Town Planning Review

Culture in the city, culture for the city? The political construction of the trickle-down in cultural regeneration strategies in Roubaix, France

Town Planning Review (2011), 82, (1), 77–98.

Abstract

This article contributes to current debates on the use of culture in urban regeneration through a case study of Roubaix, a former industrial town located in the metropolitan area of Lille (northern France), where local policy-makers have proactively used culture in urban regeneration strategies. The article analyses the 'political construction of the trickle-down', i.e. the explicit mechanisms promoted by local actors to ensure that cultural investments benefit vulnerable social groups through job creation and cultural democratisation. The case study demonstrates that cultural investments do not trickle down to deprived and marginalised populations without strong, proactive forms of political and public intervention at various scales. Even in the case of Roubaix, characterised by significant political commitment and professional efforts, socio-cultural barriers remain very difficult to overcome. Addressing such barriers is often beyond the remit of local planning and urban regeneration professionals.

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Colomb, Claire