Can ‘Culture’ Lead Regeneration?
Trying to disentangle ‘Culture’ and Regeneration is difficult, but the DCMS has published a Report which may help us to consider the issues more clearly.
Which comes first? Regeneration or ‘culture’?
The debate has now been going for some time, but a study by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) gives examples of how regeneration and culture interact from across the country – including several references to Liverpool as forthcoming European Capital of Culture, and to the experience of Glasgow, a previous Capital of Culture in 1990.
The study also tries to develop ways to measure the ‘real’ impact of culture on regeneration, and ‘to ensure that culture’s contribution to regeneration is maximised’.
Importantly, contributions to the debate have been invited not only from the experts, but also from others who are directly involved, whether they be arts practitioners or audiences, businesses big and small, or those living in communities in need of regeneration. Initial results of the consultation were published in early 2005.
The evidence currently available does not make it easy to demonstrate how far there are measurable direct effects on communities where cultural development and regeneration have occurred.
How can we measure the impact, positive or negative, of a development which raises expectations but in the end does not materialise? Does this promote interest in development anyway, or does it rather produce a cynical perception that everything is ‘hot air’? Is there a difference between Liverpool’s ill-fated Cloud, which will now not materialise, and the equally contentious Millennium Dome in London, which did? And how would we measure this?
Or how do we assess the long-term impact of an ‘artists’ quarter’, originally low-cost and ‘bohemian’, but now expensive to live in – and almost deserted because of this by the artists themselves, still surviving on low wages? Can we compare the experience of Islington-Hoxton in London, where this has already occurred, and, say, London Road in Liverpool, where it may yet happen?
And what about the impact of the arts on communities where there is little experience of formal culture as yet? Can visits by professional artists and performers – again as has happened alongside physical development such as the St Lukes Centre in London, and is now happening in for instance Liverpool’s Kensington area – help to raise the expectations of local children, and maybe also their elders? How would we tell?
Quality of life is not easily measured and answers to these questions are also not easy. But some pointers do exist.
Posted on October 12, 2005, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Equality, Diversity And Inclusion, HOPES: The Hope Street Association, Liverpool And Merseyside, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.