Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

The CIED Methodology (Cultural Innovation and Economic Development)

(Part 2 of 2)

History and theoretical - artistic background

Part of the reasons for the approach taken by CIED can be found in the steps leading up to making finally this successful proposal. Both the Fifth Seminar on “Cultural Actions for Europe” held in Athens 1994 and the subsequent conference on the “Myth of the City” held in Crete 1995 were stepping stones towards this attempt to bring about prospective fruitful relationships between culture and economy.

Equally references could be made to ongoing discussions within the Aegean Seminars taking place every second or third year and which some CIED members such as Vasilis Sgouris, Phil Cooke and Hatto Fischer have attended since 1985. As a matter of fact, the city of Volos joined CIED after Vasilis Sgouris and Hatto Fischer discussed the project following the Aegean seminar held on the island of Milos 1996. Significantly the seminar dealt for the first time at that time with the topic: ‘cultural turn in the criticism of the market’.

Crucial for understanding the theoretical contents of the Aegean Seminars is how economists, geographers, architects and planners working both as free consultants, but also within various university and governmental settings, re-address the crucial spatial dimension. This goes with a criticism of market forces and what governmental policies have been applied over time. Already at one of the earliest Aegean seminars, namely the Lesvos one of 1985, there was extended Adam Smith’s Division of Labour to the interrelationships between cities and their regions. It means looking at how the linkage between the ‘logic of organising work’ and ‘use of space’ has been re-shaped over time as cities expanded and re-organised use of space.

These theoretical studies and discussions are relevant to CIED because they relate to the period especially after the industrial society collapsed. Since then every local and regional economy must revive itself on a different premise. As recent developments indicate, there has to be included the cultural sector and the cultural economy.

CIED recommends that all these materials are made available in a common database, so as to ensure a ‘continuity of theoretical work’ accompanying Good Practice. Modern Communication Technology allows for such ‘dissemination activities’ that emerge out of a common archive. Digital libraries are already in place, but for overall planning concepts linked to culture and cultural policy, this is still in need of being implemented. Only once this is available, can all arguments and reports that are put forth in this respect by Council, Parliament and Commission be substantiated. Equally it is recommended that linkages should be developed to other Pilot Projects that have contributed likewise to concepts of Good Practice in the field of culture and economic development.

Organisational principles of CIED

Subsequently CIED has been organised and shaped according to both artistic and scientific principles. While the first deals with constraints in order to become creative, the second is much more linked to the kind of methodological discussions Popper and Adorno envisioned for the Social Sciences in their Positivism-Debate.

When referring to how artists are organised, the painter Roger Servais explains what is most crucial for realising a successful workshop, namely the setting of constraints. This can be done by leaving to artists all the freedom of expression, but to give them one constraint, namely, for example, to use only paper and nothing else, that is not stone, metal, wood etc. Translated into the context of CIED, co-ordination communicated to all partners, that it should be clear from the outset that the project strives to fulfil concrete needs within real constraints. It is one of the five objectives.

Indeed more problems are created if artificial needs are pursued. The avoidance thereof finds within CIED its expression in extending the work by the cultural committee to user groups looking into how a specific former industrial building could be re-used. As demonstrated by Cardiff, Palermo and to some extent also by Volos, importance was attached to finding out not only the needs of those who would use the building for specific purposes, but above all how the project could satisfy local needs of the population living in the proximity to the planned intervention.

Out of such reflections evolved the concept of cultural sustainability to ensure that needs of the local population would be met by the project insofar as they could uphold it in their daily lives. To sustain something like a museum in a former industrial plant means specific needs are met within an expanding historical dimension, the memories of the place here crucial for understanding the cultural impact such a project may have upon the local population and not only. For Iris Reuther, planner from Leipzig pointed out that with such development projects the reference points as to where one wishes to take any visitor change. Industrial heritage becomes crucial for this shift in focus and interest.

In that sense, ‘cultural innovation’ means refining the project’s proposal until these local needs are met. Thus any strive towards job creation has to include the local population and not depend merely on experts from outside. This then should determine the new character of a former industrial building / site being re-used in a different way than that of the past. The example of Cantieri della Zisa in Palermo reflects how that can work, e.g. the ticket policy meant that for every visitor who brings someone from the neighbourhood, one person can enter free of charge.

