Creative and Cultural Industries and Urban Revitalisation in the post-COVID era

BOP’s updated Handbook for the Inter-American Development Bank sets out strategies for sustainability and urban resilience

​The creative and cultural industries are a powerful catalyst for place-based renewal. They have the capacity to animate public spaces, to attract new customers, to encourage collaboration and to bring communities together.

But what happens when the social interaction they cultivate becomes a health risk, to be managed and restricted?

In 2019, we produced a practice-based handbook on the Creative and Cultural Industries in Urban Revitalisation for the Inter-American Development Bank. The Handbook is based on an international evidence review and distils lessons from over 20 case studies of creative industries-led urban revitalisation projects, stretching back over 30 years.

Just one year after publication and the outlook for the CCIs is drastically different. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent measures to contain the spread of the virus have resulted in a dramatic loss of revenue for cultural organisations and producers, many of whom have business models based on live interaction. Prolonged uncertainty is exacerbating the damage, threatening the CCIs like never before.

The scale of the disruption is unparalleled. Despite this, successful pre-pandemic urban revitalisation projects can offer key lessons when it comes to strengthening place-based resilience following the outbreak.

In a recent webinar hosted by the IDB, ‘Creative and Cultural Industries in Urban Revitalisation — strategies for sustainability, resilience and renewal’, we were joined by policy-makers and urban practitioners from Latin America, Europe and North America to present an updated version of the Handbook.

Discussion (summarised in the visual above) covered key Latin American and global examples of CCIs-based revitalisation and considered how the general principles behind urban renewal also apply to strategies for recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

We have highlighted a few of the key lessons below:

  • The CCIs should be regarded as an ‘eco-system’. City leaders need to understand the inter-connected nature of the CCIs with a particular place
  • All stakeholders -government, business and civil society- should be working together around a common vision
  • Knowledge-sharing platforms and formal channels of communication should be established between the sector and government to navigate an uncertain future
  • This is an opportunity to innovate — to try new approaches to uses of public space, to interact with audiences in new ways and to embrace digital technologies.

Conversations around urban renewal may have taken on a different — and more urgent — tone in 2020. Yet there is a huge body of knowledge cities can draw from as they adapt to the crisis.

The CCIs are a powerful and proven driver of sustainable revitalisation. Despite the uncertainty ahead, they can play a leading role in the recovery.

Read the handbook here.

Originally published at

We are a research and strategy consultancy specialising in culture and the creative industries.