Creative Placemaking: Research, Theory and Practice out now

I am delighted to say that my third book, Creative Placemaking: Research, Theory and Practice is out now, and available to buy at online book stores and direct from the publisher in hardback and ebook form.

Co-edited with Dr Anita McKeown the curated book both deconstructs and reconstructs the field of creative placemaking from a global research and practice perspective, including a reflective piece from the people that coined the term, the legendary Anne Markusen and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus.

More information here, including a link to order, and TOC below.

CPM book.JPG

Table of Contents

 

Introduction Curating Research, Theory and Practice (Cara Courage and Anita McKeown)

 

Section One – Evolving Ecologies

1 - Creative Placemaking: Reflections on a 21st Century American Arts Policy Initiative, (Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus)

2 - Spaces of Vernacular Creativity Reconsidered, (Tim Edensor and Steve Millington)

 

Section Two – Dialogical Ecologies

3 - Turning local interests into local action: Community-Based Art and the case of Wrecked! On The Intertidal Zone, (Dominic Walker)

4 - Arrivals and Departures: Navigating an Emotional Landscape of Belonging and Displacement at Barangaroo in Sydney, Australia (Sarah Barns)

5 - A Case for Human-Scale Social Space in Mumbai (Aditi Nargundkar Pathak)

 

Section Three - Scalable Ecologies

6 - A Rural Case: Beyond Creative Placemaking (Margo Handwerker)

7 - Creative Placemaking in Peri-Urban Gothenburg – Mission Impossible? (Michael Landzelius and Peter Rundqvist)

8 - A Conversation between a Collaborating Artist and Curator: Placemaking, Socially Engaged Art, and Deep Investment in People (Jim Walker and Shauta Marsh)

 

Section 4 – Challenging Ecologies

9 - Temporary Spatial Object/Architecture as a Typology for Placemaking (Torange Khonsari)

10 - Place Guarding: Activist Art against Gentrification (Stephen Pritchard)

11 - Outros Espaços: Apathy and Lack of Engagement in Participatory Processes (Luísa Alpalhão)

 

Section 5 – Extending Ecologies

12 - Towards Beauty and a Civics Of Place: Notes From The Thriving Cities Project, (Anna Marazuela Kim and Joshua J Yates)

13 - From Indicators to Face Validity to Theory—and Back Again: Measuring Outcomes of U.S. Creative Placemaking Projects (Sunil Iyengar)

 

Conclusion Moving into the beyond – what’s next for creative placemaking? (Anita McKeown and Cara Courage)

CoDesRes – Discussant response

I recently had the pleasure of being the Discussant as part of CoDesRes: CoDesigning for resilience in rural development through P2P networks and STEAM place-based learning interventions session, convened by Dr Anita McKeown, at this year’s Royal Geographical Society annual conference in Cardiff.

CoDesRes (co-designing resilience) is a methodology and a project that brings a STEAM practice into the community and environmental justice setting. It’s a two-year Environmental Protection Agency (Ireland) funded project, situated in the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland, and led by a collaborative and interdisciplinary team of artists, scholars, engineers and marine biologists to iterate and trial the methodology for engaging communities to implement local responses to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 4,11,14 and 15. The project considers the rural has a role to play in the development of sustainable communities and cities by developing viable realistic alternatives to urban dwelling and supporting positive economic social and environmental links between the urban, peri-urban and rural areas.

The conference session was formed of four presentations from the project leads from University College Dublin, Ireland: CoDesRes: CoDesigning for resilience in rural development through P2P [peer-to-peer] networks and STEAM place-based learning interventions, Dr Anita McKeown; Inclusive design for land stewardship: Community engagement in coastal biodiversity management through p2p networks, Eleanor Turner; Marine Education; influencing youth education through STEAM place-based interventions, Lucy Hunt; and Waste as Resource; embedding circular economies in community contexts through STEAM place-based interventions, Colin Keogh.

Together, the presenters gave a deep-dive 360-degree purview of the project and their own academic, professional, personal and residential place in them. As audience, we couldn’t help but be charmed by the passion and dedication of the team and the community of which they were speaking of, are part of and are serving, by the first hand narrative given to us.

