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Urban Forum (2012) 23:4360

DOI 10.1007/s12132-012-9140-6

Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development:

Developments, Impacts and Challenges in Cape Town
Irma Booyens

Published online: 18 January 2012

# Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Abstract Creative industries are often regarded as avenues for urban regeneration,
economic development and job creation. The growth of creative industries is linked to
post-Fordist economic restructuring in cities. As a result, the economic base of cities
has moved away from manufacturing to knowledge-intensive and service-based
industries. While countries in the Global South generally contribute marginally to
the global economy, some countries are seeking to enhance their competitiveness in
the global environment and gain from opportunities presented by the creative
economy. Policymakers in the Global South have therefore adopted creative
industry policies, and often link these to social development outcomes. However,
this presents various challenges. The literature indicates that creative industries
can exacerbate existing inequalities and marginalise working class residents.
Furthermore, the benefits of creative urban renewal do not necessarily reach
poor communities. This paper contributes to debates regarding the role of
creative industries in the urban economies of cities in the Global South. This
reflects on the impacts of creative urban renewal, and the implications for social
development and policy. It also considers recent development and challenges
around creative industry promotion in Cape Town, with specific reference to the
city-fringe neighbourhood of Woodstock.
Keywords Creative industries . Cities . Inequality . Gentrification . Post-industrial .
Urban renewal

I. Booyens (*)
Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council,
Private Bag X9182, Cape Town 8000, South Africa
I. Booyens
Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies,
University of Johannesburg, PO Box 524, Auckland Park 2006, South Africa


I. Booyens

In recent years, there has been much academic and policy enthusiasm about the role
of creative industries in urban regeneration, economic development and job creation.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 2010)
indicates that trade in creative goods and services continue to grow despite the global
economic crises. World exports of creative goods and services amounted to $592
billion in 2008, with exports from Global South countries accounting for 43% of the
total trade. However, it is often assumed that the countries in the Global South have
less purpose and priority for creative industries since they have larger and more
important developmental challenges to address (Cunningham 2009). Nevertheless,
some of these countries are seeking to enhance their competiveness in the global
environment and gain from opportunities presented by the creative economy.
The UNCTAD (2010) suggests that creative industries are a feasible development
option for Global South countries since they are potential drivers of job creation,
innovation and social inclusion. These industries are furthermore expected to
diversify economies and enable countries to leapfrog into a dynamic sector of the
global economy. However, there are various challenges presented by the creative
economy. Even though the UNCTAD suggests that the creative economy in itself
is not a panacea, common confusion exists with regard to cultural policies and
their often conflicting objectives (Pratt 2008). Policymakers of the South typically
link creative industries with poverty alleviation, basic infrastructure development, the
enhancement of social inclusion and the promotion of cultural heritage and diversity
(Cunningham 2009). They often want to achieve the dual objectives of economic and
social development without understanding that different strategies and processes
underlie each (Pratt 2008). Moreover, there is a tendency to mimic strategies that
have been successful in Northern countries and cities, without due recognition of
local challenges. The literature indicates that creative urban renewal can exacerbate
exiting inequalities and marginalise poor people as a result of gentrification. This is
an important consideration in the South African context which cannot be ignored.
South Africa is often referred to as a threshold country with an emerging market.
Most threshold countries focus on knowledge-intensive goods and follow
knowledge-based strategies in order to catch up with global North countries. This
is seen in South Africa where national policies aim to transform the economy into a
knowledge-based economy (see Department of Science and Technology 2008).
Creative industries have also received policy recognition at national level.
Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban are the three creative city hubs in South
Africa (Evans 2009), and also the largest metropolitan cities in the country. Cape
Town is an aspiring global city which aims to increase its competiveness on the global
stage (Lemanski 2007). The city regards culture as a vehicle for local economic
development and urban regeneration (Creative Cape Town 2010; Evans 2009;
Rogerson 2006). Furthermore, Cape Town has recently embarked on promoting itself
as a creative city. Over the past decade, the city has experience inner city renewal. At
the same time, the service sectors have grown while the manufacturing sector has
declined. The creative and tourism sectors have grown also. Yet, Cape Town remains
a deeply divided and unequal city according to a recent report on the state of South
African cities (South African Cities Network 2011).

Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development


This paper contributes to debates regarding the role of creative industries in urban
economies of Global South cities. It challenges common perceptions that creative
urban renewal will spontaneously incur social benefits such as inclusive job creation,
the enhancement of social inclusion and the promotion of cultural diversity. It also
considers the challenges around creative industry promotion in Cape Town.
Furthermore, the paper contributes to gentrification debates by arguing that
gentrification in Woodstock is taking on a new flavour and that the process
has intensified over the last 56 years.1 It also suggests that locals do not benefit
significantly from creative industries in the neighbourhood.
This paper is structured as follows: Cities, Creative Industries and Clustering
section considers the rise of knowledge-based economies in post-Fordist cities, the
link between neo-liberalism and the emergence of creative industries and the factors
that gives rise to this. Section Creative Urban Renewal: Critical Reflections, Lessons
Learnt and Policy Implications reviews international literature and cases with a
focus on policy lessons to be learnt. Literature from the Global North, as well as
the South is taken into account. A brief overview of the South African policy
environment for creative industries is provided in South African Policy Environment
for Creative Industries section. This is followed by section Urban Renewal and
Creative Industries in Cape Town which reviews urban renewal in Cape Town, its
impacts and related strategies and initiatives. The case of Woodstock subsequently
illustrates the challenges of creative urban renewal in the local context. The paper
concludes with Policy Implications and Recommendations.

