This is a copy of my book chapter which was published earlier this year in Creative Placemaking: Research, Theory and Practice (2018). The book is edited by Cara Courage and Anita McKeown and is published by Routledge.Read More
I took part in Communalities, urbanities and artistic commonalities - a symposium at Birkbeck School of Arts on 5th June 2018. This is a transcript of my talk. I billed it as the meeting of William Blake and Half Man Half Biscuit via a trip to Trumpton. There's a video to accompany the talk which I'll upload soon...Read More
I believe that there is not enough emphasis placed upon understanding the theoretical and historical perspectives and contexts of 'participation' that are, for me, crucially important to both practice and research that engages with people, place, power and politics. Similarly, I also believe that, whilst this field is situated within 'the social', there is not enough emphasis on how practice and research may fit with broader understandings of art and society, nor, for that matter, with wider theoretical from other interrelated disciplines. Too often I attend conferences or read articles about socially engaged art, participatory art and Creative People and Places only to find an often insular, narrow discussion of practice which often is positioned within existing frameworks of practice and research which themselves are often ultimately defined by the state.
This article therefore attempts to open up new ways of thinking about community development and social engagement in art programmes like Creative People and Places.Read More
This is my paper which I presented at the Northumbria-Sunderland AHRC Centre for Doctoral Training Art and Design Research Annual Conference at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead on 25th July 2017. Powerpoint and PDF versions can be downloaded here too...Read More
Two new reports were recently released about how the arts and creativity might engage with society and communities in more meaningful ways. The first was Rethinking Relationships – an enquiry into the civic role of arts organisations commissioned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; the second was Towards cultural democracy, commissioned by Kings College London. Both reveal, for me, different and yet loosely interrelated attempts to find new ways to advocate for the arts or “everyday creativity”. This is the first of two blog posts in which I begin to critically examine the reports. The focus here is on Rethinking Relationships.Read More
This article seeks to reveal the limitations of state-initiated arts and cultural projects as well as spurious notions of ‘empowerment’ by examining them in terms of homogeneity, universality and technocracy. It focuses on issues of instrumentalism with the arts and explores how state-initiated ‘community engagement’ programmes like Creative People and Places may effectively reproduce state agendas linked to social capital theory and thereby to neoliberalism. It asks a series of questions: Whose values really underpin cultural value? Who are ‘we’ and who are ‘we’ trying to ‘engage’? Whose culture are ‘we’ trying to (re)make and why? Do ‘we’ need new infrastructure; more managers? Do people in areas of low cultural engagement have their own forms of culture that some may just not consider ‘cultured’? If cultural democracy offers a different view of people power, so why is it loathed by the state?Read More
Did Assemble really play such a big part in Granby 4 Streets? How 'community-led' was the project? What was the role of the Community Land Trust? How did Assemble come to win the Turner Prize 2015? Who were the private social investors and what did they do to help make the project happen?
he intention here is to blow open the façade behind Granby 4 Streets, Assemble and the Turner Prize 2015 win.
his is a long read and part of my research into art-led regeneration projects that are often far more complex than is often portrayed.
argue that the media and art world picture of Assemble is overly simplistic and masks a far more complex and uncertain set of events that, ultimately, relied on 'mystery' private social investors to force local government to act in support of the project and to lever money from national grant funders.Read More
This is part two of a three-part series of posts about Opportunity Areas. Part one is here.
Part two explores Sarah Butler’s work in a little more detail. Creative consultations, writing stories for Creative People and Places, advocacy of socially engaged writing as part of regeneration agendas, poetry hoardings ‘covering’ demolished social housing sites whilst new builds spring up and working for the New Deal for Communities. It reveals, perhaps, how artists can be increasingly drawn into complicit relationships with local councils, the state, funders, charities, schools and property developers.Read More
This is a little part of a draft section of my PhD thesis. It examines Creative People and Places, particularly, their People, Place, Power: Increasing Arts Engagement conference, suggesting empowerment may not be all it's cracked up to be, especially when 'delivered' by state-sanctioned, instrumentalising arts organisations and artists - the foot soldiers of state social art provision...Read More
There have been a couple of reviews of the session in which my paper was one amongst many. I am a little disturbed by the blog post "Beyond creative placemaking: the wellbeing of future generations" by Julian Dobson from Urban Pollinators: a profit-making company that specialises in "regeneration and placemaking". Whilst his blog post does not name any of the paper authors, it is clearly critical of the position taken up by a number of the session presenters, including my own. I therefore feel a brief response is needed to clarify my position.Read More
I've just shared my full paper from the Association of American Geographers Conference here but I thought some people might like to see the PowerPoint with notes or rather, I would recommend, the film with me presenting my paper. (I presented it virtually, so this is exactly as the audience saw and heard it at the conference.)Read More
I've just presented my paper "Place Guarding: Activist and Social Practice Art - Direct Action Against Gentrification" at the Association of American Geographers Conference 2016 in San Francisco. I wasn't there. Made use of PowerPoint Mix! The PowerPoint and a nicer quality MP4 version will be available here very shortly. For now, here's my fully referenced paper with bibliography.Read More
Creative placemaking is no longer a friendly foil in the soft power arsenal of private property developers. It has been successfully institutionalised at every possible level from national governments to NGOs. Loosely threaded utopian hopes of democratic community building have been quickly woven into pretty bunting for insidious gentrification; winners’ pennants for the agents of systemic social cleansing.Read More