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The paper is an ethnography of cultural workers from the contemporary art centre from Cluj-Napoca, Romania – The Paintbrush Factory. The one-decade existence of the alternative space contributed to a range of changes in the local cultural scene and evolved from a physical space into a resource for the city’s culture-led development strategy. It also became affected and reshaped by wider changes in terms of applied cultural policies. Cultural workers’ perspective, their precarity and their involvement in the local art scene influenced the current commodification and entrepreneurialisation of the cultural offer. The Paintbrush Factory’s expansion and contraction are vividly presented through the reflexive lenses of the cultural workers and managers, whose case-study could easily be regarded as a signal and a symbol of the deficient cultural policies mostly oriented to profit and lacking any local and long term-vision.


It is widely accepted that the cultural sector and the creative sector have an impact on the socio-economic revival of cities. They create urban images, form a specific creative milieu, generate new jobs, and organize urban space. The above-mentioned observations have been mainly referred to the largest cities. So far, small cities have not been the subject of similar considerations. As many studies have shown in recent years, the potential of culture for socio-economic development in small cities has been noticed more and more often. It refers mainly to countries in Western Europe or in North America where generally, in the 1980s, the cultural sector was perceived as a remedy for the problems of post-industrial cities. This paper discusses the role of culture in the development of small cities in Poland, i.e. in a country in which only after 1989 is it possible to consider local development managed by local communities. The paper aims at showing how local governments of small cities in Poland perceive the role of culture in their development. The study is based on the analysis of strategic documents dedicated to the development of individual cities. When analysed, strategic documents clearly indicate that local authorities in every city use and are planning to further use different types of cultural activities for the enhancement or development of selected elements included in the broadly-understood socio-economic development; however, only few small cities notice the wide array of opportunities for making the cultural sector a base for socio-economic development.

postcommunist urban transition , Urban Studies, 49 (1), 43–60. Szychta kreatywna w Muzeum Śląskim. Społeczne aspekty rewitalizacji (2017), Muzeum Śląskie w Katowicach, 13–15 [in Polish]. Temelová, J. (2007) Flagship developments and the physical upgrading of the post-socialist inner city: the Golden Angel Project in Prague, Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, 89 (2), 169–181. The Megasite Management Guideline (2014), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig. Trumbull, N.S. (2014) Culture-led development and conflict over urban space: reimag

prompt economic growth and development. Although Florida’s work is highly controversial and has been hotly disputed, Sacco et al. (2014: 2809) assert that “judging in terms of mass media exposure and worldwide consensus, the most successful culture-led developmental scheme available today is certainly Richard Florida’s creative class one”. Moreover, questions surrounding cultural policy and culture-led development based on Florida’s theories are of particular interest and importance given that governments around the world, including South Africa, are implementing