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Abstract: The concept of ‘creative cities’ is gaining increased prominence amongst urban planners and policymakers concerned with the linkages between economic development and the ‘soft’ attributes of cities. While definitions of what exactly constitutes ‘creative industries’ and who the members of a ‘creative class’ actually are continue to be contested, many key urban policy actors are focused on engendering changes in their cities that set them apart as ‘creative’. While stressing the need for a tolerant urban milieu, these strategies have also been associated in the literature with a series of detrimental outcomes, including the gentrification of lower-cost neighbourhoods, zerotolerance policing and the broader displacement of progressive and welfarist orientations in local politics and programmes. We provide an overview of recent attempts to implement creative cities ideas in five Australian cities (Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney) where eighty-two in-depth qualitative interviews were carried out involving a hundred city government, business and community stakeholders. The paper frames the potential benefits and pitfalls of incorporating creative cities ideas into urban governance structures and their reception by community and NGO groups, both in terms of the incorporation of these ideas into policy and practice, and in terms of their unintended social impacts.