Speaking of the Arts District — well, I was, anyway — you might recall my vow to keep up with Domenic Cavendish’ series of columns for the New Statesman about “the connections between culture and regeneration.”
In his latest report, Cavendish examines Liverpool, which has been declared this year’s European “Capital of Culture.” This has seemingly triggered a huge economic revival for the gloomy seaport: “Liverpool One, coming into being like a shiny, futuristic metropolis-within-a-metropolis. With £1bn of private investment behind it, this labyrinth of sleek glass and steel is the biggest retail-led city-centre regeneration project in Europe.”
But will the result be what Liverpudlians really wanted — other than local developers, of course? Reading his report, one inevitably thinks of the Victory development, American Airlines Center, the Arts District, even the Trinity River Project — every plan that has been touted as downtown Dallas’ salvation. But are they? And how does anyone determine such a complicated, socioeconomic cause-and-effect?
Cavendish has found someone who is trying to do just that.
He interviews Dr. Beatriz Garcia who has been studying these questions with a 15-member team:
One of the difficulties, she freely admits, in looking at the impact is “distinguishing between what is due to Capital of Culture and what would have happened anyway.”
There are a number of different themes that she [is] looking at. There’s the economic impact (1), including job creation; there’s also the impact in terms of the city’s ‘Cultural System’ (2), its systems of creative endeavour; there’s the question of ‘Cultural Access and Participation’ (3) and how participation in CoC events improves quality of life; there’s ‘Identity, Image and Place’ (4), how, in effect, the city’s self-image and self-confidence is altered; there’s the ‘Physical Infrastructure of the City’ (5), taking in everything from venues to public art and parking. And there’s also ‘Philosophy and Management of the Process’ (6), which looks at how the ideas and processes that have shaped the success or otherwise of the Liverpool year can be built upon, with a particular view to carrying them forward to other regeneration programmes.