CIED’s orientation towards ‘reality’ means innovation is directed towards the locality, while the bottom-up approach has a real chance to become successful by all economic and cultural criteria. This requires, however, political sensitivity rather than top-down interventions.

Scientific background

The scientific methodology applied by CIED has a philosophical background that includes references to Kuhn’s ‘Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ and attaches some importance to the sensible questioning of Lakatos about Popper’s position. The latter understands science as being reducible to an inter-subjective logic ensuring a methodology that allows the testing of a working hypothesis on the basis of the falsification principle. Translated into the context of CIED, validation in the form of cultural consensus coming into existence in support of the project was taken as one major criterion. In other words, if local authorities envision a certain relationship between culture and economic development, then they must allow this working hypothesis to be tested in reality. It means initiating a learning process between what the local authorities wish to do and what the local population desires really.

In Europe, there is unfortunately a tradition of thought that lacks any sound empirical basis and hence forgets reality by being entrapped in some kind of self generated and self defined concept. Since Hegel this has been the plight of speculative idealism because it ends up usually in disappointment since reality was meant to conform solely to the concept rather than being an independent existence of such a concept.

CIED recommends a realistic approach to future developments through key projects. Two aspects interrelate when following up scientific endeavours in a modern context:

First of all, the pitfalls of image making processes are to be avoided by local authorities. Local authorities should not try to compete at that level. There is a tendency towards new myths and symbolic presentation instead of facing reality. At all costs that should be avoided since modern myth making carries with it the risk of being out of date and merely distorting perception of the present. Instead conscious cultural policy should further actions towards gathering energies for doing things. This can be done best by relocating artistic endeavours in the midst of all activities of local society and by letting culture become authentic. As Michael D. Higgins posed the key question, but what kind of city does everyone want if not just one for consumers while excluding all other kinds of people who do not fit into that kind of society. Cultural work means, therefore, in letting people become freer to work out alternatives and substantial concepts for living, working, playing and doing things.

Secondly, these efforts have to be embedded in a scientific approach towards testing the working hypothesis. Only validated knowledge can be a basis for both innovation and such policy that furthers sustainable economic development. For the latter scientific models of measurement are needed but also the ability to work at local level with cultural indicators.

CIED stands for a validation process of the imagined relationship between culture and economic development to be learned about by going through a certain procedure from testing by the local cultural committees to giving advise to the authorities. The testing of the working hypothesis was subsequently a prime prerequisite for all partners to start off with when the implementation of CIED started in January 1998. Meeting quantitative standards in terms of employment was another aspect worthwhile striving to fulfil. Growth in local partnership is still another indicator of having found a fruitful dynamic between experts and local / regional authorities.

Pitfalls of modernity: corruption of the mind

In the modern context, theory as a way to perceive things is being increasingly denied and replaced by image making machinery’s that manage to convert even the most grotesque mistakes into success. With it goes a ‘corruption of the mind’ until it is impossible to tell the difference between what is demanded out of the abstract need for ‘success’ in this type of society and what can be achieved in this kind of reality with the people being left in conditions as they are?

For instance, the ‘cultural crisis’ of unemployment is repeatedly overlooked, but a person who does not see any value in him- or herself will have a difficult stand when there is need to mediate between own abilities and what is demanded at the job. Without this self-esteem any person is subject to abuse especially when working within hierarchical structures in which everyone keeps silent although gross violations in terms of human rights at work are committed every day. That has consequences for everybody.

In particular, what should experts do when they become engaged in joint ventures with local / regional authorities? Should they tell the authorities the reality or must they be also so convincing that a solution can be found, that is a crucial question to be answered when giving advise. How empirical can the approach be before self-convincing arguments fail to produce the desired effect and instead lead on to the next election defeat because the other signs of discontent in the population were not really heeded? Especially EU funding can turn out to be short term illusion of success while in the long run the lack of sustainability speaks quite another language.

