The role of art in urban gentrification and regeneration: aesthetic, social and economic developments

Luca Palermo

Abstract


Cultural analyses of gentrification have identified the individual artist as an important agent in the initiation of gentrification processes: Public Art has been increasingly advocated on the basis of a series of supposed contributions to urban regeneration since the 1980s. A wide range of advocates have claimed that Public Art can help develop senses of identity, to develop senses of place, contribute to civic identity, address community needs, tackle social exclusion, possess educational value, promote social change, and encourage economic developments.This paper, throught the analysis of some study cases, would like to underline the importance of art, especially Public Art and its most recent developments, in urban gentrification and regeneration process. It is not only an aesthetic issue, but social and economic too. Regeneration is defined as the renewal, revival, revitalisation or transformation of a place or community. It is a response to decline, or degeneration. Regeneration is both a process and an outcome. It can have physical, economic and social dimensions, and the three commonly coexist.

Cultural policy, and in particular Public Art, can be inclusionary/exclusionary as part of the wider project of urban gentrification and regeneration and can improve the quality of public life and public spaces.

Many cities all around the world have looked at the Public Art such as a way to transform a space in a place. As case study I would like to describe the role of Public Art in regeneration and gentrification policies especially in the United Kingdom; for example Conventry Phoenix Initiative in Coventry, Blue Carpet and other initiatives in Newcastle upon Tyne, Up in the air and Further Up in the air in Liverpool and Sovereing Housing in Bristol. All these initiatives try to enhance the environment by creating a strong relationship and collaboration with the communities living there. They are interested in processes more than just in creating a work of art.

 

Gli studi culturali hanno individuato nell’attività del singolo artista un fondamentale punto di partenza nei processi di rinnovamento: l’arte pubblica a partire dagli anni Ottanta del secolo scorso è stata sempre più spesso scelta come strumento di rigenerazione urbana. Sono numerosi i contributi storici e critici che hanno dimostrato quanto l’arte pubblica riesca ad incidere sullo sviluppo dell’identità collettiva, del senso di appartenenza ad una comunità e, allo stesso tempo, riesca ad essere portavoce dei bisogni e delle necessità di una comunità, a permettere una forte inclusione sociale, a trasmettere valori educativi, a promuovere scambi sociali e ad essere volano di sviluppo economico territoriale.

Questo contributo, attraverso l’analisi di alcuni casi di studio, si pone come obiettivo quello di evidenziare l’importanza dell’arte, specialmente dell’arte pubblica e dei suoi più recenti sviluppi, nei processi di rigenerazione e rinnovamento urbano: non si tratta solo di una questione estetica, ma anche di andare ad incidere sul tessuto sociale ed economico delle zone interessate da questo tipo di interventi. La rigenerazione urbana, per tali ragioni, è, allo stesso tempo, un punto di arrivo e di partenza di processi nei quali le dimensioni artistiche, economiche e sociali coesistono e si influenzano. Le politiche culturali, specialmente quelle connesse alle pratiche dell’arte pubblica, riescono, dunque, ad accrescere e migliorare la qualità della vita e degli spazi pubblici.

Molte città in tutto il mondo si sono rivolte all’arte pubblica come strumento per trasformare un anonimo spazio in un luogo caratterizzato in maniera unica. Ho scelto di analizzare, come casi di studio, le politiche culturali legate all’arte pubblica messe in atto da alcune città del Regno Unito: l’iniziativa Coventry Phoenix della città di Coventry, Blue Carpert e altri progetti promossi dalla città di Newcastle upon Tyne, Up in the Air e Further Up in the Air fortemente volute dalla città di Liverpool. Tutte queste iniziative sono accomunate dal tentativo di migliorare l’ambiente urbano creando relazioni e collaborazioni con le comunità che di esso quotidianamente usufruiscono e che in esso vivono. 

 


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13138/2039-2362/753

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