About

Writer, musician and crochet aficionado. Currently completing a Masters in Performance Studies at the University of Sydney researching artists and urban renewal, and playing with her band No Art.

Search for content

An excellent article about who culture-led urban renewal is serving in Detroit, and who’s left out of the picture. Also serves as a nice follow up to Spike Lee’s recent comments on gentrification in Brooklyn.
Photography: Liza Harvey, outside Michigan Central Station

An excellent article about who culture-led urban renewal is serving in Detroit, and who’s left out of the picture. Also serves as a nice follow up to Spike Lee’s recent comments on gentrification in Brooklyn.

Photography: Liza Harvey, outside Michigan Central Station

Some thinking points on gentrification, place and the self

After listening to Spike Lee speaking (/ranting) about gentrification, I’ve started thinking about how and why gentrification means so much to so many of us - even when it’s not a race question. At the same time I’ve been writing a paper on place, and the combination has brought about an interesting way of thinking.

In ‘The right to the city’, David Harvey argues that ‘The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city' (my emphasis).* Harvey is operating from a Lefebvrian understanding of space as constructed and is arguing here that in constructing spaces, we are effectively constructing our collective practices and values, and thereby our selves.

There is another way to approach this. If we take on Edward Casey’s assertions of the primacy of place in the human condition, we begin to see why we are so invested in places, particularly those in which we’ve lived for any stretch of time. If, as Casey insists, we ‘live in and through places’ in a phenomenological sense, then change in and to these places strikes at the very core of our being and our perception of the world.

Resistance to processes of gentrification involves more than abstract questions of equity and social justice. It is, in a Bourdieurian sense, a fundamental struggle for the right for our lives to take place in ways that are meaningful to us.

*David Harvey (2008) ‘The right to the city’ New Left review, 53, September-October 2008, p. 23

An on point article about the proposed Melbourne Arts Precinct and urban planning for the arts in general.

A very good article on the contradictions of the ‘creative city’ discourse, gentrification and live music from Kate Shaw in Melbourne.

Shaw however does fall short in the same way that much of this work does, leaning a little too heavily on theorists like Sharon Zukin and applying the term ‘gentrification’ as shorthand for a process which in itself demands analysis.

For example, this is a very different kind of gentrification process, involving what residents call ‘the plan’ and strategies of ‘malignant neglect’.

Ethan Kent, from the Project for Public Spaces, is speaking as part of Sydney Ideas this week.

Applications are open for the Creative Live Work Spaces on William Street in Darlinghurst. Follow the details here.

A recent report suggests surging rents are caused not necessarily by a lack of properties but by a large number of vacant properties. It’s in interesting echo of Marcus Westbury’s argument regarding empty spaces and current regulations.

A quick summary for the uninitiated:

'One of the biggest problems for artists, who typically have low incomes, is finding affordable space from which they can create, distribute and present their work. While a prolonged property bubble has driven up rents and exacerbated this problem, there are still many spaces within Australian cities that sit empty. In late 2008, the Renew Newcastle scheme was established in the regional New South Wales city of Newcastle to take some of the 150 otherwise vacant commercial spaces in that city and make them available to artists, creative enterprises and community groups. To date, the initiative has placed more than 50 artists in shops, offices, studios, and galleries. In doing so, it has revitalised a once emptying city centre and seeded a series of creative initiatives, both commercial and not-for-profit. It is a model for facilitating low-cost decentralised cultural production that other cities such as Cairns, Townsville, Adelaide and Geelong have begun to emulate.

While the scheme has been a success, it is also a case study in the lack of responsibility for cultural regulation at a national level. The very presence of empty spaces in many cities is a product of both market failure and government regulation: many buildings sit vacant due to complex tax laws and planning regulations that provide strong incentives to owners to leave buildings vacant. As a result, flexible access to these spaces for artists and creators is essentially a policy setting – even if it is not an artform-specific funding issue.’

The 21st Century Artist Conference, ARTSPACE, Sydney, Thursday 24 and Friday 25 October, 2013
Particularly have my eye on the What Are Our Utopias? roundtable.
For those who can’t attend, keep your eyes peeled for video footage, podcasts and essays published on the site.

The 21st Century Artist Conference, ARTSPACE, Sydney, Thursday 24 and Friday 25 October, 2013

Particularly have my eye on the What Are Our Utopias? roundtable.

For those who can’t attend, keep your eyes peeled for video footage, podcasts and essays published on the site.

Sydney Creative Time Summit, Newtown Library and Archive_Space, Sydney, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October 2013
The reader alone is a pretty impressive/nicely concise overview of these ideas for anyone coming across these things for the first time.

Sydney Creative Time Summit, Newtown Library and Archive_Space, Sydney, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October 2013

The reader alone is a pretty impressive/nicely concise overview of these ideas for anyone coming across these things for the first time.

The labour of creative work

Trischelle Roberts, Department of Performance Studies Research Seminar, University of Sydney, 30 August 2013

Underlying currently dominant discourses in the field of arts and culture, by which I mean Floridian and placemaking theory, is the assumption that creative resources are infinite - or at least that there is always another ‘creative’ to replace one who has ‘burned out’ through their own mismanagement. In this paper, I will unpack this myth and delve into my fieldwork with Renew Newcastle to explore the labour involved in creative work, even in cases where to the outsider’s eye there may appear to be no actual ‘work’ taking place.

I argue that the effect of this labour on artists is twofold: that it can and does contribute to burn out or, where artists are able to act in more resilient and creative ways, to new experimentation and potential - remembering that this resilience is not a simple matter of mindset or strategy. Interestingly, I find that those artists who are least seduced by the role of the ‘creative entrepreneur’ proposed by the dominant discourses are, perhaps counter-intuitively, often practising the more sustainable behaviours and models.