The role of Art in Regeneration


untitled (269)This week the Turner Prize was announced, and rather than awarding the prize to a Damian Hirst or Antony Gormley sculpture the judges chose a regeneration project located in the city of my birth, Liverpool. A collective of Architects and Designers called Assemble worked with tenants and residents to help them improve the streets in which they live and bring art into their own homes and streets. The Granby Street area is adjacent to roads that have been ‘regenerated’ by commercial developers, knocking down dilapidated homes and building grand new houses fit for people who want to move into the city and live close to the Albert Dock, home to Tate Liverpool (and within sight of the Tate and Lyle warehouses that once helped Liverpool prosper). Prior to this prize being awarded no one would choose to visit the Granby Street area, let alone wish to live there. However the comfortable lived in atmosphere in the Granby Street area is in stark contrast to the pristine new homes that all look identical and despite their architectural sensitivity to the Toxteth I remember, do not really fit in with the area. Not a brick is out of place, the whole area looks as though it has come straight off a drawing board. The other streets that neighbour Granby Street further North and moving out of the centre of the city, are crying out for the same sort of care an attention that Granby Street has had. They look and feel rundown and unloved. They are far enough away from the centre of the City for them to get ignored by the Politicians and don’t offer a profitable opportunity for developers. Sadly they did not get the help of a collective like Assemble who took time and an interest in the lives of people who were unlike them, but who were made to feel appreciated. I was in the Granby Street area in October, quite by chance. I had dropped someone off in the Albert Dock area who wanted to visit the Tate Liverpool which is no more than 2 miles from Granby Street. I did not want to explore and area that is over run with day visitors, and chose instead to explore the Streets further away. In the same week as my visit to Granby Street we went to Port Sunlight and visited the Lady Lever Art Gallery. We spent hours in front of formal works of Art before re-emerging into the sun and the wonderful creation that is Port Sunlight. Just like Assemble Lord Leverhulme understood that the lives of working men and women deserve to be lived in surroundings that are filled with Art and designed for comfort. He lifted his workers out of the Victorian slums, just as Assemble have helped the residents of Granby Street to improve their housing and surroundings in the 21st Century. We need more groups like Assemble and more philanthropists who understand the world the rest of us live in!

 

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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