Case Studies

Creative hubs from rural and peripheral areas across Europe are being addressed in order to acknowledge their impact in their territories and to understand the people and stories behind them. 

The emergence of creative hubs in rural and peripheral areas demands for more attention and dedicated actions from policy makers, both at local and EU level. Firstly, this should encourage institutions to align their definitions of rural and peripheral in order to have a shared view on the diverse European landscape, with its similarities and specificities. Secondly, this can accelerate a less urban-centric approach to creative and cultural work, acknowledging rural and peripheral areas as potential nodes of dense networks. The impact case studies of the ECHN community demonstrate that these areas can develop a unique attractiveness and counter that urban migration that has been depopulating many non-urban regions. A rural creative class exists and is populating more and more creative hubs that have a crucial role to play.

  • They activate local entrepreneurial ecosystems and, at the same time, connect the local dimension to a global community.
  • They tap into their territory’s heritage and legacy to develop new innovative practices.
  • They facilitate the dialogue among different actors, professionals and stakeholders, acting as local community facilitators.
  • They sense the community’s needs and are able to respond to them.

The European Creative Hubs Network has gathered more than 200 members, giving shape to a richly diverse community of hubs. Since its birth in 2016, ECHN has tried to track the most urgent themes and trends among creative hubs and the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) as a whole. One of the most significant trends that ECHN has identified is the ever-growing number of creative hubs settled in rural or peripheral areas across Europe. This trend has become so evident that ECHN has started to actively bring this topic into collective discourse with the CCIs, policy-makers and academia.

Besides setting rurality as one of the main themes of the Culture & Creativity Conference held in Porto in 2022, ECHN has also joined the Horizon 2020 research project Coral-ITN, which supports fifteen young researchers investigating the development of collaborative workspaces in rural and peripheral areas in the EU. There is no universally accepted definition of “rural” and “peripheral”, as this varies according to national standards or different conceptual frameworks. Some of the main outcomes of the Coral-ITN project show that many factors determine the rural and peripheral nature of a place, including the population (its density and its composition), materiality (urban and natural fabric) and remoteness (agglomeration and extension) - just to name the fundamental ones.