If there is too much rationalisation going on, e.g. no true opening up of the decision making process to the local cultural committee, but managing the project only from within the single institution, i.e. development agency, then due to lack of participation no working hypothesis can be tested. It is all too natural then that the project shall fail to achieve as culturally motivated outcome a learning process.

Of course, experts and in general the public have a difficult time because the art of working with political authorities is not easy. There is a need of local authorities and their politicians to be protected against absolute failures nor do they wish to be exposed to any kind of criticism. They need to keep face no matter the circumstances and do not wish to be exposed by some unpleasant revelations the experts may have discovered in due process. That is why the European Commission is right in asking specifically in the Interim and Final Report about this relationship. It governs very much an Article 10 project.

CIED ended up in due course working with very different types of local authorities and subsequently constellations of local partnerships comprised of formal and informal organizations. While Cardiff and Galway had two different kinds of managerial bodies as local authorities, Leipzig differentiated its linkage between European project and the City of Leipzig by involving a semi public organisation on whose board the City itself was represented, but with no institutional necessity to consult or to work with the officials of the city. Consequently Leipzig as such failed to realise a cultural committee or user group as compared to the other partners and often they were the cause of much irritation since the other partners did not really understand this top-down approach to things. Volos had in DEMEKAV the Municipal Enterprise involved as in Palermo both the municipal government and other organizations came together to implement the CIED project at local level. As the project progressed more members joined the Palermo project. There was clear evidence that the political side gave the fullest possible support to the project and hence made it into quite another success story.

Naturally political authorities are prone to make themselves belief that they are infallible. What makes it one-sided is that they wish to be measured only in terms of success, that is in such terms as it enhances their self-confidence. As CIED’s methodology unfolded, attention had to be given, therefore, to this fact that political support was needed but also the acknowledgement of reality free of any political expectation or even direct influence.

Since empirical reality touches upon many things, including Sartre’s ideas about the imagination, it became crucial for the CIED project to hear Norman Pyres’ encouragement that the partners seek as much outcomes in terms of a learning process as concrete outcomes.

In brief, there can be no progress made if the experts are not willing to challenge bad practice at local level and if a project fails to communicate the demands of the European Commission to create jobs and to bring about the European dimension. There is wisdom in the methodological approach to accountability without which rationalization and even worse corruption of the mind would but produce illusionary outcomes. That would not contribute to the sustainability of the project itself.

Measures of Time

To be successful, every project has to take into consideration the specific time context in which it is to be implemented. For CIED, it is self-evident that at a time when the Industrial Society is fading into history, that the contours of new survival strategies are anything but clear. Subsequently there are needed new measures of time, but also a definition of the tasks ahead, in order that local authorities can respond to and guide economic development. Since all localities have come under the increasing pressure of globalisation, their problem is how to face not only complexities of their own making, but how to negotiate with quite forceful forces of inward investments that can transform any locality beyond all recognition. This is where ‘Good Practice’ comes in as a rule that investments must take into consideration local cultures.

In view of local authorities being most often over-demanded by the impact of the new economy, CIED tries to pose the question of culture anew when it comes to shaping future development strategies. There prevails a paradox. As shown by the LOGOS EU project, despite technology claiming some kind of universality and equality, there continue to prevail throughout Europe cultural inequalities. These differences have been explained by the LOGOS project. They are due to cultural differences existing in Europe in how use is made of resources made available by the Information Society.

Hence future cultural contribution to both European integration and further economic development requires more than just better training and higher qualifications aside from greater mobility of employees and increased competitiveness of Europe in the world. As other Article 10 projects demonstrate as well, economic development needs to be based much more on the cultural adaptation of the local market to regional, national and international conditions. Out of it results a different understanding of innovative networks based on commonly shared cultural values.

The innovative capacity of culture is to give trust to what people can do, in order to evolve out of the past by shaping more clearly their future. For that they need true measures of time. Maturation around clearly defined objectives takes time. Here the European Commission shows much patience and wisdom in letting projects work out their internal difficulties and mistakes. That gives to the partners the possibility to become self-responsible and to be present in the project.