Cities, Creative Industries and Clustering

Post-Fordist economic restructuring has resulted in deindustrialisation in the cities of
the Global North (Walks 2001). As a result, the economic base of such cities has
moved away from manufacturing to service-based industries (Pratt 2009). This
restructuring is strongly tied to globalisation, whereby the financial and business
services are concentrated in a few Global Cities. Countries in the Global South
generally participate marginally in the global economy. However, many such
countries and cities strive to enhance their competiveness and ensure their survival
in the global economy by adopting neo-liberal policies.
Neo-liberal economic growth theories stress the importance of knowledge for
economic performance. New knowledge is expected to stimulate economic growth,
provide higher wages and greater employment opportunities, as well as enhance
a countrys competitiveness within the international environment (Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and Development 1996). Knowledge-intensive and
service-based industries are central to new economies, and are almost exclusively
city-based (Florida 2002). Within cities, inner city neighbourhoods and postindustrial areas are important locations for new economic development (Catungal et
al. 2009; Harris 2008).
Visser and Kotze (2008) indicate that there has been a general silence on gentrification in South African
cities with little measure or informed response to the impacts of gentrification in the local academic and
policy environment.


I. Booyens

Creative industries cluster in a small number of unique city areas (Pratt 2008).
Such area are usually post-industrial, inner or sub-central urban areas where creative
firms move into, occupy and re-use old industrial premises (Casellas and PallaresBarbera 2009; Pratt 2009; Sacco and Blessi 2009). Creative industries are
knowledge-rich and require high levels of skilled human input. They include all
cultural and artistic production and commercialisation (United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation 2006). Creative industries generally comprise
visual arts; music, dance and theatre; film, television and broadcasting; publishing,
printed and new media; advertising; architecture and design; designer fashion and
also cultural tourism. These industries are often organised as clusters of related firms
which share resources and collaborate on a project basis (Scott 2006). Creative
clusters are furthermore characterised by flexible and modular market structures,
the prevalence of entrepreneurial activity and the frequency of small and micro
enterprises (Evans 2009; Scott 2006; Wu 2005).
A combination of factors gives rise to the emergence of creative cities and
clusters within cities. Urban agglomeration is an important function of cities
which contributes to this, as indicated below. Factors for production such as skills,
transport, infrastructure, capital, markets and economic opportunities concentrate in
cities (Athey et al. 2007). The concentration of such factors provides the critical mass
required for human interaction. Interaction and proximity remain important
ingredients of creativity and innovation, despite the advantages of information
and communication technologies (ICT) (Hospers 2003; Wu 2005). Relatively short
distances and the dense communication systems of well-functioning cities
therefore support face-to-face communication which in turn fosters interaction
between individuals, firms and institutions (Johnson 2008). Due to these agglomeration economies, the largest metropolitan areas are often favoured in terms of
creative industry development (Scott 2006). However, even though the majority of
economic, institutional and technological change has occurred in urban areas, it
does not mean that all large cities will turn into creative spaces (Hospers 2003;
Johnson 2008).
Diversity, tolerance, instability and reputation are other contributing factors.
Florida (2002) indicates that creative persons are drawn to open, tolerant and diverse
cities. On the demand side, a diverse population that includes people with different
occupations, competencies and social backgrounds will create a high and differentiated
consumer demand (Johnson 2008). Moreover, creativity has historically emerged in
cities during times of instability, crisis, confrontation and social and intellectual
turbulence (Hospers 2003). In terms of reputation, a positive image as a creative
city will enhance a citys reputation and credibility (Hospers 2003). Location factors
such as climate, geography, natural resources, lifestyle and quality of life seem to
impact additionally on the growth of creative cities and industries (McCann 2007;
McGranahan and Wojan 2007).
This section indicates that the right combination of factors needs to be in place for
creative industries to develop. However, creative urban renewal has implications for
social development and policy, as discussed subsequently. Urban planners and
managers need to consider in these determining whether creative industries are the
most appropriate development option for their cities and if so, what the appropriate
policy responses are in their contexts.

Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development


Creative Urban Renewal: Critical Reflections, Lessons Learnt and Policy

Gentrification, Displacement and Inequality
Urban space in post-Fordist cities are becoming increasingly divided (Walks 2001).
Service industries cluster in inner city, and other business and financial districts,
following disinvestment in industrial activities. Gradually, such areas experience
urban renewal and property price increases. Gentrification sets in and these areas
become exclusive enclaves inhabited by elites and middle-class residents. Lower
income residents and firms are displaced as a result. Creative industries contribute to this phenomenon (McCann 2007; Pratt 2008; Scott 2006). Displacement
occurs on two levels. Firstly, the original residents are displaced when artists
move into an area (Sacco and Blessi 2009). Secondly, creative individuals and
firms, who were originally responsible for regeneration in an area, are then
displaced by high-income residents as a result of up-market residential development
(Catungal et al. 2009).
An example of this is the neighbourhood of Hoxton. Hoxton is located on the
eastern periphery of central London, north of the financial district called the City
(see Pratt 2009). This declining manufacturing area experienced urban renewal
during the 1990s when a group of young artists moved into the area to set up studio
and living space. They were attracted to the area because of the affordable industrial
space and its proximity to the City. Clubs, cinemas, shops and restaurants followed.
During the late 1990s, Hoxton became the epicentre of the new media sector in the
UK. Around the same time, cultural ambulance chasers (Pratt 2009:1053) started to
move into the area to consume the local culture. As a result, prices rose and this drove
artists and firms from the area. Their old studio spaces were converted into up-market
residential units. Today, Hoxton is still one of the poorest wards in London and the
jobs that used to provide livelihoods are gone.
Another example is Lower Parel, a manufacturing area north of the Mumbais
main financial district (see Harris 2008). This area was home to some of Indias
first spinning and weaving mills. Over the past two decades, many old industrial
buildings have been converted into offices and luxury residential developments.
New-built development has also occurred whereby industrial buildings were
demolished and replaced by shopping malls, office complexes and leisure facilities.
Renewal in this area results from influxes of global capital due to neo-liberal
urban policy and planning. Gentrification in this area has intensified sociospatial
These cases illustrates that a shift occurs from the industrial use of city space to
commercial use, and then to residential use as a result of gentrification. In the latter
case, economic opportunities are lost, lower income residents are displaced and
creative production is corroded. An important lesson is that gentrification seems to
have a larger impact on inequality in cities of the South, as illustrated by the case of
Lower Parel.2
Harris (2008) indicates that sociospatial inequality is more pronounced in Lower Parel than in the
comparative case, i.e. Bankside in London.


I. Booyens

Creative Urban Renewal and Social Development

The link between creative industries and social development are neither evident nor
spontaneous, even though policy and strategy documents raise expectations that
creative industries will contribute to poverty alleviation and incur social benefits.
Generally, creative industries do not directly benefit the less affluent communities in
urban environments (Ponzini and Rossi 2010). Furthermore, there is little evidence
that benefits will trickle down to ensure more jobs and socio-economic growth in
local communities (Pratt 2008). Uneducated or semi-skilled persons are unlikely to be
absorbed into the creative economy since the creative capabilities of people cannot be
harvested unless they are appropriately skilled. The development of an appropriate
knowledge and skills base to support creative industries is thus important to ensure
that more locals benefit from such industries.
Creative industries can leverage support for the development of basic infrastructure and services (Cunningham 2009). This is an important policy implication
for cities in the Global South. Policymakers can promote creative industries by
creating enabling environments which includes the provision of transport and communication infrastructure, as well as the provision of basic government services
(Athey et al. 2007; Hospers 2003; Wu 2005). This is especially important for cities
of the South where the delivery of basic government services is a growing burden. A
recent report reveals that South African cities are struggling to provide basic services
under the pressures of population and economic growth (South African Cities
Network 2011).
Another issue to consider is whether creative industries enhance cultural diversity
and social inclusion as echoed in policy documents. Culture-led policies, mapped on
experiences in the cities of the Global North, usually value culture primarily for its
economic contributions and urban regeneration potential (Catungal et al. 2009). As a
result, policies based on this approach do not necessarily foster culture in its own
right or enhance social inclusion. Furthermore, even though studies have shown that
cultural industries and the arts can address issues of social exclusion, these projects
do not usually generate great art or lots of money (Pratt 2008:115). However, in
some contexts, social benefits derived from creative industries may be as or more
important outcome than economic viability. Public policy intervention is essential in
this regard.
The case of Bicocco has important lessons in terms of social sustainability and
community involvement (see Sacco and Blessi 2009). The Bicocco district is located
in a former industrial, sub-central area in Milan. Social terms were included in
mixed-use developments from the planning stage. The area evolved into a new
hub for finance, high-technology production, research, leisure, services and
residential development. In addition, public facilities and initiatives were also
developeda new university, a new theatre, a contemporary gallery for visual
arts and an agency for coordinating local cultural initiatives. However, there has
been very little real participation by the original residents and are indications of
social fragmentation in the area.
Another case considered is Conservatria, a small district in the city of
Valena (see Matos and Lemos 2005). Conservatria is home to a vibrant
music industry which is closely linked to the tourism industry (the major

Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development


source of income in the area). The music is an artistic good, entrenched in the
local culture and its commercialisation is not necessarily sought. Even though
the clustering of musicians has been a spontaneous process, government have
employed initiatives to protect the cultural diversity and heritage of the area
and support events financially. However, the implementation of these initiatives
has been limited. The involvement of a wider set of agents in the development
and the implementation of initiatives is required to ensure that these are more
An important lesson to be learnt from both cases is that the direct involvement and
cooperation from the widest range of local actors are indispensible. Policy action can
bring about initiatives that result in social benefits, but the initial topdown initiative
should be balanced with bottomup participation. The case of Conservatria
illustrates further that cultural industries can enhance cultural diversity and
heritage if deliberate action is taken in this regard.
Policy Responses to Creative Urban Renewal
Policy responses to creative urban renewal differ from case to case and different
models are apparent in the literature as seen in the cases discussed. In the case of
Liberty Village in Toronto, redevelopment was shaped not only by creativity-focused
policies, but also by key developers and publicprivate partnerships (see Catungal et
al. 2009). Liberty Village is located on the western edge of inner Toronto. This
previous manufacturing area is now home to a cluster of design, film, television,
advertising and new media firms. The initial move of artists and new firms to the
area during the 1990s was an unplanned, spontaneous process. The area became
one of the fastest growing employment hubs in the city since. The City of
Toronto contributed to the redevelopment of the area by introducing mixed-use
zoning which allowed for new commercial uses of abandoned factories and
warehouses. The Liberty Village Business Improvement Area furthermore served
as a channel for improving security in the area and advocating for capital
improvement. Artscape, non-profit-organisation (NPO), advocated for and maintained
affordable spaces for artists in the area.
In Barcelona and Singapore, knowledge-based economic development is driven by
the public sector through deliberate policy interventions aimed at broader economic
development and creative city promotion. In Barcelona, the city council is the main
agent of development in the city (see Casellas and Pallares-Barbera 2009). The city
council has been active in the rezoning of old industrial areas, creating entities to
finance strategic planning, investing hugely in infrastructure and architecture,
investing in real estate and leading main urban projects. In Singapore, economic
development is also state-driven (Ho 2009). The government has been a key initiator
in developing infrastructure, establishing agencies, attracting foreign companies and
building institutions and manpower.
These cases indicate that creative industries developed spontaneously in some
cities, while renewal has been driven by more deliberate public policy interventions
in others. An important lesson is that long-term strategic development, as well as
broader economic and infrastructure development has contributed to the development
of creative clusters and cities in the cases discussed.


I. Booyens

South African Policy Environment for Creative Industries

Creative industries have received policy recognition at national level in South Africa.
The White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage of 1997 by the then Department of
Arts, Culture, Science and Technology was the first policy instrument for cultural
industries in South Africa. Several national policies, strategies and research studies by
various national departments followed. A strategic shift occurred from cultural to
creative industries, but the focus in practice remained predominantly on cultural
industries with design and tourism being added to the agenda.
South Africa, like other countries of the Global South, has linked creative industry
development with social objectives such as job creation, poverty alleviation and
community participation (Joffe and Newton 2007). Additional expectations, as
identified by this review, include the enhancement of urban renewal and cultural
diversity. This review also observed that creative industries have received attention
from different government departments, but integration appears to be lacking.
Rogerson (2006) indicates that, even though creative industries have received
policy recognition at national level, limited progress has been made in terms of actual
policy initiatives directly supporting creative industries. This is reiterated by Joffe and
Newton (2009) who indicate that clear policy directions to support creative industries
remain lacking. There have however been some developments at local level with
specific reference to Cape Town, as discussed subsequently.

Urban Renewal and Creative Industries in Cape Town

This section provides a discussion of urban renewal and creative industry promotion
in Cape Town. The impacts of urban renewal and recent strategies are reviewed.
Renewal in Woodstock, which is linked to creative industries, is also considered. The
discussion draws on selected findings from 22 semi-structured interviews conducted
with new media firms in Cape Town concerning their clustering and innovation
activities and more specifically on six qualitative interviews conducted in 2011.
The qualitative interviews were conducted with representatives from a nongovernmental agency, a sector association, an architect working in the area, city
planners, a skills development association and a design educator. A review of policy
and strategy documents, research studies, published literature, secondary data, media
articles and observations also inform the discussion.
Inner City Renewal and its Impacts
Cape Town is a vibrant city with an attractive natural and built environment. Over the
last decade, the inner city has experienced quick and dramatic urban renewal
(Lemanski 2007; Pirie 2007; Visser and Kotze 2008). As a result, the inner city has
been revived as an attractive investment, business, recreational, tourist, creative and
residential space. This mirrors international post-Fordist trends whereby finance,
insurance and business services cluster in the central city areas. In Cape Town, the
financial and business service sector has a high average annual growth rate and
currently constitutes about a third of the local economic base (City of Cape Town

Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development


2010; South African Cities Network 2011). Creative industries also have a strong
presence in the central city and city-fringe areas. In 2009, there were approximately
1,000 creative entities in these areas (Creative Cape Town 2009). The largest of the
creative industry sectors is film and television. Moreover, the tourism sector has
exhibited strong growth since the late 1990s. Increased international visitor numbers
has contributed to increased awareness about Cape Town as a destination and raised
the profile of the city.
Inner city renewal in Cape Town followed the introduction of the Central City
Improvement District (CCID) in the late 1990s. The Cape Town Partnership, a
publicprivate partnership (which includes the city council), was instrumental in
the establishment of the CCID and the main agent in driving urban renewal. Initial
steps were to clean up the inner city, improve public spaces and buildings, and reduce
crime. Increased local and international investment followed. Business parks, hotels
and new accommodation complexes arose alongside creative industries, as seen in
Green Point and the Foreshore where several publishing houses, advertising agencies
and design studios have gone up in old warehouses and shipping facilities. Recent
investments, linked to the Soccer World Cup in 2010, included improved transport
infrastructure (i.e. the Integrated Rapid Transit buses and routes), an upgrade of the
station precinct and the development of pedestrian walkways and bridges. Further
developments and infrastructure improvements following on from these are in the
Urban renewal is spilling over into industrial city-fringe areas such as Woodstock
and Observatory (see Fig. 1). Between 2004 and 2009, Cape Town had the highest
value of industrial building plans approved in South Africa (South African Cities
Network 2011). Developments included the conversion of industrial sites into office
and creative spaces, in addition to new-built developments (i.e. new office spaces,
mixed-use developments and high-density residential complexes).
The impacts of renewal include that the inner city is becoming ever more
expensive, exclusive and gentrified. This springs from planning frameworks and
the aspirations of business leaders to position the city within a neo-liberal
economy (Lemanski 2007; Visser and Kotze 2008). As a result, small segments of
the city have been redeveloped by providing infrastructure and encouraging exclusive
property development in areas where international firms cluster. However, this has
simply pushed social problems beyond the inner city boundaries to poorer areas
which remain under-resourced and marginalised (Lemanski 2007). Consequently,
income levels are high and population densities low in the inner city, while outlying
township areas have extreme low income levels and high population densities (City
of Cape Town 2010; South African Cities Network 2011). There are also higher
concentrations of skilled persons in the inner city and the southern suburbs (City of
Cape Town 2010). These disparities are symptoms of Apartheid planning policies.
However, neo-liberal renewal in the city arguably exacerbates this situation by
contributing further to polarisation and the displacement of poor and lower income
Another negative impact is a decline in the demand for working class skilled
labour coupled with a decline in manufacturing and the growth of service industries.
In Cape Town, manufacturing (i.e. textiles, clothing and food production) has been on
the decline since the mid-1980s (Lemanski 2007). As a result, the employment of


I. Booyens

Fig. 1 Cape Towns inner city and city-fringe areas

working class persons in manufacturing has decreased. On the other hand,

employment in the service industries has not been growing strongly (City of
Cape Town 2010). Nevertheless, manufacturing remains an important part of the
local economic base (South African Cities Network 2011). These are important
considerations for policymakers and city managers when it comes to promoting local
economic development and job creation in the city.
Creative Industry Strategies and Initiatives
A number of creative industry studies, strategies and initiatives for Cape Town and
the Western Cape have emerged over the last few years. Recent creative industry
strategies and initiatives, relevant to the paper, are outlined. A study by van Graan
(2005) profiled 13 cultural industry subsectors in order to inform the Micro Economic
Development Strategy for creative industries in the Western Cape. These included
architecture, design, fashion, festivals and events, heritage, language schools and
visual and performing arts. The study found that creative industries were labourintensive and estimated at the time that 50,000 people were employed in creative
industries in the Western Cape. The findings indicate that the characteristics of
creative industries in the Western Cape are very similar to those of their international

Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development


counterparts as found inter alia by Scott (2006). That is to say, creative firms tend
to be small and do not employ a great number of people, their income levels are
low, they make use of freelancers and part-time employees and they require
highly skilled staff.
The Central City Development Strategy (CCDS) was developed in 2007.
This strategy aimed to expand creative clusters in the central city and city
fringe areas, and reposition of the city as a leading centre for knowledge,
innovation, creativity and culture in Africa. An initiative that emerged from
the CCDS was the East City Design Initiative which is now known as The
Fringe. This project, which is currently under development with funding from
the provincial government, aims to establish as an innovation hub for design,
media and ICT firms in the inner city (Creative Cape Town 2010). This project
also aims to promote job creation among old, as well as new residents. Planners
recognise that the involvement of land owners and the engagement of existing
residents are of crucial importance to ensure social inclusivity. Proposed mechanisms
to counteract the negative effects of gentrification include the establishment of an
overlay zone. This will regulate the conservation of heritage in the area by
establishing a character precinct which will promote specific types of development.
There are also plans to develop parking areas outside the precinct to promote
pedestrianism, cycling and the use of bus services.
Cape Town recently won the bid for the World Design Capital Bid in 2014. This
will be a year-long programme which includes six signature events. The programme
will attract international design experts, industry representatives and the media. The
initiative aims to position Cape Town globally as a creative city. It is thus an
important place marketing and awareness creating exercise to showcase the design
potential of Cape Town, create global exposure and invite investment. Politicians are
hailing the economic growth, job creation and increased visitor attraction potential of
the initiative (Williams 2011).
In conclusion, the initiatives discussed follow neo-liberal tendencies to promote
Cape Town as a creative city and establish creative hubs. This study found that the
number of creative industry initiatives in Cape Town has increased and gained
momentum in recent years in conjunction with the growth of services. However,
initiatives have been small and seem to have had little impact. Cape Town has the
basic ingredients of a creative city, but limitations remain. There are only a few,
relatively small creative industry clusters in Cape Town. The city also has no
cohesive creative or design strategy and therefore no clear identity in this regard.
Furthermore, creative activities are haphazard, fragmented and lack integration.
Another issue is that creative spaces in Cape Town are neither inclusive nor
accessible, as seen inter alia in the case of Woodstock discussed subsequently.
With regards to The Fringe, city planners are planning to put measures in place
to ensure social inclusion and ameliorate the impact of gentrification. This is a
positive step forward for creative urban renewal in Cape Town.
Creative Urban Renewal in the Neighbourhood of Woodstock
Woodstock is situated on the eastern fringe of the central city, but falls within the
urban edge. The area is one of Cape Towns oldest inner city neighbourhoods and has


I. Booyens

always been racially mixed, even under Apartheid legislation. The neighbourhood is
a light industrial area, originally home to white and coloured working class families.
The area has experienced residential gentrification through the 1980s and into 1990s
when middle-class coloured families and white professionals started to move into
Lower and Upper Woodstock, respectively (Garside 1993). During the late 1990s, the
first artists, architects and small advertising enterprises became attracted to the area
(Garside 1993). A key finding of this study is that the establishment of creative
industries in Woodstock is an on-going trend which has increased over the 56 years.
Artists, creative firms and entrepreneurial business are increasingly investing in
industrial spaces and old Victorian cottages. Many large firms have also relocated
to the area and high-density residential units are being developed. The recent revival
of the area started in 2003 when the Woodstock Upliftment Project was established,
but intensified since the establishment of the Woodstock Improvement District (WID)
in 2005. The WID is an NPO which uses a levy charged by the city council, in
addition to property rates, to clean up and beautify the area. Reinvestment in the area
followed these developments. The area has become home to various creative
centre developments, cafs, restaurants, music venues and trendy shops. Young
professionals are following the creative craze, and property prices are increasing
steadily (Wenz 2009:16). Examples of industrial sites converted into creative spaces
include the Old Biscuit Mill, the Old Castle Brewery, Buchanan Square and the Old
Lion Match Factory (in Observatory). These complexes host art galleries, film and
photographic studios, film production companies, shops, restaurants and creative
office spaces. This corresponds with international trends whereby creative firms
establish themselves in city-fringe industrial premises. There are also a number
of new-built developments which includes hotels, office parks and mixed-use
There is evidence of creative sector clustering in the area which is an important
characteristic of creative firms. The following key creative sectors were identified:
media (including new media), advertising and design and film.3 The move of creative
firms and other small firms into the area can be ascribed to limited space and rising
costs in the central city (Wright 2010). The interviews with new media firms in
Woodstock indicated additionally that strategic clustering is another important
consideration for creative firms in choosing their locations. Other characteristics
of the new media cluster in Woodstock are indicated in Table 1.
The new media firms indicated that they have been in the area between 3 and
5 years. They were small enterprises with an average of 27 employees, and had
strong linkages with the film and television, as well as the traditional media
sectors in Cape Town. The majority of firms introduced new products or services
over the last 3 years and most firms had collaborations with both international
and local clients.
There are signs that gentrification is intensifying in the neighbourhood. This is
firstly seen in the gradual shift to commercial land use and the emergence of
high-density residential developments in the area. This shift is accompanied with
sharp increases in property prices which is a sign of gentrification associated
The interviews with new media firms in Cape Town indicated that Woodstock and Observatory, in
addition to Gardens in the inner city, are the two largest new media clusters in Cape Town.

Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development


Table 1 Characteristics of the new media cluster in Woodstock



Reason for choosing location

Affordability of commercial spaces, large facilities with parking

and strategic clustering (proximity to similar
firms in creative cluster).

Number of years in area

All firms interviewed indicated that they have been in the area
between 3 and 5 years.

Average number of employees

The firms interviewed had an average of 27 employees and can

thus be classified as small enterprises (less than 100 employees).

Linkages with other

creative industries

The firms interviewed had strong linkages with the film and TV,
and traditional media (i.e. print media and publishing) industries.


About two thirds of firms interviewed introduced new products or

services over the last 3 years.


Firms had as many local, as international partners.

