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Cultural Capitals and Expectation
management - Solution To A Crisis Or A Crisis
In Itself?
– The Case of Turku2011
Alf Rehn, Nina Kivinen, Astrid
Huopalainen, Jutta Tailas & Mika Mård
Åbo Akademi University
The Case
• How does a city become
“creative”?
• the process through which
the city of Turku establishes
itself as a European Capital
of Culture (ECOC) in 2011
• the manner in which
specific things are invoked,
repeated, and woven
together into a narrative
that the city was supposed
to adopt as the story of
itself.
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Studying a Capital of Culture
• a longitudinal study of the events before, during and after the
cultural capital year of 2011, running from 2009 to 2012
• a large empirical data set of interviews, observations, notes,
documents, photographs and media outputs
• Three different, yet complementary approaches: formal
interviews and archival studies of documents & media
coverage, numerous informal discussions and an
ethnographical approach, aiming to live and experience the
year 2011 by taking part in both official and in-official events
in and around the city of Turku during the actual cultural
capital year
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Theoretical assumptions..
• Creativity must be ”performed”, creativity has an ideological
component
• performativity as the “reiterative power of discourse to produce the
phenomena that it regulates and constrains” (Butler 1993), and the
manner in which this plays out in the attempts to establish a city as
something new
• “the creative city” and the ECOC as something that needs to be
performed rather than achieved.
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
The Great Fire – Establishing the
platform
“Turku has been
on fire dozens of
times over the
centuries. Now we
burn again – with
excitement and
desire to make
Turku an
unforgettable
experience for
everyone”
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Turku on Fire
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
”The Creative City”
and its Expectations
• Florida, Landry & Bianchini
• Regions are expected to flourish by embracing issues of
creativity and culture. (Cultural initiatives will have a positive
impact.)

• The creative city” is mystified to an “utopia-like” ideology

• The expectations on cultural initiatives increases
• E.g. events like ECC is seen as a steppingstone for developing
cities (in this case Turku) into a future “creative city”.
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
The Role of Expectations
• The role of Expectations is important here, as is the
management of the same, not only due to the possibility of
fulfilling the same (or not), but actually work as a more
complex network of emotions, projected ideas and envisioned
futures.
• Our interest lies in (Turku2011):
– what form of expectations might occur?
– Will the expectations for culture’s effect on the city be exaggerated or
restrained?
– And how are the recent boom in cultural initiatives’ role for regional
economies affecting the expectations related to this specific megaevent in Turku?
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
The Opening
January 2011
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
EU’s expectations
• “To highlight the richness and diversity of European cultures,
and (…), foster a feeling of European citizenship”. (European
Commission 2010)
• Palmer-research (between 1995 and 2004) underpin
expectations by showing that previous ECC cities have
received a boost in cultural diversity and contributed to a
positive changes in the city.
• The concept of ECC is not limited to showcasing established
cultural capitals, but a platform that enables chosen cities to
become a cultural capital
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Organizer’s expectations
• "Turku 2011 is more than one year. It is a process
through which Turku emerges as a pioneer and a
creative centre of the Baltic Sea region cooperation,
a city that produces and mediates arts and science”
• “As Capital of Culture, Turku makes the year 2011
unforgettable for all Europe. Turku 2011 provides
experiences and encounters that cross borders,
renew everyday life and live on.” (Helander et al,
2007, 8)
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”With good culture
we´ll get over this
one as well”
”Lets stay on
the culture
line Åbo-FöriTurku”
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Either way there´s
culture”
”Where culture is at home”
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
The projects’ expectations
• ”I just hope that it (ECC Turku 2011) would be more
visible and would wake up the whole of Finland and
would get the decision-makers of Turku to commit and
as far as I’ve understood they still haven’t realized
what a great thing it is.”
• “we can hope that the culture gets an extra...I
mean...boost... “
• “I just hope that it gets the honor, space and attention
that it deserves”
• “One would hope that, that also…that something in the
structure, not among the doers, would change
permanently, and the meaning of it would be realized.”
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Expectations in media
• Imaginative expectations:
– a fundamental change in Turku’s identity and major
uplift in the image of Turku, both nationally and abroad’
– Increased interest in Culture
• Restricted expectations:
– Culture does good, but at this prize?
– ECC a single event, how will 2012 look like?
• Critical:
– big price tag of the event
– Cultural iniatives from outside Turku
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Discussion
• A diverse community will awaken diverse
expectation to a fluidly defined “ECC”
• The idea of ECC, to highlight the diversity in
European cultures, can partly also explain the
diversity of expectations
• Carrying the name European Capital of Culture
will establish a city’s view and perception of
the concept of culture in itself
–  Critique
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Summary
• A diversity of expectations surface when a city markets
itself as cultural, when it for a year carries the “flag of
culture”, and claims to use the power of culture to become
a creative city
• Grandiose expectations by organizers (and in literature) on
cultural initiatives are being felt as distant from the grassroot level
• I.e. the promising, mystified and “utopia-like” concept of a
“creative city” vs. those who try to eke out a living in the
cultural sector.
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
Conclusion
• The discourse, mythology and ideology of the
notion of “creative city” is important for
creating the expected effects of cultural
initiatives like ECC
• But….
• At the same time, without an understanding of
how expectations are created and managed, we
run the risk of making grander and grander
promises regarding the power of culture, and
thus invite an almost inevitable backlash.
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
This has been a presentation by
the research group CREATIN´,
Åbo Akademi University
SPECIAL ISSUE IN SCANDINAVIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION:
"Managing the Creative City”
Guest editors:
Professor Alf Rehn
Doctor Ann Rippin
Professor Jussi Jauhiainen
[email protected], [email protected]
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University
The Creatin-group, Åbo Akademi University