The rapid onset of new technologies and the expansion of globalization have greatly influenced the role of cities both in terms of economic development, processes of growth and competitive positioning. This process has highlighted the need for innovating or reformulating enhancement strategies relative to central environments as a whole. As a result, post-industrial urban nuclei, places in which ideas and persons circulate at high speed (Leadbeater, 1999), find themselves competing on the basis of criteria and parameters in part different and renewed as opposed to the past, where values of an immaterial kind are privileged and attributed greater value than ever before. In this new framework of reference, Culture, already envisaged by the EU as one of the cornerstones of unity in diversity, takes on specific strategic significance not only for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth but also as a factor of competiveness for the particular city involved. The latter thus sets out to exploit specifics and to project its image into future scenarios (Carta, 2007). Three constructs underpin this assumption geographically speaking: a) cultural identity catalyses creativity (EU, 2010) and thanks to its distinctive character is well able to contrast the homologating effects of globalization; b) creative cities are not only a more open, multicultural and multiethnic reality, but are above all, a knowledge economy that ensures the balance between territory specifics and the promoting of innovation; c) the irreversible transformation of the polis is decidedly a source of threat but at the same time, also of opportunity for built environments capable of grasping the prospects offered by such changes, recognizing in Culture a factor of competitiveness for creating an appropriate milieu. Consequently, by means of an interdisciplinary geographic-economic methodological approach, the study highlights how Culture - long the focus of attention in terms of European policies and strategies - can enable greater urban competiveness, attract capital, talent and ideas and in short, acquire the capacity to deal with contemporary social and environmental challenges.
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