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Incoherence and Tension in Culture-Led Redevelopment

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  • Vanessa Mathews

Abstract

This article contributes to contemporary debates surrounding the outcome of culture-led redevelopment by exploring the tensions that arise when a broad application of ‘culture’ is used to theme space. I take as my focus the Distillery District, a private sector redevelopment in the City of Toronto, Ontario that draws on the arts alongside industrial heritage to heighten consumption. The article is divided into two main sections. I begin with a review of Toronto's shifting arts policies — from a focus on securing space for artistic production to a focus on arts consumption for interurban competition — to contextualize the planning framework underlying the redevelopment of the district. Second, I engage with how diverse and creative interruptions directed by the tenancy run against the unifying grain of the redevelopment process. While culture and creativity are drawn into a strategy of place-making for the purpose of place distinction, an incongruous festival and events season, and the tokenistic inclusion of cultural producers to satisfy a public appetite for the creative process, complicate these descriptors of space. Ultimately, the representation of the Distillery as a premier centre for ‘arts, culture, and entertainment’ is unravelled by multimodal ways of seeing and experiencing culture and place.

Suggested Citation

  • Vanessa Mathews, 2014. "Incoherence and Tension in Culture-Led Redevelopment," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(3), pages 1019-1036, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ijurrs:v:38:y:2014:i:3:p:1019-1036
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/1468-2427.12108
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    References listed on IDEAS

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