Culture v Creative Industries

2 Apr 2008 by Karl Hallam

Sheffield's aspiration for its very own version of the Angel of the North in some ways demonstrates some of the confusion between promoting culture and promoting creative industries. The 2 Toms, of the local go magazine, have been pushing the idea of turning the Tinsley Cooling Towers beside the M1 and Meadowhall into a huge piece of public art. This is a great, if not new idea, but their success in getting publicity has had one definite impact - current owners E.ON are definitely going to carry out the long-standing threat to knock them down.

E.ON are reportedly giving £500,000 for a piece of public art to take their place near the proposed new biomass power station. Local MP Richard Caborn has suggested a steel football and no, this is not being posted on 1 April. Caborn said: 'It's an opportunity to celebrate what Sheffield has given to the world. We have the world's oldest football club and we produced the first stainless steel.' One of the Toms compares the idea to replacing the Angel of the North with a bottle of Newcastle Brown made of coal: 'It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.'

In Cadence's consultation work on creative industries strategies we have found that the crowd who see CIs as potential economic drivers, like RDAs, are not necessarily committed to the idea that a vibrant, go-ahead cultural scene is vital. For example, might keeping the Towers and turning them into public art be key to attracting the very people who will set up and run creative businesses that will drive the local economy?

Perhaps the definition of the CIs by government is a source of this difficulty in squaring the cultural v creative circle, but it looks like the Towers will go regardless - and that does seem a bit sad to us.



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