Urban Regeneration, Arts Programming and Major Events

Published in: International Journal for Cultural Policy (vol 10, n 1) (pp. 103-118)

The potential of arts activity as a tool for urban regeneration has been widely discussed since the early 1980s. In parallel, notions of cultural/urban tourism and arts/city marketing have gained great popularity among marketers, city planners and cultural policy-makers alike. Major events are seen as effective catalysts for city regeneration processes, as they are able to merge tourism strategies with urban planning and can boost the confidence of local communities. However, arts programming has yet to achieve a position that allows it to be perceived as a relevant contributor to the success and legacy of large-scale urban events. This paper explores the contradiction between the celebrated potential of the arts in urban regeneration processes and their poor position within major events. In so doing, the paper compares the experiences of three cities, each host to major events with strong arts and cultural components: Glasgow 1990 – European City of Culture; Sydney 2000 – Olympic Games and Olympic Arts Festivals, and Barcelona 2004 – Universal Forum for Cultures.

Keywords | City marketing, urban regeneration, cultural tourism, arts programming, events, legacy