This article explores new avenues for academic research on the ‘creative city’. Creativity offers opportunities for urban development and the personal development of urban inhabitants, but its adoption in urban policy is frequently criticized for being welded to economic imperatives and a neoliberal agenda. Urban policymakers worldwide continue to adopt narrow conceptualizations of ‘creativity’ while largely ignoring extensive academic criticism of the concept, suggesting that academic concerns with creativity in urban policy need to be reoriented more effectively. This article develops four key theoretical points on the ‘creative city’ and creative urban policy. It argues that the focus of enquiry should shift towards a more in‐depth understanding of how ‘creativity’ is constructed, contested and performed in specific urban contexts, understanding the ‘creative policy gap’ between policymakers and those engaged in all kinds of creative practice, and developing forms of artistic intervention to attempt to make creative policymaking more inclusive and ‘creative’. These points are developed through a critique of the literature and some illustrative examples of people in creative occupations interacting with urban planners and policymakers in creative interventions.