As a text on one of the posters glued to the wall of Andrejsala Singalong hostel in 2007 said, ”You can stay here forever if you succeed”. This is an utopian idea behind the creative quarters philosophy, which usually contradicts with the concept of creative quarters and their role in the society and urban development in the world. Riga, as many other cities in the world, like New York, London, Berlin or Stockholm, has and has had creative quarters in its various areas during different periods of time. Creative quarters are city districts, which initially are in condition lacking development, where relatively big amount of creative organisations is concentrated. These might be music or theatre studios, art spaces etc.
A comparatively low rental price paid by the quarter’s participants to the owners of the area, which includes land and usually abandoned premises, allows the tenants of a creative quarter to develop and realise their mission on a separate territory, as well as to collaborate with each other on organisation of mutually hosted exhibitions and other events.
A creative quarter – is a tool for the development of a city. Non-ordinary cultural activities, parties, workshops, and seminars, which are organised there, foster the attraction of a diverse city public and increase a popularity of an area, where economic and social activity because of some reasons was abolished.
The first successful example of Riga creative quarter was Andrejsala, which as a creative quarter existed several years starting from 2007. Currently, after the representatives of creative industries, its former tenants, moved away to other places in the city, it was transformed into a recreational area with entertainment venues, restaurants, and bars.
The second creative quarter appeared in Spīķeri district, where some of Andrejsala tenants, including Dirty Deal teatro and Dirty Deal café, which were a part of Dirty Deal independent cultural centre, co-existed with contemporary art gallery KIM? and quite famous META café for some more years. That time it was possible to see many independent theatrical performances there. Now there is a concert hall and different premises, which underwent a reconstruction and now are rented out to various shops and a film studio. A flea market is also held on this territory in warm seasons.
Another creative quarter was founded in VEF territory, which consists of former factory buildings with brick walls and very high ceilings. This hub for several years was a home to various artists and studios as well like independent furniture brand JUBKA and Totaldobže event space. This district was almost completely renovated and now is available for rent too for offices, non-commercial ogranisations and studios.
One more popular district is so called Miera street Republic, which in the mid 10s was proclaimed in internet media as one of the most famous hipster streets in Europe. It is not a creative quarter though, but it houses bars and shops, which might be considered as independent. Recently, nearby Tallinas quarter was established with various venues for music and art events. Riga circus festival chose it as one of the spots for its street circus shows. It is mostly popular among representatives of creative industries as a place for week-end time spending due to its quite late opening hours especially in the summer time.
Kalnciema quarter is also considered a creative quarter due to various open air concerts and exhibitions, which take place on its territory. Usually there is a farmer’s market held on weekends, where you can buy home made products and crafts.
The last but not least is Brasa creative quarter, where a creative activity took place too, including electronic music parties.
To conclude, renting out abandoned spaces to creative industries is usual worldwide practice, which is mutually beneficial for both the leaseholders and their tenants. The first ones get an opportunity to grow their projects, while the second ones are able to revitalise the area because of increased activity and arisen interest from the public. The only drawback of this model is its volatility for the tenants due to the short-term rent conditions, the necessity to invest without long-term opportunities, and need to find other places after the rent agreement is due.