I was asked to respond to the project from my role at Tate Exchange, as a platform with a premise of interrogating how art and society interface and affect each other.

Much of the work of CoDesRes is with those young people in their transition school year. This is a an optional one-year school programme that can be taken in the year after the Junior Certificate in Ireland, and is not led by a formal curriculum. ‘Transition year’ struck me as an apt metaphor for the whole process that the communities of Iveragh are embarked upon through CoDesRes – a time of unscripted exploration, of learning in innovative ways and engaged in a conscious-raising step-change of self and society.

Here art was being used as a tool – something the funders and stakeholders both might expect and be familiar with – but also as an approach – something that may extend their understanding of the true value and agency of the ‘A’ in STEAM. In CoDesRes, the arts drive its generative, iterative, question-posing and solution-finding, explorative and inter- and trans-disciplinary process. Finding out by doing, playing to everyone’s expert positions – including that of the community being the expert in being the community – is the stuff of socially engaged arts, and at the core of CoDesRes. It was evident that in this, CoDesRes is on a journey with its communities of changing their view on what art is and what role art can play in society, and placing art as a driver in the blue, green and people (education, community development etc.) ecologies of Iveragh. Will this perspective change also be seen with the funders and policy-makers come the end of the project?

I am intrigued too to find out what the exponential outcomes of this project will be, come the end of its tenure. With the concern around rural population decline, it was heartening to see both Eleanor and Lucy returning to the place of their upbringing to share their skills and knowledge and love of place with its future generations and its current ones – Eleanor told a story of how a former teacher of hers, after joining her on a walking reading of the landscape commented that they had never understood the place like this before, even though they has been walking the area for decades. These women are leading by example, what effect will this have on the generation coming up behind them, seeing that they have a potential future there and seeing a different kind of leadership in action, and on the one above them in seeing and conveying that potential to their young people? It took CoDesRes to join together previously disparate projects across the peninsula and join as one its overlapping blue, green and people ecologies into one holistic one. This is one of the keys to success in precipitating pervasive cultural change, in becoming greater than the sum of its parts: change has already started in the first six months of CoDesRes, what will it have set in motion for its legacy at the end of its two years?

As any good conference session should do, it raised more questions than answers for me too, and in no particular order:

·         What is the art practice, specifically?

·         Is art changing the community?

·         Who are the peers in this process? Who are the collaborators needed? What are the gaps? Is there a baseline of collaborators needed to start and maintain a project?

·         How does CoDesRes critically problematize the notion of ‘sustainable development’?

·         What will be made of the autoethnographic methodology?

·         What are the funders stipulations, what do they see as success?

·         Is this methodology applicable to other situations? How could that be made so?

·         Is the duration long enough? What is long enough?

·         How to manage the multiple layers and purviews of this project, from policy, to schools, to local government.

·         Can this rural context talk to the urban one?

·         Is intergenerational conversation happening? Where and how?

·         Has this changed people’s relation to their place?

·         What does P2P practice integrity look like? what is its excellence?

·         What can sibling sectors learn from it? what do they have to change to work with it? would this put them off?

·         Language and definitions – lots of acronyms and layers of info, which is alienating, where is the point of access info this for people?

·         What does the place in 5, 10, 50 years look like? Will it have halted/reversed rural population decline for example?

·         How is the legacy sustained? Mention of a media legacy, how will the public be supported in marinating this? Has consideration been given to the emotional and physical labour required to sustain legacy? What is the expectation of this?

·         How will it affect all those structural/socio-political issues in the area that form its whole ecology? What is this projects role in/plan for that?

·         Work within and beyond the arts/different ways that art has become active over the last 60 years and how artists have changed our understanding of what art can be and what it can do: how can art make a difference to people’s lives and society?

·         How do the projects operate as methods?

·         How is CoDesRes being evaluated?

The presenters went a long way to answer these questions in their presentations and in the dynamic and engaged plenary discussion with the audience after, but as ever in the live setting of a project, I am mindful in my own practice of coming back to core questions as a means of generative development, reflection and evaluation. In CoDesRes I see a project team and methodology that shares that approach and is well on the way to co-creating a project that is changing ways of living and creating a sustainable ecological and community development legacy for the people of the Iveragh Peninsula.

