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.

Related Courses

ARTHIST 231/ECON 344/VMS 242 – History of Art Markets (Spring 2017)

ARTHIST 508S/ECON 321S/VMS 567S – Art and Markets (Spring 2017)

Anticipated Outcomes

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

Student Opportunities

Students will gain hands-on experience working with all aspects of data research (gathering, organizing, cleaning, visualizing and analyzing).

The team will include approximately five graduate students from economics, AAHVS and Computational Media Arts + Culture and 10 undergraduate students (preferred: seniors or juniors in economics, AAHVS, visual media studies, history, statistical science, Information Science + Information Studies, Markets & Management Studies; skills in statistics; econometrics; STATA; Tableau; OpenRefine; Excel; macro and microeconomics).

Students will be evaluated on their active participation at all meetings (biweekly) and workshops, as well as regular progress reports.


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


Independent study credit available for fall and spring semesters

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Patrick Herron, Trinity - Art, Art History & Visual Studies
Fiene Leunissen, Trinity - Art, Art History & Visual Studies*
Eric Monson, Duke Libraries - Data & Visualizaiton Services*
Lee Sorensen, Duke Libraries - Research & Instructional Services
Mark Thomas, Duke Libraries - Research & Instructional Services
Hans van Miegroet, Trinity - Art, Art History & Visual Studies*

Graduate Team Members

Kaylee Alexander, Graduate School - Art, Art History and Visual Studies*
Felipe Alvarez de Toledo, Graduate School - Art, Art History and Visual Studies

* denotes team leader