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Multiple Work Sites and City-wide Networks: a topological approach to understanding creative work

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This paper attempts to further spatial understandings of creative work by focusing on the inherent topology linking workplaces together. Topographical approaches to creative employment are advanced by reflecting on how creative activity is linked and enacted across space. Everyday realities of creative work mean that multiple locations are used (for rehearsal, exhibition, for networking or for performance). It is difficult to ascertain relationships between these places using conventional methods such as mapping census data. Instead, I draw on workplace data taken from a creative industry research project conducted in Darwin, a remote city in Australia's Northern Territory, where qualitative interviews and mental maps were combined. The analysis proffers two key advances. First, mental map interviews conducted with creative workers can yield, on average, a fivefold increase over census data in the number of important, everyday work sites reported by creative practitioners. This means more detail and subtlety can be woven into analysis. Second, a hierarchy of important intra and inter-suburban linkages can be mapped, revealing the city's creative topology and furthering breakdown of the 'creative inner/uncreative outer' urban binary. A topological approach reveals that rather than being CBD (central business district)-centric (which static readings of raw workplace counts per neighbourhood show) creativity is highly interconnected across the city. Such findings bolster the case for reimagining suburbs as vital and functional parts of the creative city. Rather than being typified as secondary to internal-CBD milieus, outer suburbs are highly connected, performing specialised roles in Darwin's creative topology.
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Keywords: Creative industry mapping; Darwin; GIS; creative work; interviews; networks; suburbs

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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