Arts and cultural activity have become an increasingly important part of urban regeneration.
Growing interest has been shown in participatory arts programmes which are low-cost, flexible and responsive to local needs.
This use of the arts coincides with a shift in emphasis in regeneration strategies towards seeing local people as the principal asset through which renewal can be achieved.
Arts programmes have been shown to contribute to enhancing social cohesion and local image; reducing offending behaviour; building private/public sector partnerships; promoting interest in the local environment; developing self-confidence; enhancing organisational capacity; supporting independence and exploring visions of the future.
Regeneration projects wishing to harness the arts sometimes experience problems because without adequate research they have insufficient knowledge of the models of success and other key factors of replication strategies.
The creation of public and private space and art it may or may not involve depends on symbolic considerations: what and who should and should not be visible; concepts of order and disorder; and an interplay between aesthetics and function.
As towns increasingly depend on service economies, they experience aesthetic urges. With the disappearance of manufacturing, culture is becoming the business of cities. The consumption of art and culture and all the related services, and art often packages them all, are the foundations of the city’s symbolic economy. Art, or at least an aestheticizing impulse (historic preservation, for example), is a chief player in the postindustrial symbolic economy. The research shows that the presence of art and art institutions in a town establish competitive advantages over other towns for attracting business and investment.