Publication Details

Gibson, C. R. (2010). Place making: mapping culture, creating places: collisions of science and art. Local-Global: identity, security, community, 7, 66-83.


The arts have much to offer the reinvention of places: generating new forms of employment in cultural work, contributing to public culture through festivals and events, and appropriating spaces in the built environments of our cities and towns for artistic expression. Filtering artistic attempts to re-make places are three key competing pressures: first, the demands of regional development managers, treasury bureaucrats and council general managers for accountability, ‘hard data’ and measurable outcomes; second, desires of local residents, non-profit organisations and community development specialists to use the arts as a means to promote social inclusion and recognition of social difference; and third, professional concerns of artists themselves to produce creative expressions that advance practice, experiment, and/or challenge prevailing norms. Often, these pressures are thought of as irreconcilable or incorrigible. I will discuss examples from two key projects—one on using new computer mapping technologies to trace the relationship between creativity and the city, the other Australia’s largest-ever study of rural and regional festivals—that show it is possible to re-make places in creative, challenging ways as well as improve social outcomes—and even to speak to bean-counters in the language of ‘hard data’.