Using the power of creativity to unlock social capital and economic drivers

Cooper, Rachel and Coulton, Claire Julie and Dunn, Nicholas Simon (2016) Using the power of creativity to unlock social capital and economic drivers. In: Regional Studies Association Winter Conference 2016, 2016-11-242016-11-25, Holiday Inn Bloomsbury. (Unpublished)

Full text not available from this repository.


Over the last two decades, the government has recognised the ‘problem’ of the north, and broad narratives and plans such as the Northern Powerhouse and The Northern Way have been put forward to deal with deficits and inequalities in infrastructure, economy and health outcomes etc., only to fade away, as governments and ministers change. Political agendas rise and fall, but what can we do when these fail and problems remain? Recent research suggests that the Northern region has strong, individual cities, but that collectively, they do not compare to similar regions in Europe, and overall, the productivity gap in the North is 11% below the national average. In the North of England, a person’s chances of dying earlier than those who live in the South are higher. Home ownership is also becoming increasingly problematic in the North, with lower wages and higher levels of unemployment. Numerous neighbourhoods in the North witness some of the highest levels of social deprivation in England, and on average, people report lower levels of life satisfaction and wellbeing. Despite this, the North of England has strength and depth in its capabilities and competence to understand many of these issues. The North is home to eight of the UK’s leading research intensive universities, who have secured over £1.2bn for funding in urban research. But how can the universities ensure that the knowledge and expertise they have improves conditions and leads to solutions for real world problems? We suggest that one way to do this is to embed knowledge through design as a way to empower citizens to seek creative solutions that best meet the needs of the world they inhabit. At ImaginationLancaster, based at Lancaster University, we conduct applied research into people, places and their interactions. Our projects to date have included, Beyond the Castle and Creative Exchange. The former involved working with Lancaster City Council to use collaborative, co-design methods to re-think the a major public space and an ancient monument, both subject to competing interests from residents, visitors and the local council. The latter meanwhile connects pioneering companies and academic expertise to develop digital public space to provide new contexts for the experience economy. These projects are emblematic of innovative and creative relationships that bridge academia and wider society for mutual benefit and are vibrant case studies that engage with the notions of inclusion and liveability in the North.

Item Type:
Contribution to Conference (Paper)
Journal or Publication Title:
Regional Studies Association Winter Conference 2016
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
29 Nov 2016 14:12
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 14:20