Tag Archives: creative city

Risk and trust in the cultural industries (Banks et al., 2000)

Article summary (thanks Fernando!)

Article Reference:

Banks, M., A. Lovatt, et al. (2000). “Risk and trust in the cultural industries.” Geoforum 31(4): 453-464.


Research goal

How risk and trust are defined, experienced and negotiated by cultural entrepreneurs in Manchester

• How trust facilitates and counters risks

• How the city contributes to business practices and everyday operations

Risk, trust, and the cultural sector

Cultural industries (CI)

•  Symbolic and ephemeral goods and values

• Subjective rationalities

• Signs, meanings, and senses of style

•  Innovative, entrepreneurial, flexible, ideas driven

•  Impact the city economy

• Cheap workspaces; the city fringe

•  Cheap rents, short contracts, a lot of sub-letting relying on dense networks

• Networks, clusters, embedded knowledge, informal infrastructures

•  Fertile empirical context for exploring risk and trust




Risk (Beck, 1992; Adams, 1995)

•  From an objective/scientific rationality to a more plural understanding

•  Uncertainties of today paradoxically created by the very growth of human knowledge (e.g. global warming, nuclear disasters)

•  Individualization of society as traditional structures dissolve

• Key institutions are losing their foundations

•  Forcing individual autonomy, “biography of choice”, or new forms of collective

•  Risks impacts as is perceived and handled by different social groups

• Risks are culturally constructed

• People develop systematic ways of dealing with insecurities

•  Renegotiation of social structure




Trust (Giddens 1990;1991)

•  “Active trust” in new social relations in “post-traditional” society

• New forms of social solidarity replace the old

• Social solidarity amid pressures of individualization

•  Reliance on internalized meanings based upon lived experiences

•  “Opening out” of the self to the other

• Subjective decisions and consciousness and identity formation of individuals and groups




•  A single-case of cultural entrepreneurs in Manchester

• Fashion, music, design, and promotion industries

•  Interviews with 50 entrepreneurs

•  How entrepreneurs handle risk and build trust, and how the social and the spatial relate to a city in transformation

Handling risk

•  As CI are in subjective and volatile markets of aesthetic judgements and creative relevance, they operate in a distinct and distinctive level of risk

•  Financial risks

• Investment for start-ups come more from subjective knowledge than tangible resources

•  Creative risks

• Becoming stale or creatively null

• Firms expansion counters some risks (administrative) but can jeopardize personal and creative control

• Some firms decide to stay small to take advantage of creativity and spaces of leisure

• Awareness of self, product, and market

•  Infrastructure risks

• Expert systems (e.g. banks) can be hostile to CI as they are not not prepared for them

• Lack of trust and personal risk is stronger due to lack of formal support structures

•  Need to develop informal and social networks of trust

Building trust

•  Heavy reliance on personal relations of trust as lack of formal infrastructure makes CI more vulnerable

•  Creativity and symbolic knowledge are primary concerns

• Intellectual property is major concern

• Ideas are most the valuable, if not the only, economic resource

• Primary value is symbolic resonance, which is difficult to safeguard

•  Dense social relations of trust develop in informal ways

• “Mentors,” friends, word of mouth, networking and interpersonal relation with the clients

•  Responses to “detraditionalized” risks

Spaces of risk and trust management

•  Constellation of rich culture and small entrepreneurs sharing knowledge and expertise, paying low rents have been crucial to improve the development of start-ups in the cultural sector

• Spatial interaction offset risk and trust

•  Dense social and spatial matrices

• Feeling of belonging and cohesive place attracts cultural entrepreneurs

•  Sense of place

•  “Café forums provide a sort of forum to allow that to breed […] Art graduates find that their first exhibition is not in an art gallery, you know, it’s in a café bar” (Interviewee)

•  External, social and professional ties within a small city area

• Consumption spaces, events, alliances favour collectiveness

•  “Idea factories” that produce new initiatives and collaborations

• Fabric of the city enables particular forms of creative interaction


•  Senses of risk and trust are constitutive of the whole and economic and social basis of cultural entrepreneurship

• In countering risks, new creative forms emerge

• New ties of trust break industry boundaries becoming part of the creative process leading to unforeseen collaborations and and/or new cultural products

• Personal and professional risk lead to new relationship of trust and collaboration

•  Risk and trust are embedded within unique working practices

• Negotiated in informal contexts, social networks, and social spaces outside the formal sector

• Central to choices not only in business but lifeworld more generally

•  Meanings in urban space can become recognized by others in possession of appropriate social and cultural capital, promoting wider impact

• The city is no longer only vertically integrated but open to MSE in clusters across the city

• Cheap rent districts of the city fringe are seen as indispensable resource to develop ideas, projects, and markets

• CI can offer potential to create employment and help consolidate new product bases essential for restructuring urban economies