Lynne Sagalyn

Cities as Entertainment Centers: Can Transformative Projects Create Place?

Coauthor(s): Amanda Johnson.


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In this paper, the authors explain how concentrated entertainment centers evolve in the United States, and how the interplay of public policy and market economics shapes development and catalyzes new identities. We are most interested in understanding what kinds of entertainment projects have been successful in effectuating urban transformation, and seek exploratory answers to a number of questions: Why is it that entertainment projects more often than not are sited in dense urban areas, though not necessarily in the core? Is a central location necessary for success? How does the accumulated social capital of a city predispose or predetermine the site of entertainment activity? In areas of the city where such accumulated social capital may not exist, areas where a "place" would have to be created by an invented destination activity, what kind of critical mass is necessary to support the transformative project? In other words, to what extent can a catalytic transformation project create the basis for a future accumulation of social capital? And what types of public policies and incentives are employed— and to what effect— to create the necessary market context for arts and entertainment-based transformative projects? All of which reduces to the question, can today's entertainment-oriented transformative projects create "place"?

Exact Citation:
Johnson, Amanda, and Lynne Sagalyn. "Cities as Entertainment Centers: Can Transformative Projects Create Place?." Columbia Business School, 2013.
Date: 2013