Extra value and motivation is attained when all partners have a sense of making history when developing further the core ideas of the project. As enrichment possibility of all actors making valuable experiences through such complex and sophisticated validation process, the opportunities given by the European Commission are indeed worthwhile to consider as new measures of time.

Innovative Networks: new work forms

The thesis of Phil Cooke, Cardiff about ‘innovative networks’ as prerequisite for entry into economic benefits based on redistribution of work is crucial for further understanding use of culture as an evolving strategy on how to work together. With it goes exchange of information, but on the basis of common cultural values that allows communication with understanding each other’s needs and potentialities to give. One of the most crucial cultural values is honesty. If it governs the giving of information, then the overall outcome shall be ‘excellence of work’. That then says a lot about the new work forms required to stay both competitive and co-operative.

Innovative networks are based on a much greater ability to share information and to continue learning from others than previous forms of ‘exchange of knowledge’ made possible, for example, in the past between industry, universities and special research entities. But they face also the risk that some group or organisation jumps out of the co-operative spirit for the sake of short-term profit taking. Hence it is crucial according to Phil Cooke that short-term commitments are transformed into long-term ones. This constituted then the main work of the Cardiff User Group at the end of the CIED project.

Subsequently CIED perceives flows of information very much as flows of energies that allow people to do things with a vision for their future while remaining in dialogue with the past. As the urban planner Iris Reuther would state, most significant is securing a continuity of identity amidst all of these changes.

The negative Industrial Heritage and Energy Policy

Clearly a significant change in the urban but also regional landscape has been the decline of industrial production. In Leipzig 90% of all industry closed after the opening of the Berlin Wall 1989.

Industrial heritage, including its archaeological facets, reveals a new version of culture not based on any kind of anthropological reductionism of man. Indeed the industrial age left quite a different imprint upon man and nature as described best by conflicts between nature and man-made forces or technology. That is reflected in the writings of Rousseau and Kant. They had envisioned or even imagined man as being unable to learn to be practical in society and, therefore, mankind needed the ‘categorical imperative’ to be disciplined into the kind of productive world as conceived by Adam Smith.

However, as events showed since First World War and then with the dropping of the Atom Bomb at the end of Second World War, mankind did not anticipate what would be possible as a result of the release of so much energy. The destructive forces of technology and with it industrialisation can be seen everywhere today with regards to both the environment and under what alienation mankind suffers. Especially urban squalor and impossible living conditions reveal the hideous side of such economic development that does not regard sustainability to be an important issue. These issues are connected to use of nuclear energy, but extend over and beyond that to how mankind has been exploiting all natural and human resources.

Hence since Second World War, there is an urgent but not as of yet fulfilled demand, namely to control the release of energy. It ought to happen in such a way that it does not do any further harm to mankind and the environment. Unfortunately nuclear energy has taxed more than the present also future generations with some deeply harmful, equally unresolved problems of nuclear wastage. Chernobyl is here a prime example of how absurd the situation has become for mankind, the numerous nuclear submarines just an extension thereof.

Clearly man’s dealing with energy sources and technical means to produce even more energy should be linked to a new set of constraints. More than mere visions and political actions in favour of crude business practices, there is a need for such governance that strengthens both cultural identity and cultural consensus. Both can be regarded as prerequisites for a continuity of ‘good practice’ based on common shared values and a strong sense of responsibility making possible social cohesion and avoidance of wastage of resources. At local level it will help also to resolve such urgent issues as to where a sewage treatment plant can be constructed rather than letting everything just flow into the river or sea.

Responsibility begins by not displacing the problem, but in acknowledging that these are common problems.

Types of investments

Within such a modern context, any European project must be able to relate to the pertinent questions of industrial heritage when it comes to differentiate between types of investments. As the case of all urban planning decisions, the approach taken to needed investments for further economic development affects naturally decisions as to whether or not a former industrial plant is torn down or else the money can be used to help reshape this former space for new uses. The outcome depends upon how new ‘planning interventions’ evolve out of a system no longer based on a ‘checks and balance’, but on ‘cultural sustainability’.

