Grassroots Creative Hubs: Urban Regeneration, Recovered Industrial Factories and Cultural Production in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro

Dinardi, Cecilia. 2019. Grassroots Creative Hubs: Urban Regeneration, Recovered Industrial Factories and Cultural Production in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. In: Rosalind Gill; Andy C. Pratt and Tarek E. Virani, eds. Creative Hubs in Question: Place, Space and Work in the Creative Economy. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 299-317. ISBN 9783030106522 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

This chapter examines the nature, functioning and politics of grassroots creative hubs as contained in refurbished industrial factories. The renewal and transformation of factories into arts and cultural venues has been a key feature of post-industrial urbanism in the last three decades. Examples abound across the world, from railway and power stations to post office buildings and chocolate factories, these recovered infrastructures have been re-signified as cultural facilities – performing or multi-arts centres, galleries, cultural centres, creative economy laboratories, incubators and museums. These initiatives, be that they are led by local governments or community groups, are part of broader urban strategies for revitalising historical centres, revalorising cultural heritage and creating work opportunities as well as resources for tourism and business investment. But can a factory building be considered a creative hub? Does the materiality of these urban artefacts provide a solution to the oftentransient nature of ephemeral cultural urbanism?

Refurbishing old industrial factories and warehouses for cultural use and creative production has been the subject of much investigation since the 1980s-1990s, mainly through the study of culture-led urban regeneration and gentrification (Zukin, 1989; Montgomery, 1995; Evans and Shaw, 2004; Mommaas, 2004; Pratt, 2009), and more recently, creative industry clusters and districts (Evans, 2009; Zukin and Braslow, 2011; O’Connor and Gu, 2012). These studies have pointed out the problems that arise from the organisation, management and long-term sustainability of converted industrial sites, as well as from the policy uses and abuses that often pave the way to real-estate development and social displacement.

Drawing on insights from urban sociology and critical geography, the chapter conducts a case-study analysis of two cultural and creative economy factories in Latin America: Fábrica Bhering in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and IMPA, la Fábrica Cultural in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The chapter is comprised of three sections: the first discusses whether recovered industrial factories can be thought of as creative hubs in relation to ephemeral cultural urbanism; the second examines the two case-studies in the context of Brazil and Argentina; and the third offers concluding remarks. Overall the chapter contributes a Latin American perspective on culture-led urban regeneration to the study of creative hubs. Particularly, grassroots creative initiatives of urban renewal are presented as an alternative to the exclusionary gentrification processes to which creative hubs and other territorial forms of creativity are often related to, in times largely shaped by neoliberal operations driven by real-estate interests and alliances between political and economic urban elites.

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Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)


23 March 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

17 Mar 2017 16:39

Last Modified:

23 Mar 2021 02:26


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