by Steven Flower

At the start of every calendar year a team of international students studying on the MA in European Urban Cultures*, visits Manchester to explore the linkage between the cultural and creative economy and urban regeneration. Over a period of three months, the students take in a set list of facts and figures, failures and success stories of culture led regeneration strategies in North West England, before moving over to Tallin, Estonia to complete the formal side of their Masters degree.

This has been taking place for the past 15 years, resulting in a rich body of evidence and research. When the course started, the study of cultural and creative industries was still emerging from the margins. Equally, there was also no Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, amongst others. Together with Dr Katie Milestone and Dr Robert Grimm, we felt the “set-list” had started to miss some of the exciting and emerging dynamics of Manchester.

So – with the help of a great many people locally, the Masters students of European Urban Cultures 2011 were asked to study, map, curate and reflect upon the bewildering amount of meetups, events, hackdays, seminars, workshops and get-togethers that now jump out from our calendars. Who organises these? Why? Where? How? And who bakes the cakes?!

What they found and discovered was a rich tapestry of interactions and opportunities taking place in both familiar and new spaces. From the large scale to the long tail, people are meeting, talking and doing.

This paper represents their findings and reflections over the first three months of 2011. By no means does it act as the definitive voice of this scene, but we hope it can contribute to the wider discussions around our city and how we interact. Plus, as a former student of this course many moons ago, it helps to keep this dialogue current and alive.

Steven Flower

* The MA in European Urban Cultures is a post-graduate programme jointly delivered by the Free University Brussels, Tilburg University in the Netherlands, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Estonian Academy of Arts.

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