Firms collaborated mostly with clients or customers, followed
by firms in their own cluster or sector, and then suppliers.

with the emergence of creative industries.4 Figure 2 provides property sale trends
for Woodstock over the last 10 years. Residential full title and sectional title sales
show upward trends since 2005, with sharp increases in the sale prices of commercial
properties.5 The average year-on-year growth rate of sale prices for commercial
properties was 24.6% between 2001 and 2010, while the growth rates for full title
and sectional title residential properties was 19.4% and 8.9%, respectively. These
figures also confirm that affordability of properties was an initial drawing factor for
creative industries, since sale prices grew from a relatively low base in 2001.
Secondly, there are further indications of gentrification other than significant property
price appreciation. These include the renovation of dilapidated buildings, an increase in
middle-class residents, a change in tenure from renting to owner occupation, upgrading
of middle and upper income areas and the displacement of lower-class households. A
1995 study found that the renewal process in Woodstock could not be classified as
gentrification at the time (Kotze and van der Merwe 2002).6 However, this paper
argues that significant changes have occurred since in this regard. As proxies for
gentrification, indicators were calculated based on Census 1996 and 2001 data.7 Between
1996 and 2001, the dwelling ownership rate8 increased from 52.8% to 65.2%;
the percentage of household above the national average annual income9 increased

The City Council points out that the shift to commercial land use and high-density residential developments
in the area are tendencies of creative urban redevelopment (City of Cape Town 2011).
This trend corresponds with the establishment of the WID in 2005 and is corroborated by the interviews
which point to the increased establishment of creative firms in area over the last 56 years.
This study by Kotze on gentrification in a number of Cape Towns inner city neighbourhoods
(which includes Woodstock), is the most detailed study of gentrification in any South African city to date (Visser
and Kotze 2008). It is also the most recent and detailed literature on the topic for Woodstock.
The data was obtained from the Quantec database. More recent data at sub-place level for Woodstock was
not available since the 2011 Census was still underway when the paper was being written.
Dwellings owned (either fully or partially paid off) divided by dwellings rented.
Annual average household income (current prices) was R48,139 in 1996 and R64,323 in 2001. These
averages, available from Global Insight Southern Africa, were used as benchmarks in the calculations.


I. Booyens

Median sale prices, R 000s


Sectionaltitle sales
Commercial sales


2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Fig. 2 Property sales in Woodstock at median sale prices, 20012010. Source: Authors graph from CMA
Info data (see

slightly from 41.3% to 43.8%; the percentage of skilled and professional workers10 in
the local labour force increased from 51.3% to 57.2%, and the number of
households decreased from 3,697 to 3,170. These indicators are signs of emerging
gentrification since 1996, i.e. a shift to higher dwelling ownership, higher incomes and
middle class residents. In addition, a displacement of residents occurred (as suggested
by a decrease in the number of households), the income status of the area as a
whole remained low, and employment decreased. In summary, the paper argues
that gentrification has intensified over the last decade as a result of recent
creative urban renewal in the area. This is seen in the sharp increases in property
values in recent years, and confirmed by the qualitative interviews and by the
Census indicators.
Creative urban renewal in the area presents various further challenges. Locals
seemingly do not benefit significantly, despite the growth of creative clusters.
Furthermore, while a wave of new residential and commercial development has
occurred in recent years in specific pockets of the neighbourhood, the area
remains underdeveloped on the whole. Creative spaces in Woodstock are scattered,
small and exclusive. Creative centre developments allow little interface with local
residents and provide very little opportunities for unskilled or semi skilled
persons in the area (Wenz 2009). The area remains relatively poor and a hot-spot
for crime and drugs; homelessness is rampant; and various degraded public and
industrial buildings are still found in the area.11 Creative developments neither

Legislators, senior officials, professionals, assistant professionals, technician and clerks.

This is clear from recent articles, reports and observations, i.e. crime soars in Woodstock (Weekend
Argus 2009); squatters occupy decapitated buildings and homelessness is rampant (Woodstock Improvement District 2011, online); families in Woodstock are being evicted because they cannot afford rising rents
(Western Cape Anti-eviction Campaign 2009).


Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development


enhance cultural diversity nor meet the needs of local residents (Qualitative interviews;
Wenz 2009). Furthermore, local residents are concerned about the conservation of
heritage in the area since historical buildings and facades are often destroyed
(Woodstock Residents Association 2011, online).
In conclusion, the paper contributes to the literature by indicating that the
nature of renewal and gentrification in Woodstock has changed dramatically
since the mid-1990s. The paper argues therefore that a move from first- to
third-wave gentrification is occurring at an increased rate. The initial residential
gentrification and move of artists to the area has been a spontaneous, haphazard
process. However, while third-wave gentrification is setting in whereby city
council and developers play a more systematic role. A topic for future research
is determining the full extent of this phenomenon. The paper also suggests that
gentrification is currently at a critical stage in Woodstock. The appropriate policy
action is therefore needed to slow down further gentrification whereby the
current working class residents and new creative firms are driven from the area.
Implications for policy and recommendations follow in the next section.

