Call for papers


Initially planned for 8 to 10th of October 2020, the workshop is postponed to 1st and 2nd of April 2021 in Nantes.


The “Beyond Creative Cities” workshop will take place on 1st-2nd April 2021 in Nantes. It is organized by the SCAENA(supported by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche) and DEMEXTRA (supported by PUCA – Plan Urbanisme Construction Architecture) research programs. It will be held as part of the "Nantes, European Capital of Innovation" event organized by Nantes Metropole which has been awarded European Capital of Innovation for 2019 notably for its capacity to involve citizens in co-shaping the city. This workshop aims to gather researchers, professionals, public and private organizations, and to address the questions of innovation models, the relationship between artistic activities and digital technologies, the territorial innovation and the making of the city.


Extended abstracts may be submitted in French or English (but the conference will be in English) and should not exceed 500 words.

Papers should be sent to the following e-mail address (clemence.guillemont@univ-angers.fr) or directly to this link


Download the Call for papers (pdf)


 “The creative city concept has become contentious.
A danger is that the notion is becoming empty and hollowed out through overuse”
(Landry 2012:7)


The idea of creative city first emerged in the late 1980s/early 1990s combining three initial ingredients: mapping cultural industries, promoting an innovative design of local public policies and fostering a cultural urban renaissance around strong public investments in art and cultural amenities. Throughout the 2000s, the buzz that surrounded the creative class and industries concepts contributed to a real storytelling and the application of the creative city agenda. If the debates around the creative city were mainly focused on issues of attractiveness, place branding and the clustering of creative activities, they neglected the pioneering postulates which were at the origin of the formulation of what was to become one of the most important urban models of the late twentieth century: the link between creative abilities of people, place-making and the production of innovations and novelties.

Thirty years later, the picture is still confused. As Graeme Evans reminds us, “The creative city imaginary is an evolutionary concept, reflecting post-industrial and cultural ‘turns’, resulting in a hybrid of assemblages and definitions; assemblage in terms of both sociospatial theory, notably in geography, and in the visual art practice of creative construction through ‘found objects’, where the creative city is seen to draw on a city’s cultural assets, ‘offer’ and ‘creative essence’. The latter is often manifested in creative industries and strengths in innovation and design, and in the more experiential buzz and scene associated with contemporary attractive cities.” (Evans, 2017: 311)

The main objective of the workshop is to challenge the creative city idea in the light of the 21st century issues:

 1.    Beyond creative classes:  a cooperative society based on maker ethos?

The theory of creative classes associates the creativity of a territory with its ability to attract a category of workers, “the creative class ", capable of solving new and non-routine problems. Sought after by high-tech companies, this class is itself drawn to territories with specific amenities (green cities, culture, open-mindedness and tolerance, etc…). However, the collective dimension of creativity and innovation based on cooperation and citizen participation is eluded. Similarly, a large part of urban innovations is handled by makers involved in their territories and belonging to cooperative communities (Suire, 2019). How to build this “cooperative society” which splits the creative capabilities of a territory between numerous individuals and communities linked together? How do urban configurations, events, spaces and places involve cooperation and production of novelties?    

2.    Beyond creative clusters: some new paths of innovation? 

The creative industries have received considerable attention in recent years. Following the seminal works of Scott (2000), Santagata (2006), Mommaas (2004), Cooke and Lazzeretti, (2008) on cultural or creative clusters, many territories and cities have supported the development of creative activities and encourage the logic of supply chains. It often comes with strong local support to entrepreneurship (media, culture, digital, even academic, etc.) and the design of neighborhoods entirely devoted to innovation or to artistic and start-up activities. These industries are highly innovative and embedded in multiplex networks (social, spatial, economics) which hardly impact the urban balance. But it is now documented that the production of these innovations may involve strong inequalities and lead to an urban crisis (Florida, 2017). To some extent, San Francisco is nowadays the focal point of all these tensions. However, it does not mean that culture and cultural activities have now vanished but the spatial and socio-economic characteristics of artistic novelties emergence have to be questioned in a gentrified city. Artistic residence, brownfield, little scenes or small galleries and perhaps transgression are now challenged by urban transformation. Experimentation, co-elaboration and exhibition are on the move and more scattered than ever. How to follow-up these new forms of emergence? Do they exist? Do we need some new concepts to figure out the endogenous relationships between urban configurations, culture production and culture consumption? Is the Scene concept (Straw, 2015) useful to renew the way we understand where novelties emerge and spill over its neighborhood? 

3.    Beyond creative cities: urban innovation regimes? 

Following Landry’s (2000) initial suggestions about what a creative city could/should be, the evolution of planning towards a less regulatory and a more innovative process is central. The way cities build strategic visions depends on the ability planners develop to sustain experimental and adaptive frameworks. How can ideas circulate from the grassroots of citizen practices to the formal and technocratic habitus of planning? Among the plethoric models that have emerged during the 2000s/2010s, the one championed by Cohendet et al. (2010, 2014) around the articulation of three active layers (underground, middleground, upperground) is enlightening. But can we identify other urban innovation regimes? Do we innovate in the same way from one city to another? Are there local urban innovation “routines” (governance, technology development, community involvement, etc.)? Who are the urban innovators: the members of local creative milieus or specific experts? What role does the “commons” should play in urban dynamics today?         


Overall, this first international workshop questions the future of creative cities: what were they? What will they become? The following themes may be concerned by the call:  

  • Geography of creativity;
  • Measuring Creativity;
  • Creativity in the peripheries;
  • Dynamic of artistic entrepreneurship;
  • Local and global value chain of entrepreneurship;
  • Networks, communities and innovation;
  • Role of middlegrounds as cross-specialization platforms;
  • Creative Cluster lifecycle and resilience;
  • Models of urban innovation;
  • Cultural and Creative Industries, smart specialization and inequalities;
  • Art, technology and gentrification;
  • Makers and Artists in the City;
  • Dynamics of urban scenes (cultural, tech, food, musical, etc);
  • Industrial policy related to creative and artistic sectors;
  • Cultural participation and citizen involvement;
  • Economics and Management of transitions;
  • Urban design, urban planning and creative activities; 
  • Commons and urban innovation


Key dates

Call for paper :
Submissions : 31 May 2020
Notifications of acceptance : 15 July 2020

8-10 October 2020 > 1-2 April 2021



This workshop is sponsored by :


Nantes MétropoleRFI OICPUCA 

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