Art, Creativity, and Economic Uplift

Facilitator: Sonia Hirt
In conversation with: Carol Becker

In this session, Professor Carol Becker reflects on the role of art and artists in urban revitalization. How have artists helped distressed cities? How have cities helped artists? Most of us are familiar with “success stories” like New York where artists deserve credit for bringing certain urban districts back to life, while often acting in opposition to restrictions that were imposed by urban planners. The artists, one may argue, were much more visionary than the planners. How can the artistic vision and imagination be applied to other cities? What would we know about cities and their revitalization if urban policy-makers involved artists more actively in the planning process? What is the actual value added that artists have brought to cities, not just because of how they have benefitted developers but in the gestures they have made to particular urban environments and the way in which they have related so specifically to place? Can the role of artists be understood if we apply Richard Florida’s “creative class” concept or does this concept fail to grasp the complexity of the artists’ contribution?

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