Creating Space: A re-evaluation of the role of culture in regeneration

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Institute of Communication Studies


This application proposes to conduct a critical review of the literature of the role of art and culture in the regeneration of urban places and communities. It will focus primarily on the academic literature, but, given the nature of the field, will also review relevant policy literature. Its starting point is that much of the academic literature argues that culturally-led regeneration efforts have often failed, at least in terms of delivering the widespread social benefits that many have promised. Too often these developments have led to rising land values, rising rents and the eventual eviction of low income households, artists and even small cultural businesses. The conflicts produced by these sort of gentrification processes is well covered in existing literature.

Given this, this critcal review proposes three areas for research that will take this debate in new and hopefully, fruitful directions:
1. To reconsider the idea of 'urban' in the cultural regeneration literature. Although the focus of much of the literature is on larger, urban centres; an emerging literature suggests a different, and perhaps more sustainable set of outcomes outside of these sites. What can we learn from literature on the role of culture suburbs, rural areas and small towns? What are the implications for larger cultural institutions often associated with metropolises? What cultural forms eg. craft or festivals are linked to regeneration in smaller towns and cities? What scale is most appropriate for cultural regeneration?
2. To present a global survey of the literature, which specifically seeks out work not limited to the UK and North American experience. What are the different models of urban regeneration arising in different global contexts? What are the links between urban regeneration and development in the Global South? Are there particular regional approaches eg. Latin America, that could form a distinctive approach to regeneration?
3. To consider the 'new politics of place' and its links to culture and urban regeneration. Movements such as Occupy have re-focussed attention on the importance of public space, community and conviviality, an element of cultural regeneration that has often been over-looked in the focus on new, built infrastructure. What, if anything, is the specific role for artists in this new politics? Beyond the 'flagship' building; what sort of cultural infrastructure really matters? What are the links between cultural and social movements in the new politics of place?

Planned Impact

This section not required under the terms and conditions of the call. Please see attached case for support.


10 25 50
Description The need for a new policy approach to questions of cultural regeneration, suitable for an age when the state has withdrawn from many of these activities
Exploitation Route I intend to work with local government and activist groups on developing this new policy narrative.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The report was quoted widely in the AHRC Summary Report of the Cultural Value Project (2016), which led to my inclusion on the Creative Industries Council, Regions Sub-Group from 2016 onwards
First Year Of Impact 2016
Impact Types Policy & public services