American economist and social scientist Richard Florida identifies ‘creative class’ as the key driving force for economic development in cities. He divides this creative crowd into Super-Creative Core: (e.g. science, engineering, education, computer programming, research, arts, design, media workers…) This Super-Creative Core is considered innovative, creating commercial products and consumer goods. Another group are Creative Professionals – including those who work in healthcare, business and finance, the legal sector, and education. A smaller group of ‘Bohemians’ is also considered as the part of the creative class. Florida argues that the Creative Class (composed of scientists and engineers, university professors, poets and architects, designers, artists, musicians, entertainers) is socially relevant because it has the ability to push local economic growth through innovation, new ideas, new technology and creative content.

In Cities and the Creative Class, Florida explains that for a city to attract the Creative Class, it must possess “the three ‘T’s”: Talent (a highly talented/educated/skilled population), Tolerance (a diverse community, which has a ‘live and let live’ ethos), and Technology (the technological infrastructure necessary to fuel an entrepreneurial culture). In Rise of the Creative Class, Florida argues that members of the Creative Class value meritocracy, diversity and individuality, and look for these characteristics when they relocate.

How can creative class contribute to the long-term prosperity and regeneration of Brussels?

Large presence of creative populations fosters open, dynamic, innovative and professional urban environment. This inevitably attracts more creative people, businesses and capital to move into the city. In a long-term perspective, this creates a stable process for city’s regeneration and prosperity. Florida suggests that cities should focus more on attracting and retaining high-quality talent, rather than primarily focusing on projects like shopping centers, iconic buildings, sport stadiums etc.

We believe that Brussels has a huge potential in this field. Lately many of the international press (New York Times, Deutsche Welle…) called Brussels as the ‘new Berlin’, focusing on the booming cultural and arts scene. However, much stronger incentives, vision and a strategic approach are needed, to show that Brussels has decided to firmly take this creativity-focused direction and get the city to a whole new level. These actions would boost attractivness of Brussels, contribute to the economic growth and help in strong positioning of the city/region brand.