More on CoDesRes can be found here and via Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.

 

CoDesRes also got me thinking about the grammar of social practice, the subject and object positions of place, its actors and themes, and I will continue to explore this in the coming months.

Creative Placemaking book out soon

I am delighted to say that my third book, Creative Placemaking: Research, Theory and Practice will be out for the start of September.

Co-edited with Dr Anita McKeown the curated book both deconstructs and reconstructs the field of creative placemaking from a global research and practice perspective, including a reflective piece from the people that coined the term, the legendary Anne Markusen and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus. 

More information here, including a link to pre-order, and TOC below. 

book cover.jpg

 

Table of Contents

Introduction Curating Research, Theory and Practice (Cara Courage and Anita McKeown) 

Section One – Evolving Ecologies 

  • 1 Creative Placemaking: Reflections on a 21st Century American Arts Policy Initiative, (Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa Nicodemus)
  • 2 Spaces of Vernacular Creativity Reconsidered, (Tim Edensor and Steve Millington) 

Section Two – Dialogical Ecologies

  • 3 Turning local interests into local action: Community-Based Art and the case of Wrecked! On The Intertidal Zone, (Dominic Walker)
  • 4 Arrivals and Departures: Navigating an Emotional Landscape of Belonging and Displacement at Barangaroo in Sydney, Australia (Sarah Barns)
  • 5 A Case for Human-Scale Social Space in Mumbai (Aditi Nargundkar Pathak) 

Section Three - Scalable Ecologies 

  • 6 A Rural Case: Beyond Creative Placemaking (Margo Handwerker)
  • 7 Creative Placemaking in Peri-Urban Gothenburg – Mission Impossible? (Michael Landzelius and Peter Rundqvist)
  • 8 A Conversation between a Collaborating Artist and Curator: Placemaking, Socially Engaged Art, and Deep Investment in People (Jim Walker and Shauta Marsh) 

Section 4 – Challenging Ecologies 

  • 9 Temporary Spatial Object/Architecture as a Typology for Placemaking (Torange Khonsari)
  • 10 Place Guarding: Activist Art against Gentrification (Stephen Pritchard)
  • 11 Outros Espaços: Apathy and Lack of Engagement in Participatory Processes (Luísa Alpalhão) 

Section 5 – Extending Ecologies 

  • 12 Towards Beauty and a Civics Of Place: Notes From The Thriving Cities Project, (Anna Marazuela Kim and Joshua J Yates)
  • 13 From Indicators to Face Validity to Theory—and Back Again: Measuring Outcomes of U.S. Creative Placemaking Projects (Sunil Iyengar)

Conclusion Moving into the beyond – what’s next for creative placemaking? (Anita McKeown and Cara Courage)

Theatres Trust keynote - notes

It was an honour and a joy to give the opening keynote at this years Theatres Trust annual conference, on the topic of placemaking. The day was packed full of fascinating, inspiring and useful case studies of projects up and down the country, a great insight into how others are approaching the placemaking challenges in their areas, a very beneficial knowledge exchange.

Thank you to Jon Morgan and team for putting it all together and creating a programme that really got to grips with the subject matter across a diverse cohort of stakeholders. 

The slides and notes from my keynote can be found here, defining what placemaking is, what placemaking means for theatres and theatre practitioners, and challenges for the future. 

 

(c) Alex Brenner, no use without credit, Theatres Trust Conference 2017 (_DSC0034).jpg

Theatres Trust keynote

In October, I will be giving a keynote at the 2017 Theatre's Trust conference - I am delighted to be talking to such an audience and looking forward to the other speakers and the conversations that will arise throughout the day.

The conference this year focuses on placemaking and theatres and I will be talking about the agency of theatres in place-based work and the role of theatre buildings in placemaking. 

Further information on the conference can be found here and tickets are on sale. 

Placemaking isn't...

A keynote I am currently writing has got me thinking on what placemaking isn't, a a way to define what it is.  

Placemaking isn’t...

Putting a sculpture into a square. That’s public art.

Putting a building into a city. That’s architecture.

Putting a procession down a street. That’s live art.

