Exploring the ‘transformative power’ of culture: regeneration, gentrification and social justice

The cultural economy forms a leading trajectory of urban development and has emerged as a key facet of globalising cities. Policies for the cultural economy have often positioned arts and culture as catalysts for urban regeneration, social inclusion and economic growth (Bianchini and Parkinson, 1993; Cameron and Coafee, 2005), but have produced – on evidence – highly uneven results, particularly with respect to labour market and employment impacts (Gill and Pratt, 2008; Williams, 2015), as well as processes of gentrification, social upgrading and dislocation (Zukin, 1982; Ley, 1996). In this session, we invite critical explorations of culture’s ‘transformative’ role in its engagement with urban development and social justice, addressing themes including but not limited to:

·       Analysis of culture-led regeneration or arts-led urban development

·       Studies of the links (or disconnection) between regeneration and gentrification

·       Explorations of arts funding and infrastructure

·       Constructions of social benefit

·       Deployment of information about relative poverty or deprivation

·       Associations between regeneration / gentrification rhetoric and the experiences of artists

·       The broader practical and affective impacts of area based stigma

·       Medium specific responses to the topic (e.g. photography, film, etc.)

The session draws attention to the greatly expanded involvement of government and governance in culture in the city, and explores how this underpins urban development outcomes that contribute to socio-spatial inequalities. Work that exposes the marginalisations, exclusions and injustices that are inscribed and naturalised within the cultural economy of the city will be welcomed, as well as those raising questions about justice in pursuing a cultural policy agenda potentiated by pervasive neo-liberalism in our own time.

Convenors and Contact:

Dr Anna McLauchlan, University of Leeds A.McLauchlan@Leeds.ac.uk

Kerri Arthurs, Leeds Beckett University/University of British Columbia k.arthurs5969@student.leedsbeckett.ac.uk