Creative Industries and the Urban Environment (2017-2018)


The term creative or cultural industries refers to industries that combine the creation, production and commercialization of creative contents that are intangible and cultural in nature. Cultural industries generally include printing, publishing and multimedia art; audiovisual, phonographic and cinematographic productions; and art creation, marketing and design. The term encompasses a broad range of activities, including all kinds of cultural industries, artistic productions and local art markets in the urban environment.

Over the past ten years, Durham has witnessed a boom in a number of key cultural initiatives including the Durham Performing Arts Center and Golden Belt, among others. These have not only enriched the city’s image but have also attracted other creative ventures, and are often seen as triggers for the local economy.

Art markets are heavily dependent on local creative industry initiatives, regulatory environments and urban cultural developments. Which measurable factors within this urban fabric are driving creative production? Why do some places and times experience extraordinary levels of creativity? Is Durham one of these places? How do we measure local creativity? Is diversity a factor?

Project Description

This Bass Connections project will examine the relationship between urban development and cultural production in specific contemporary and historical contexts. Students will form interdisciplinary research teams to investigate case studies on creative industries in the urban environment of Durham.

The team will produce original research that will be presented at a student symposium in Spring 2018. Incorporating feedback from the symposium, team members will aim to produce papers of publishable quality by the end of the semester.

Over two semesters (Fall 2017 and Spring 2018), research teams will be guided by members of the Art and Markets course as well as external scholars who specialize in the contextualization of creative industries and art markets.

Anticipated Outcomes

Case studies, papers, sharing of results with the Duke community as well as senior city Officials, student symposium


Fall 2017 – Spring 2018

  • Fall 2017: Biweekly meetings and discussion sessions; workshops at the Duke Libraries and The Edge will familiarize students with research strategies and tools applicable to their projects; undergraduate workshops will provide students with feedback and training to push their research in the right direction
  • Spring 2018: Undergraduate workshops on a variety of data-gathering, methods and analytical tools; guests from peer institutions that specialize in cultural industry and art markets will provide additional feedback and expert guidance; a concluding symposium with an invited keynote speaker will showcase the completed projects

Team Outcomes to Date

Housing Values and the Creative Class: Economic Effects in Durham, N.C. (manuscript by Felipe Alvarez de Toledo)

Durham’s Creative Economy: Mapping the Arts, Creative Industries and the Creative Class in a Time of Rapid Urban Growth (manuscript by Laura Ritchie and Gentry Fitch)

Dollars in Durham: A First Glance at the Labor Economics of the Creative Class in Durham from 2005-2016 (manuscript by Jonathan Chapman and Jessica Chen)

Creative Industries and the Urban Environment (talk at Bass Connections Showcase by Jonathan Chapman and Laura Ritchie, April 18, 2018)

Creative Industries and the Urban Environment (poster by Jonathan Chapman, Jess Chen, Laura Ritchie, Gentry Fitch, Tatiana Ermakova), presented at Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018

Creative Industries and the Urban Environment (poster by Laura Ritchie, Gentry Fitch, Felipe Alvarez de Toledo, Ben Ayto, Dan Lilienthal, Mariana Frattaroli), presented at Bass Connections Showcase, April 18, 2018


Creative Industries and the Urban Environment


Jess Chen

This Team in the News

Watch Highlights from the 2018 Bass Connections Showcase

Bass Connections Showcase Presents Research Highlights from Durham to Malaysia

Join Us for Two Bass Connections Special Events on April 18 and 19

Investigating the Economics of Durham’s Arts Scene

See related team, Creative Industries and the Urban Environment (2018-2019).

Bass Connections team members

/faculty/staff Team Members

  • Patrick Herron, Arts & Sciences-Art, Art History, and Visual Studies
  • Fiene Leunissen, Arts & Sciences-Art, Art History, and Visual Studies*
  • Eric Monson, Duke Libraries*
  • Lee Sorensen, Duke Libraries
  • Mark Thomas, Duke Libraries
  • Hans van Miegroet, Arts & Sciences-Art, Art History, and Visual Studies*

/graduate Team Members

  • Kaylee Alexander, Art and Art History-PHD
  • Felipe Alvarez de Toledo, Art and Art History-PHD
  • Corinna Egdorf, German Studies-PHD
  • Laura Ritchie, Liberal Studies-AM

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Benjamin Ayto, Political Science (AB)
  • Jonathan Chapman, Economics (BS), Political Science (AB2)
  • Jessica Chen, Art History/Visual Arts (AB), Public Policy Studies (AB2)
  • Sini Chen, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Tatiana Ermakova, Computer Science (BS), Economics (BS2)
  • John Fitch, Mathematics (BS), History (AB2)
  • Marina Frattaroli, Art History (AB)
  • Dan Lilienthal, Psychology (AB), History (AB2)