Assessing the creativity of cities

Dr Ian McShane knows what makes creative cities tick - and he's putting that knowledge to good use for UNESCO.

Dr Ian McShane

Dr McShane, a Senior Research Fellow at RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research, was recently appointed to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network’s expert evaluation panel.

Over the coming months he will be reading and assessing applications from a diverse range of cities who want to be added to the current list, which includes Dublin and Melbourne (Cities of Literature), Sydney (City of Film), Ghent (City of Music), Buenos Aires (City of Design) and Chengdu (City of Gastronomy).

“The Creative Cities Network aims to foster cooperation amongst cities around the globe that have identified culture and the creative industries as a basis for sustainable urban development,” Dr McShane said.

“The network wants to promote diversity and excellence in creative expression, as well as access to cultural goods for disadvantaged urban populations.”

Culture played a major part in the development of cities, and it was important for the network to foster that, he said.

Network membership required ongoing work to ensure member cities were continuing to foster creativity.

Members provide a report to UNESCO each year, describing how they are meeting the program’s goals, and UNESCO hosts an annual conference to support and develop the network.

An historian by training, with extensive experience in the museum and cultural heritage fields, Dr McShane was hand-picked for the role, and joins a panel of advisors with expertise including urban planning, archaeology, architecture, cultural policy and more.

Along with assessing city applications, he is also working on two Australian Research Council-funded projects with a creative cities theme: one looking at how museums in Australia have contributed to changing perceptions of national identity, the other examining creative and sustainable ways for local communities to use school facilities.

The Creative Cities Network places members into seven categories: literature, cinema, music, crafts and folk art, design, gastronomy and media arts.

Melbourne became UNESCO’s second city of literature in 2008.

Originally published on RMIT News.