Policy Implications and Recommendations

While creative city promotion has been successful in some neo-liberal contexts in
post-Fordist cities, this approach is insufficient for ensuring inclusive job creation and
local economic development, as well as enhancing cultural diversity as expected by
policymakers, politicians and city planners. Making Cape Town more marketable and
attractive to foreign investors and visitors will not solve the citys persisting problems
(Lemanski 2007). Due recognition should be give to local challenges when designing
creative city and other economic or social development strategies. Broader policy
responses are required to enhance the economy, create jobs and alleviate poverty.
Furthermore, diversified approaches to local economic development are needed,
i.e. revisiting manufacturing as a sector for economic growth and job creation.
Nevertheless, since Cape Town certainly has creative city potential, specific
strategies are necessary to enhance creative industries and ensure that benefits are
spread more widely and evenly. The appropriate policy responses can manage
negative externalities such as gentrification and ensure social benefits such as job
creation for locals, basic infrastructure development, social inclusivity and the
promotion of cultural diversity and heritage. Social benefits will not be incurred
spontaneously and deliberate policy action is needed to ensure these. The following is
essential to strengthen creative industries in Cape Town12: political will to drive
policies, strategies and initiatives; improved direction of investments; improved
linkages between government departments and industry; and improved coordination
of education and training initiatives. Specific recommendations regarding the creation
of enabling environments and spreading benefits follow.
Urban policy makers and planners can make cities attractive to creative firms and
meet local needs by providing basic government services, improving infrastructure,
regulating development and improving the built environment and quality of place.

As informed by the interviews.


I. Booyens

Specific actions include rezoning to allow for mixed-use development in post-industrial

areas and government intervention to ensure support for cultural production in
such areas. Another important policy response is ensuring affordable commercial
spaces for the creative industries, which contribute to the local economy, and
curbing the rampant residential development through effective planning and
regulation. As seen in the literature, NPOs can intervene through planning
controls, and public funding can also secure the ownership of the properties for
the use of creative individuals and firms. There is a need for such interventions in Cape
Town, specifically in Woodstock.
The participation of communities in decision-making is essential for ensuring
social inclusion and long-term social sustainability. There is a need for neighbourhood,
creativity-based community programmes in Cape Town. Such programmes should
provide opportunities for the human development by enhancing creative, life and
entrepreneurship skills. Local community members thus need to be afforded with
opportunities to attain skills in order to be absorbed into new economic activities. An
identified initiative in this regard is craft production in industrial areas (i.e. Woodstock,
Observatory, Salt River). Other than providing opportunities for locals, such initiatives
will also boost the manufacturing sector. In order to stimulate production, craft can be
scaled up to enhance its functional value. In other words, traditional arts and craft can
inspire and/be incorporated into the design and manufacturing of commercial or
industrial goods. Programmes or incubators to upgrade arts and crafts, provide an
interface with industry and teach business skills with a focus on providing job
opportunities for locals is a recommendation in this regard.
There is also a need for improved technical and high level skills development, as
well as for the general improvement of education and training initiatives for the
creative industries, as identified by this study. There are currently two Sector
Education and Training Authorities supporting creative industries, i.e. Media,
Information and Communications Technology and Culture, Arts, Tourism Hospitality
and Sport. While training initiatives in ICT, craft and film have achieved the most
success to date, room for improvement remains. The involvement and commitment of
employers are essential to ensure the employability of trainees. Furthermore, better
networking between stakeholders is required and better awareness needs to be
created regarding existing training initiatives.
Public policy is required in terms of financially supporting culture in cities
(Minty 2007). This includes the development of public spaces to allow for cultural
production and neighbourhood engagement towards promoting cultural diversity. The
development and upgrading of libraries, community centres and theatres, as well as
training and recreation facilities, are therefore required. There is also a need for the
creation of events to celebrate cultural diversity (Cape Town Partnership and City of
Cape Town 2007). Existing cultural events in Cape Town tend to celebrate specific
cultures and do not necessarily promote cultural diversity. Furthermore, the engagement
of creative firms in programmes to enhance cultural diversity is also needed.
In conclusion, even though progress has been made in terms of urban regeneration
and creative industry promotion in Cape Town challenges remain. Further action is
required to ensure sufficient basic services and infrastructure development, and to
provide an enabling environment. Furthermore, not enough is being done to provide
real opportunities for locals to ensure inclusive development and promote cultural

Creative Industries, Inequality and Social Development


diversity. Debates around creative industries in South Africa need to be infused with
developmental aims which endeavour to involve and benefit as many end-users as
possible. There is a pronounced need for integrated, but yet focused strategies
towards achieving such objectives.
Acknowledgements The author wishes to thank the Human Science Research Council for the funding
that made this study possible. She also thanks the respondents who participated in the interviews, and the
reviewers for their critical and constructive comments on an earlier version of the paper. Further thanks to
her colleagues, Neo Molotja and Madalitso Phiri, for their respective inputs during the first phase of the
study and a special word of thanks to Wendy Job at the University of Johannesburg for creating the map.

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