Putting on events outside. That’s a festival.

Putting art on buildings. That’s street art.

Putting a workshop in a community. That’s community art.

Putting a bench on a street. That’s urban design.

Institute of Place Management paper

I recently presented on my placemaking typology and the agency of social practice placemaking at the Institute of Place Management's (based at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK) annual conference, this year focused on inclusove placemaking. 

Thank you to all in the room for the enthusiasm with which this was revived and also for the great questions and conversations that followed. 

Link here to the slidedeck and notes

 
Placemaking typology SPPM Jan 2015.jpg

Placemaking Typology paper at Inclusive Placemaking conference

The Institute of Place Management, based at Manchester Metropolitan University, is holding its fourth International Biennial Conference, this time with the theme of 'inclusive placemaking'. 

I am presenting on the Thursday on the subject of the placemaking typology created as part of my PhD. My paper, Creative placemaking: A typology of placemaking through the prism of arts practices and processes, is part of the 'Arts/Anchors - Placemaking, arts and culture/music' strand, and I will be presenting alongside Jan Brown (Creative placemaking using music: Supporting the development of a community-led approach to music policy in the city of Liverpool, UK) and Justyna Anders and Marta Herezniak (Community-bonding and placemaking function of music in the strategies of creative cities). Keynote speakers are Ethan Kent, from Project for Public Spaces and Phil Prentice from Scotland's Towns Partnership.

Full conference information and its programme can be found here

TEDxIndianapolis talk now online

This April, I was part of TEDxIndianaplis, talking on the scale of placemaking from the bottom-up, the placemaking and civic agency of local people and of artists. 

The talk is now online and can be viewed here

It was an honour to be asked to participate and to be on that stage, shared with so many great speakers that day, as it felt like a home-from-home homecoming. The place and the people of Indy, not least those of Big Car, have had such an important and inspirational role in my PhD research and since, I was able to give something back to them in this tribute. 

 

 

Arts in Place - free for the next 60 days!

In collaboration with Readcube, my Arts in Place book on my research into social practice placemaking and case studies in London, Dublin and Indianpailos, published with Routledge, is available for free download for the next 60 days. 

Its in PDF form and can be downloaded here

 

IJAMCP paper

I have a paper published in Volume 4 of the Irish Journal of Arts Management and Cultural Policy. The paper focuses on my Dublin case study research as part of my PhD, Art Tunnel Smithfield, and is concerned with art practice, process, and new urbanism in Dublin. 

The journal is open access and the paper available to download

 

Abstract

This paper presents research with Art Tunnel Smithfield (ATS), Dublin, positioning it in Dublin-wide placemaking practices, and situating it within the city’s tracts of vacant land and Dublin’s bespoke new urbanism. It focuses on the project as a form of social arts practice, giving examples of arts activities and agencies in the space, and locating the work within placemaking typology as ‘social practice placemaking’ (SPPM). SPPM is conceptualised as an extension of participatory public/new genre public art (Lacy, 2008) to a ‘new situationism’ (Doherty, 2004). This perspective views the co-production of art as constructive of new spatial configurations and emergent relations between users and space. Locating this work in the socio-politics of urban life, SPPM has to be understood as an art form that dematerializes the built object and is concerned with creative and social processes and outcomes.

Creative Placemaking and Beyond book

I am delighted to say that Dr Anita McKeown and I will be publishing a book of papers from our conference sessions at Royal Geographic Society and American Association of Geographers, Creative Placemaking and Beyond. The book will be out Spring 2018, published by Routledge. 

The arts-driven placemaking sector has reached a moment in both maturity and diversity where it demands a critique and deeper understanding of practice. Specifically focusing on notions of creative placemaking (Markusen & Gadwa, 2010) and Social Practice Placemaking (Courage, 2016) towards arts-led resilient practices (McKeown, 2015 ), this book addresses the vital need for theorists to be in dialogue with practitioners to create dynamic feedback loops that inform theory and practice .

This book curates a range of scholars and artist-scholars to present socially practiced, co-produced and citizen-led placemakings as a response to a bottom-up need or desire rather than a top-down imposition, with artists, participants and a range of creatives and other professions form ecologies of practice. If Creative Placemaking is to contribute to places-in-the-making (Silberberg, 2013) and encourage citizen-led agency new conceptual frameworks and practical methodologies will be required, advocating transdisciplinary, resilient processes and new models of theory and practice.  