Within the current European setting, all this is linked on how institutions manage to obtain EU co-funding and how the projects are implemented. That can be considered as incentive for further investments. However, as a result of a substantial amount of unspecific distribution of EU funds regional inequalities continue to prevail. This is mainly due to interests of Member States prevailing over a direct linkage between the European Commission and the local level. Here the Article 10 projects constituted a positive exception, giving thereby numerous new actors to qualify themselves through European projects in terms of cultural and project management. So generally speaking, most of the Structural Fund related efforts have not matured as of yet into an overall pillar of the European Union.

There continues to prevail throughout the European Union a fierce competition for inward investments, something that cultural policy could offset. Findings show, however, that even in countries like Finland the structural fund provision for culture does not alleviate this problem.

In the end, modern management methods, lobbies and vested interests favour a policy of exclusion. MEPs of the European Parliament call this a re-nationalisation of EU policy. Member States and in some cases their powerful regions do that, in order to have a monopoly on EU funds.

It would be crucial to continue the direct linkage between the European Commission and local actors, in order to allow for a further qualification. Also as is the case especially in Germany, more people ought to be motivated to become involved in European projects. Although many have the notion of these projects being based on the ideas of networking as the spine of European integration, they lack the experience and hence the most important socialisation. Subsequently the cultural gap between those able to work at the European level and that is within international co-operative forms and those not having anything to do with the European level, as in many areas in Great Britain, is enormous. It is difficult to imagine on how that gap can be bridged by other than cultural actions aiming to integrate people into the European Union’s understanding of methodology and accountability.

Because of the overdrive towards mere management, these scarce EU funds are not distributed evenly nor down to the local level, but rather used to give power to key institutions, conscious efforts to determine the development pattern locally have little chances to materialise themselves. Consequently the local authorities risk loosing the kind of economic development needed to retain ‘identity of place’. By giving in too much to the demands of new investors, that is by not placing key constraints as ethical minimum for any negotiation, they loose out in terms of both a supportive consensus within the local population and in negotiations with the national levels of governance. The latter holds the key to interpreting EU programmes and deprives thereby the local level of valuable international experiences.

It was clear to CIED that many constraints have to be articulated prior to finding a convincing path towards sustainable solution. That depends on the interpretation given to what investments are needed for the future. As Leipzig demonstrates, this has to include overcoming the very monstrosity of huge industrial buildings while not giving in to a general tendency to simply tear things down. Just as in the case of archaeological sites, former industrial buildings need to be preserved because they entail besides a historical memory of man’s activities a vast architectural history. Such a value went largely unnoticed as a long the chimneys’ were still smoking and more than 5000 people streamed daily through the main gate either on foot or on bicycles. Today that impact upon society has vanished, but not so the image of the coercive powers of industry to employ so many people.

As a recommendation CIED would propose an evaluative scheme of different types of investments starting with culturally motivated ones to merely business orientated ventures. Within Europe governed by different spatial planning concepts, the linkages between Cardiff in Wales and Volos in Greece could not be more apparent than what happens with pension funds in the UK. They are not allowed to be used for construction in the UK, but certainly in Greece. Much of the hidden dimensions of ill conceived planning and violations of building regulations – the famous illegal settlements or constructions in Greece – can be attributed to lack of social and political coherence in development strategies right across Europe. The pretension of being economically orientated without seeing the consequences of the land being fragmented worse than what takes place in cities with their uncontrolled sub-urbanisation processes leaves at the very least the bitter taste of double standards.

CIED would like to see a moratorium on investments made in Europe in order to halt further destruction of cultural landscapes. The absolute building stop on the outskirts of Palermo by Mayor Orlando is such an example. He saw that as a prerequisite to save the historical centre from further neglect and deterioration. There are types of investments neither needed nor real contributors to sustainable development. They ought to be identified and per regulation to be made impossible. The positive constraint of culture is just that: the promotion of Good Practice.

