Cultural districs and economic development
The aim of this paper is to analyze the economic properties as well as the institutions governing the start-up and the evolution of cultural districts. Cultural districts are a good example of economic development based on localized culture. The first part of the paper (sections 1-3) reviews the relationships between culture, viewed as an idiosyncratic good, and the theory of industrial districts. The sections 4-6 of the paper present a discussion of two models of cultural districts: the industrial cultural district (mainly based on positive externalities, localized culture, and traditions in “arts and crafts”), and the institutional cultural district (mainly based on property rights assignment and symbolic values). The section 7 deals with other models of quasi industrial-districts, namely the museum cultural district (mainly based on network externalities and the search for optimal size), and the metropolitan cultural district (mainly based on communication technology, performing arts, leisure time industries and e-commerce). Policy issues will be analyzed in the final section 8. The hypothesis of a possible convergence of all districts models towards the institutional district, based on the creation of a system of property rights as a means to protect localized production will be discussed.