 

CfP RFS 2017: Decolonising placemaking knowledges: considering global placemaking

Convenors: Dr Cara Courage, and Dr Anita McKeown

Paper/panel session at Royal Geographical Society 2017 Annual International Conference, London, Tuesday 29 August to Friday 1 September 2017.

Placemaking as a practice and philosophy has been written about extensively since the 1970s, in the main by US, UK and European scholars and practitioners. This session aims to open the consideration of placemaking from a global perspective, through papers from global practitioners and projects from the non-Western, non-Northern hemisphere.

Attempts to humanise the process of spatial planning and design (Healey, 2011, 2010) has evolved with the re-emergence of the importance of place (Casey, 1998) and post-colonial discourse. The potential to engage creative, collaborative and ecological practices within placemaking’s processes (Schneekloth and Shibley, 1995; Silberberg, 2013; Wright, 2005) become necessities if we are to combat the negative impacts of planetary urbanisation, anthropocentric climate change and social justice and cohesion.

Broader philosophical definitions such as ‘retrospective world-building’ (Basso, 1996:5) the creation of a meaningful humanly authored world (Tuan, 1976), ‘daily acts of renovating, maintaining, and representing the places that sustain us" (Schneekloth and Shibley, 1995:274) and ‘to create a sense of belonging through place’ (Silberberg, 2013) further complicate the relationship between professionals, residents and the practice of placemaking.

From this perspective what placemaking knowledges have yet to be integrated into current practices and thinking? How might global placemaking, in particular practices and processes of placemaking from non-Western/non-Northern hemisphere countries, Indigenous practices, feminist practices and more expand the current discourse?

The session forms a panel/paper session from a broad range of fields and perspectives presenting short provocations that explore and share the concerns of such practices and how these practices can lead thinking on issues in placemaking faced in US/UK/Europe today. The panel/papers will be followed by world café breakout sessions to discuss the issues raised by the panellists with the sessions attendees.

If you are interested in joining the panel/submitting a paper, please submit an abstract for consideration, of no more than 250 words, with a short biog, by Friday, 10th February, to cara@caracourage.net and anita@smartlab-ie.com.

Successful applicants will be informed by 13th February, to confirm attendance by 16th February. Regretfully, particularly in light of the topic, no funding is available to support national or international travel so those interested should only submit an abstract if they are able to self/institution/organisation fund. 

Creative Placemaking metrics research with UVA

This month I start a new research role, with University of Virginia, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and the Thriving Cities Project, a three-phased project that is looking at the scope of creative placemaking.

Over the past several years, the rise of creative placemaking (CPM) within community development has captured the attention of artists, cities, and community activists. However, as CPM has gained popularity, questions over the definition and effectiveness of CPM have grown. At this point in time, there is a need within the fields of the arts and community development to draw the various scholarly and popular definitions and assessments of Creative Placemaking (CPM) into one place. The scope of this project is provide the foundational work for collecting and examining the different approaches and designations of CPM into one place.

The first phase of the project is a mapping CPM field. That is, what are the main uses and major theoretical camps of CPM and how is CPM often deployed in practice and by whom? What too are the determinants of success (i.e. what metrics are used in evaluation) that accompany the different variations of CPM?

The second phase will identify gaps in the field, what CPM as a whole often misses in relation to art and community development, its unchallenged assumptions, and known deficits. This phase will then go on to signpost emerging frontiers of research, practice, and assessment that are either aiming to fill the gaps articulated or that are happening in response to other developments.

The third and final phase will offer interpretations and recommendations. The interpretation will be of the conceptualization and corresponding quantitative and qualitative assessment of CPM. The recommendations will offer a slate of 10-15 best metrics (along with rationales) for evaluating CPM projects in particular and cultural vitality in general.

The research questions are as follows:

1.       How is creative placemaking defined? What, if any, are the main theoretical camps in these definitions?

2.       What claims are made of creative placemaking outcomes and outputs?

3.       How is creative placemaking measured? What are the metrics applied? What are the gaps or anomalies in this activity?

