Artists and arts organisations have often engaged with processes of gentrification. Increasingly encouraged by the state into public-private-third sector “partnerships”, many arts organisations and artists have discovered new value in the intangible worlds of “community development” and “community engagement”. Socially engaged art has become a catch-all banner for state and corporate instrumentalism, embracing the rhetoric of inclusion, wellbeing, social impact and social capital in so doing.
I argue that artists are increasingly being instrumentalised by the state, local authorities, corporate interests and financial investors, and third sector organisations eager to promote urban renewal and narrow notions of ‘the civic’.
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