The 15 years Lebanese civil war created a quick city decentralization, and destroyed the city center that was once a bustling social, cultural and economic hub. The city center regeneration plan failed to achieve its vision in recreating the unifying element of Beirut, leaving the city chattered in all possible ways. Life started to regenerate in the surrounding clusters around the city center, dividing the city into parts, and creating complex urban dynamics, where certain resistance is evident through some urban interventions. This is the clash between the ‘creative resistance’ and the ‘neoliberal investors’. This creates challenges to Beirut’s socio-cultural resilience, especially in terms of capacity to regenerate the cultural place. However, the creative actors seem to be the centre of discussion in the creative city debate, but there is a lack in understanding the role of creative actors in terms of promoting urban resilience from a social and cultural perspective, especially in Beirut, which is still suffering from unhealed wounds after the civil war. The objectives of this research mainly consist of developing an understanding of the impact of the actions of Beirut’s creative actors on the city’s social benefit; through understanding the stimulus, inputs, outputs, and interactions of creative actors in the cultural sector, within a complex context of strong power dynamics. This will help in building knowledge on how top-down and bottom-up forces interact in the case of Beirut. In other terms, this would entail looking for the facilitators and barriers for urban processes in the social and cultural sector that should advocate the city’s robustness in encountering shocks. A Comparative case study strategy was used for this study since this methodology allows examining a small number of units (Beirut’s cultural place regeneration) with assumed independent variables (creative actors) influencing the dependent variable (Socio-cultural resilience). The selected cases are the deserted City Centre of Beirut, were it is not expected to find socio-cultural resilience, unlike the neighbourhood of Mar Mikhael that visibly and presumably managed to regenerate a certain activity leading to the assumption that there is a certain level of socio-cultural resilience in that neighbourhood. The main source of data for this research is primary qualitative data collected through interviews with various identified actors. One of the main findings supports that creative actors are divided into three categories: the creative activists, the creative placemakers, and the creative entrepreneurs. They all influence socio-cultural resilience in a certain manner. Creative activism interventions are the ones that push the most towards resilience because they bring a social benefit and build a collective identity to a certain extent, due to the strong opposition of the contextual conditions and other actors. Creative placemaking interventions do not have a great positive or negative influence on resilience unless it is combined with creative activism. However, creative entrepreneurial activities can push towards collapse, due to the fact that this category is directly involved in the gentrification of neighborhoods with a clustering of creative industries. The same actor can fit in the three categories making the boundaries between them blurry. Therefore, decision makers have to support certain types of interventions and not certain actors in the city. In the case of Beirut Creative activism interventions have to be supported in order to further guide Beirut towards resilience since it is currently right on the edge of collapse, but still leaning towards resilience.

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Ruijsink, S. (Saskia), Lunetta, C. (Carolina)
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies

Saad, H.A. (Hala Abi). (2017, September). The creative actors influence on Beirut’s socio-cultural resilience.. Retrieved from