4.       What creative placemaking projects represent best practice in outcomes/outputs and evaluations/metrics?

If you would like to contribute to this research, by way of sources, definitions, project examples, metric examples (either in placemaking or from another sector that would be a source of learning) or opinion for example, please get in touch. Please also share this post with colleagues far and wide.

The research project will be completed by January 2017.

If you would like to be part of this project, please contact Cara via this website or email me via clc5ee@virginia.edu. 

2016 conferences

 

January 2016 sees me delivering a paper, Performative architecture: reclaiming a vital architectural practice (abstract below) at the All-Ireland Architecture Research Group annual conference; and then talk about my PhD research, in relation to community groups making change in their built environment, at the British Academy-funded Landscaping Change conference, organised by Dr Samantha Walton at Bath Spa University. I will also be returning to the American Association of Geographers annual conference in March/April, co-convening a session, Creative Placemaking and Beyond, with National College of Art and Design, Dublin’s Anita McKeown (abstract below, and more details on that will follow).

Landscaping Change conference takes place at the Arnolfini, Bristol, on 1st January.

AIARG conference takes place in Cork, 29th and 30th January.

AAG conference takes place in San Francisco, 9th March to 2nd April.

 

AIARG abstract:

Performative architecture: reclaiming a vital architectural practice

This paper will present performativity in architecture as an emplaced social arts practice, performed on the margins of formal urban space and architectural practice in liminal and meanwhile spaces, a critical spatial practice (Rendell 2006) in the urban public realm.

The paper will locate this thinking in contemporary practices of ‘social practice placemaking’ (SPPM) (Courage 2014) and will draw on global examples of SPPM, including that from the author’s PhD research project, ‘Making places: performative arts practices in the city’, signposting examples of masterplanning and architectural build that have successfully incorporated this approach, such as that of Croydon Council’s award-winning placemaking-led regeneration.

It will position this contemporary practice as one where architects and artists work together in a collaborative practice, and co-produced with the micropublic (Amin 2008) in positions of relative expertism. Inherent in this co-produced practice is a subverting of sector normative representation and power, of who can speak for whom, when and how, if at all and will thus argue for performative architecture as questioning and support of intersectional production and use of space. As a post-modern social arts practice, performative architecture will be positioned in the arts canon both with and contra too the avant-garde (Kester 2013) and new genre public art (Lacy 2008), relational aesthetics (Bourriaud 1998). It will argue that performative architecture is of a dialogic aesthetic (Kester 2004, 2013), productive of new cultures of architectural knowledge.

The paper will close with a provocation to the architecture sector on its need to adopt co-productive modes of design to maintain, and arguably reclaim, its cultural significance in the built environment, essential for the future of the sector in extending its practice, reaffirming its relevance and ensuring its vital role in the current and future urban realm.

 

AAG CfP (now closed) abstract:

Creative Placemaking and Beyond: Continuing and re-invigorating the arts-led conversation

This session will continue the interrogation of notions of creative placemaking started at the RGS 2015 annual conference, bringing this conversation to the US and to broadening its international and sectoral/practice discussion. 

The creative placemaking (Landesman 2009) term has entered the arts-driven placemaking sector narrative presented as a ‘new [U.S.] policy platform across all levels of government’ (Markusen and Gadwa 2010:26) with a particular ethos; a cross-sectoral approach to arts-led regeneration (Markusen and Gadwa 2010) and of including non-arts stakeholders within community revitalisation (Poticha, 2011).

With contemporary debates around creative placemaking and its relations now reaching a moment in maturity and diversity a critique and a deeper understanding of practice is necessary.

Persistent questions arise around issues of arts practice/process, power relations, individual and community agency and creative placemaking’s relation vis-à-vis the neoliberal. As such, this session encourages a re-consideration of the role of the arts and creativity within socially-engaged placemaking practices for their potential to encourage self-organisation and how citizens can take the initiative in effecting their lived spacetime (McCormack 2013). It seeks to broaden the constituents in the creative placemaking discourse through presenting an international conversation that focuses on socially practiced, co-produced and citizen-led placemakings, addressing issues of scale, interdisciplinarity and radical practices within creative place production and co-production.

