc. So it does not make any sense if administrative exclusivity remains at the standpoint, that if the Department gives support for Urban Renewal, then the Department for Culture has nothing to do with it. As the European Commission is progressing at the level of the member states to get all actors together at one and the same table when discussing policy measures to combat unemployment, the same applies at local and regional level.

In other words, different actors need to be brought together for otherwise complex projects shall not have a chance of gaining the support they not only need, but deserve due to what they promise and shall live up to once financially supported. They can fulfil the expectations, if given a concrete basis of collaboration with the authorities and given time to work out solutions in a responsible manner.

Repeatedly CIED became thus an argumentative tool to facilitate negotiations between different actors in order to move things in that direction of development sustained by people working together, mutually reinforcing each other for the benefit of both the locality and the overall development prospects of the city and region. It meant opening up doors for those who had asked in vain to be heard.

At the same time, CIED reinforced through its methodology something Ciaran Hayes from Galway Corporation said when preparing for the first CIED conference, namely only when it is possible to give ‘attention to details’, and then there shall be ‘success’. Due to this methodological approach taken, Socrates Kabouropoulos at the National Book Centre of Greece calls CIED a ‘very sophisticated project’.

Subsequently CIED recommends learning to use ‘culture’ for developing guidelines for planning. Out of the art of creating consensus at local level other possibilities for planning interventions can be developed. The degree to which that becomes the practice depends upon a good co-ordination between leading experts and local / regional authorities. Success comes with a methodology able to take care of details and to guide implementation of policy towards real needs of people. Substantial reason has to be given once such projects qualify the actors involved, while the overall impact can be assessed from both inside and outside the project itself. As ‘precise planning tool’ it means culture in every aspect can be taken into consideration.

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