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Exploring synergies: Creative Economic Development + Cultural Planning

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

A brief exploration into some of the differences and synergies between Creative Economic Development and Cultural Planning, as a lead up to virtually attending the annual summit of the Creative City Network of Canada in early October 2023.


Broadly speaking, Creative Economic Development (CrED) harnesses the power of ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship, while Cultural Planning (CP) is more focused on cultural assets, public engagement and the distinctive features of a place. By combining these approaches, communities can create a holistic strategy that fosters economic growth while celebrating their unique identity. In doing so, they pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for all residents.

CrED supports a wide range of audiences including artists and artisans, early stage creative entrepreneurs and creative industry workers such as videographers, video game developers and fashion designers. This approach emphasizes:

  1. Diverse industry clusters: CrED encourages the growth of diverse industry clusters, fostering innovation hubs that bring together a mix of businesses, from startups to established companies. This dynamic ecosystem stimulates knowledge-sharing and collaboration, driving economic advancement.

  2. Infrastructure and support systems: CrED prioritizes investments in infrastructure, such as co-working spaces, incubators and technology parks. These spaces serve as catalysts for innovation, providing a conducive environment for entrepreneurs and creatives to flourish.

  3. Skills development: CrED recognizes the importance of a skilled workforce - emphasizing education and training programs. These initiatives equip individuals with the necessary skills to excel in emerging creative activities and industries.

  4. Niche tourism and events: CrED leverages local culture and creativity to attract tourists and visitors interested in experiencing unique offerings. This not only generates revenue but also fosters a sense of pride and identity among residents.

Cultural Planning (CP) revolves around preserving, celebrating, and promoting a community's cultural assets. It acknowledges the intrinsic value of traditions, history and arts in shaping a community's identity. Key elements include:

  1. Heritage conservation: CP prioritizes the protection of historic landmarks, traditions and cultural sites. It ensures that the essence of a community's identity is safeguarded for future generations.

  2. Arts and culture programming: CP promotes a vibrant arts and culture scene through initiatives like festivals, exhibitions and performances. These events not only enrich the quality of life for residents but also attract cultural enthusiasts from outside the community.

  3. Public spaces and placemaking: CP emphasizes the design and activation of public spaces that reflect the community's cultural assets and capacities. These spaces serve as gathering points, fostering a sense of belonging among residents.

  4. Community engagement and participation: CP encourages active participation from residents in shaping the cultural landscape of their community. This involvement instills a sense of ownership and pride, strengthening community bonds.

Creative Economic Development and Cultural Planning can complement each other in powerful ways. By integrating these approaches, communities and regions can create a well-rounded strategy that leverages both the economic potential of creativity and the cultural richness that defines their identity.

Image credit: Los Angeles Allied Woodshop (


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