Given the vital need also for theorists to be in dialogue with practitioners, this session is seeking abstracts from both constituencies, with papers spanning theory and practice and examples of where the two intersect in the academy or in the field. It thus aims to provide a critical assessment of creative placemaking and of community driven placemaking (Hou and Rios 2003) and social design across all settlement types and conceptual, empirical, methodological papers are invited.

 

 

Parasites Abroad

In grappling with my research data and writing up my thesis, I am struck by how the work of social practice arts in placemaking - something I have come to term 'social practice placemaking' - is the notional parasite in the neoliberal, culturised built environment ecology, the break in the signal-noise of top-down city making. 

Its thinking that I am playing with at the moment, and it may go no further than to act as a hypothetical tipping point into something else, but I am reminded of a masters (Psychosocial Studies MSc) presentation I did on parasitical theory and Woody Allen's 'Vicky, Christina, Barcelona', a film that is an adept imagining of the theory. I did a presentation on this, which can be found here

 

Following on from the RGS...

Both myself and my co-convenor, Anita Mckeown, of the ‘Creative Placemaking and Beyond’ sessions at this year’s RGS-IBG annual conference were overwhelmed with its success and the feedback we got, and thank you all to Graeme Evans, Aditi Nargundkar Pathak, Marie Mahon and Anna Marazeula Kim, who delivered papers; to Alison Williams and Derek Jones, who facilitated the workshop session; and those 40-plus in number in the audience that came with us on this experiment in format and who added so much to the time we spent together – and dissolved the notion of the presenter-audience completely.

‘easily most coherent and interesting session I attended in the conference’

‘inspiring exchange of ideas’

‘a rich gathering of people and ideas’

Aside from the book chapters and papers ideas that were generated between us, Anita and I will be exploring ideas for maintaining the momentum and enthusiasm from the session and progressing ways to enable this – watch this space! 

What Do (Social Practice) Artists Do?

Taking inspiration from Frances Whitehead's What do Artists Know, I am working on a similar list/manifesto for What Artists Do, in particular, What Social Practice Artists Do.

This is spurred in the first instance by the confusion I sometimes meet in others around what the art is in this type of practice, and having to explain how play, or cooking or gardening or talking is art, I feel now is a time to really call out for what this practice is and how it does it.

In the spirit of social practice art, this of course is a collaborative endeavour and when this gets published (in my thesis, on my website, in papers and at conference), all will be named.

So, my question to all of you, what is it that (social practice) artists do?

Please either email me or reply on the comments below. The results of this will be published here in due course. 

Dinner at the Carey Estate for residents, cooked by the artists, part of the drawing shed's Some[W]here in 9 Elms, Wandsworth project, May 2015 

Dinner at the Carey Estate for residents, cooked by the artists, part of the drawing shed's Some[W]here in 9 Elms, Wandsworth project, May 2015 

Moving beyond creative placemaking at AAG 2015

This April I presented a paper on my Indianapolis case study, Big Car, at the 2015 meeting of the American Association of Geographers in Chicago.

With 9.5K delegates and sessions that span all forms of geography, the conference was as busy and buzzing as you’d expect. The arts had a healthy presence in the programme and my paper, ‘Moving beyond creative placemaking: the micropublic of a social practice placemaking project’ was presented as part of the Creative Placemaking and its Micropublics. The session was convened by Martin Zebracki, University of Leeds, and Saskia Warren, University of Manchester; fellow speakers were Micheal Rios, University of California, and Annette Koh, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

My paper aimed to disrupt the creative placemaking term as one misused in the placemaking sector; from a vernacular aspect, commonly to mean any placemaking with any arts component in it; and on a policy level, as a placemaking approach that uses the arts in placemaking to economic ends. The focus of my PhD research has been on what I have come to term social practice placemaking, one where the arts are situated at the grassroots and primarily employed for social and cultural gain, the economic imperative found in creative placemaking either missing or of lower significance. Amin’s micropublics of the title was used as a theory to explain the agency of such projects to galvanise people around arts and place and this was framed in the example of my Indianapolis case study, Big Car.