The roles of artists’ collective in the Gdansk Shipyard's heritage protection

Katarzyna Kosmala, Roman Sebastyanski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The main objective of this paper is to analyse the roles of the artists’ collective in the creation of socially shared knowledge, concerning Gdansk Shipyard's heritage protection during the urban regeneration process over last ten years, since 2002.

Design/methodology/approach – The empirical section of the paper is based on a single case study concerning the artists collective’ ability to build a complex network of social relations, to research cultural heritage of the Gdansk Shipyard, to translate this knowledge into symbolic languages through art-based work and to transmit knowledge to the wider public with an aim to engage in an open dialogic public communication.

Findings – The case study draws on insights from participant observation carried out on the premises of the Gdansk Shipyard between years 2000 and 2008 and interviews with individual artists from the collective, conducted between years 2004 and 2006. Data was also drawn from archival research. The exposure in public media was also examined over last ten years, including Internet websites as well as newspapers and magazines’ content.

Research limitations/implications – The case study research indicates that methods and techniques applied by the artists’ collective in researching the shipyard's historical heritage and communicating their findings to the wider public have been more effective than the official planning methods of expert-led post-industrial urban regeneration. Over the last ten years, the artists have succeeded to transform the negative perceptions about the values of the shipyard's cultural heritage and engaged local citizens in the preservation of the historical identities of the place. In 2012, the Mayor of Gdansk has invited representatives of the artists’ collective to the newly established Young City Stakeholders’ Board in order to utilize their knowledge of the shipyard's cultural heritage and their capacity to mediate between various groups involved in urban regeneration planning process as well as to communicate with the wider public.

Practical implications – Despite persistent views in literature that equate public engagement in the planning process of urban regeneration with a kind of “modern utopia”, we argue that participatory process is not only possible in practice but also can be highly effective and democratically ethical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-129
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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