creative cities: halifax

selected abstracts

Brian Hracs, Jill L Grant, Jeff Haggett, and Jesse Morton. 2011. A tale of two scenes: Civic capital and retaining musical talent in Toronto and Halifax. The Canadian Geographer 55(3)

Although Toronto has been the centre of the Canadian music industry for many decades, recent interviews reveal that industrial restructuring may be affecting the choices that musicians make about where to live and work. In the era of contemporary independent music production some smaller city-regions, like Halifax (Nova Scotia), are becoming more attractive to musicians. This article explores the ways in which musicians consider the economic and social dynamics of city-regions in making their location choices. Musicians recognize its advantages in size and economic opportunity, yet those in the music scene described Toronto as an intensely competitive, expensive, and difficult work environment. By contrast, respondents in Halifax talked about a supportive and collaborative community that welcomed newcomers, encouraged performance, and facilitated creativity. In the contemporary context where independent musicians are adopting new strategies to pursue their avocation, communities high in civic capital may gain an advantage in attracting and retaining talent.


Jill L Grant and Karin Kronstal. 2010. The social dynamics of attracting talent in Halifax. The Canadian Geographer 54(3): 347-365.

The article reports a case study of factors attracting and retaining talented and creative workers in Halifax, Nova Scotia. All categories of workers interviewed mentioned quality of place and amenities as a rationalization for their location preferences, but that could not fully explain their choices. For some occupations (like health research) talented people followed jobs; in other sectors (like music) talented workers migrated to a sympathetic locale with the right conditions for creative engagement; creative workers in some occupations (like those in built environment consulting) were more rooted in place. The social dynamics – that is, positive and collaborative social networks within key sectors a wider community perceived as welcoming and interesting-- make this mid-sized city attractive to talented workers. Local universities and a vibrant music scene generate a mutually reinforcing context that attracted mobile talented and creative workers to the city. Respondents noted Halifax’s lack of cultural diversity but did not report a perceived lack of tolerance as affecting their choices. In smaller cities, the social dynamics of place and workplace and the quality of life available may play more significant roles than tolerance in attracting and retaining talented workers, thus challenging a basic assumption of creative cities discourse.


Jill L Grant, Robyn Holme, Aaron Pettman. 2008. Global theory and local practice in planning in Halifax: the Seaport redevelopment. Planning, Practice & Research 23(4): 517-532

A case study of a redevelopment project in Halifax, Nova Scotia, illustrates the way in which creative governance facilitated collaboration and innovation in a region with a history of poor inter-governmental relations and fierce urban-rural rivalries. Thick local social networks, influential civic entrepreneurs, and the pervasive aura of the “creative cities” discourse provided an opportunity to bring the resources of three levels of government together to support the planning and development of a “cultural district” on the Halifax waterfront.