CIED’s Self-Understanding

Given this perception on how to link culture with economic development, CIED confronted four basic needs when co-ordination and the partners started to communicate with one another about to the project’s self-understanding. It was understood right from the beginning that:

there needs to be addressed anew the political scope of responsibility when it comes to mediate between culture and economics with politicians tending usually to disregard the importance of culture;

there has to be upheld a minimum of Good Practice when it comes to inward investments, that is under what conditions they are accepted and in turn what conditions are imposed upon them;

cultural identity and cultural developments in Europe demand that economic development does not destroy, but enhances respect for cultural diversity and cultural identity;

there is a need to advance knowledge as to ancient and recent pasts in order to learn through cultural and industrial heritage how to further cultural innovations in all fields of man’s activities.

CIED wishes to relate to theory and practice, in order to comprehend modern culture in the making. This process has to be seen in connection with the newly emerging economy leaving behind the industrial society. As phenomenon it is connected with the question, but how do people wish and end up living together with others? The partners of CIED found it most helpful that the project allowed them to discover another language of praxis.


Conclusion: Follow-up to CIED's Methodology

CIED (Cultural Innovation and Economic Development) stands for a cultural approach to economic affairs and should lead on to ‘Good Practice’ when it comes to trying to achieve ‘sustainable development’.

As such it includes not merely environmental concerns but deals as well with the complex issue of ‘measurements of sustainability’. The latter has to be derived from culture, economy, political and social institutions as well as from the physical environment.

The CIED methodology is based on what can be assumed to be the capacity of individuals but equally of institutions to ‘work with indicators’.  Decisions, planning interventions and expenditures need always to take stock to know reality. That is as important as the balance man needs if to walk in an upright manner.

A humane manner of speaking about praxis has a theoretical dimension. Unfortunately that goes too often unnoticed since culture is never really understood as being also a way and indeed art of perceiving things. Thus CIED maintains that cultural reflections have to included in these measurements.

CIED organized a European conference in Leipzig 1999 to deal with this linkage between quantitative and qualitative measures or how to make possible that the ‘non-measurable becomes measurable’ (Anne Pender / Frank Convery, Dublin). Departing from this background and in taking into consideration the experiences made as an Article 10 – ERDF project, 'working with indicators' means including as well the voices of poets and of the cultural sector when dealing with the refinement possibilities of planning methodologies. By including cultural reflections when it comes to attract inward investments, good practice can defined as part of the prevailing cultural consensus which guides local and regional authorities towards other kinds of interventions and investments once it becomes mandatory to take culture into consideration.

Cultural sustainability has to include the valorization of cultural heritage and natural landscapes in both tangible and intangible terms. For something known in the past and in need of still existing when future generations undertake it to comprehend the different layers of cultural experiences mankind has made over time, is as crucial to attain sustainability as is wise water management.

The World Summit 2002 had undertaken it to fulfill four strategic objectives:

  1. increased global equity and an effective global partnership for sustainable development
  2. better integration of environment and development at the international level
  3. adoption of environment and development targets to revitalize and provide focus to the Rio process; and
  4. more effective action at national level with stronger international monitoring

While the first one is clearly about partnership and relates, therefore, politically to the key term ‘coalition of responsibility’, the second one is both a value premise and goal to be achieved by such global partnership aiming to work out the conditions for fulfilling the objective of sustainable development. Whether or not this can be achieved by ‘better integration of environment and development’ remains to be seen, for skeptics would argue already here not integration, but avoiding and stopping certain developments would only make possible a higher respect and regard for nature while the ‘environment’ ought not to be so much protected, as left alone – something given the world population growth and with it the expanding cities others would argue is an impossible thing to do. Still a poet like Paula Meehan in Ireland would say, there is a difference between untouched nature or wild spaces and where man has to intervene as the discussion about reasons for forest fires indicate.

For further information about the crucial background for this debate and what has become known as Agenda 21 see, for instance, what the European Commission provides on this subject matter:


After a brief introduction, CIED's way of perceiving the WSSD was structured in accordance to a ten finger system to facilitate entry into comprehensive and complex issues while providing at the same time an overview when it comes to link the various issues of sustainability as well to such crucial matters as education for sustainability and cultural i.e. literary expressions of sustainability. It seems that the most important criterion in need to be observed is what people can uphold and therefore sustain themselves. The technological capacity has transcended so often that human boundary without heeding that basic wisdom.

Athens / Brussels 2002

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