Community Arts and Activism Models: What is the Potential Impact on Heritage Urban Futures?

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


From the 1960s, when local artists helped to empower communities in Central Scotland housing-schemes like Easterhouse and Craigmillar (Crummy, 1992), European artists have started to engage in co-creating future spaces and places that respect community identity, their place and heritage. In parallel, the polarisation within the arts establishment has downgraded socially engaged practices, collapsing 'arts development' with 'cultural planning' (Sholette, 2010).

This paper examines the role of artistic interventionism in planning, referring to recent "di-vision" (Bourdieu,1984), drawing on the examples of community artists, such as Owen Kelly (1984) and socially engaged interventionists, such as Lorraine Leeson (2017) and Gregory Sholette (2019) who have mapped the terrain while embracing academia to describe the sophistication of socially engaged practices. From sporadic "spontaneous combustion' of individual projects in the 1960's - 1980's, their work has linked theory with practice.

Today, many founding organisations of early European networks continue to thrive, contributing to the debate around urban futures and influencing dialogue. These organisations embrace cultural planning, mentor emerging artists, spawn new collaborations and establish new legal forms of enterprise, as much as possible independent of funding/state subsidy. Drawing on the case study of Govan's A-listed Graving docks in Glasgow, the authors argue that networks are key to impacting policy. The paper attempt to unpack the impact of artistic interventionism, academic distinction, networking and new business models have had on future-planning for Graving Docks, where longitudinal research and creative activism have transformed the narrative from default housing development to an emergent form of cultural planning that is working from the inside out.
Period30 Aug 2020
Event titleACHS 2020 FUTURES - Association of Critical
Heritage Studies 5th Biennial Conference: Futures
Event typeConference
LocationLondon , United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • community arts
  • particiaptory methods
  • heritage
  • Intangible Cultural heritage
  • activism
  • futures