Mr JJ Gregory– 2015 Bronze medal winner (Best masters by research dissertation)

GerhardJames J. Gregory
Department of Geography Environmental Management and Energy Studies, Faculty of Science, University of Johannesburg

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Supervisor: Prof C.M. Rogerson

Over the past two decades creative industries have been seen as a lever for economic growth in the knowledge economy and catalyst for urban economic growth and regeneration. Despite ambiguity on defining creative industries the concept of creative industries spread globally in the 2000s. The uptake of creative industries globally was given considerable impetus by the emergence and popularisation during the early 2000s of the concepts of the ‘creative city’ and the ‘creative class’, which unleashed a wave of scholarly investigations about creative industries and urban development. Despite the international importance of creative industries for urban researchers, it is significant that recent reviews of research relating to urban geographical studies in South Africa give only marginal attention to issues around creative industries. The purpose of this research is to address this important knowledge gap in urban geographical studies of Johannesburg.

The study has three major objectives. First, this study seeks to analyse the size, structure and spatial organisation of creative industries in Johannesburg. Second, it aims to examine the organisational profile and key challenges facing creative businesses in central Johannesburg. Third, the research explores the impact and potential of creative industries for urban regeneration in central Johannesburg. The research demonstrates that creative industries are a significant segment of the service economy of South Africa’s most economically important city. In terms of structure of creative industries economy of Johannesburg the study points to the dominance of the segment of creative services. Spatially it was found that an uneven geography of creative industries exist across the city. The study disclosed that the greatest concentrations of creative industries occur in Sandton, Randburg and across the city’s Northern suburbs. It was disclosed, however, that there are different geographies for the different segments of creative industries. Some of the major industry challenges for creative industries in Johannesburg are accessing financial resources, accessing the correct space to operate in and accessing a market for creative goods and services. Location factors influencing creative industries in the inner city showed that creative businesses tend to choose a location based on its accessibility, diversity, affordability, proximity, trendiness and safety.

The research highlighted the Maboneng precinct as an example of inner-city space where creative industries have been used through property-led urban regeneration to reimagine and reinvigorate a declining post-industrial fringe area of central Johannesburg. Since the redevelopment of this precinct in the late 2000s, there has been a radical physical transformation in the area with many buildings redeveloped into mixed use spaces. The private developer opted for an integrated and holistic development and mostly purchased vacant buildings. This said, socio-economic polarisation and exclusionary processes were observed.