Funded PhD Scholarship

With two of my colleagues at the University of Greenwich, we are offering a funded PhD scholarship to come and work with us, evaluating a major regeneration project over three years, in south-east London.

Four_Towers_South_Thamesmead_PSP_2557

You can view the full description, and find out about the application process here.  If you’d like to contact me about this directly, please just get in touch, but I’ve included some brief information below:

Description:

Are you interested in assisting with the evaluation of a large-scale regeneration initiative in London? A fully-funded studentship developed by Arup, The Social Innovation Partnership and the University of Greenwich is available for a student to qualitatively and quantitatively track changes in Thamesmead over time.

The Role

Thamesmead is a town that was established in the 1960s with the intention of being a ‘model city,’ built with utopian architecture, green spaces and waterways along the banks of the river Thames. Peabody’s mission is to improve, grow and look after Thamesmead for the long-term. Because Peabody owns much of the land, housing and retail, and natural spaces in the area, it is in the unique position to take a holistic, area-wide approach to its regeneration. Peabody has engaged Arup, TSIP and the University of Greenwich to jointly manage the Thamesmead Evaluation Framework.

The PhD student will make a significant contribution to the overall evaluation of the Thamesmead Plan, and will carry out research with practical implications. The research focuses on public space, culture, arts and heritage and community cohesion, and the lived experience of place.

This studentship will be supervised by a team specialising in urban and cultural regeneration, with additional support from Arup, a world-leading urban consultancy firm. The student is expected to work closely with the supervisory team, key internal stakeholders and external contractors. The student researcher will also train Peabody staff and/or local residents in data collection methods.

The Candidate

The candidate will hold a relevant postgraduate qualification, will be experienced with qualitative and quantitative research methods and willing to conduct fieldwork within the locality.

For further information please contact the supervisor: Dr. Menna Jones, M.T.Jones@greenwich.ac.uk

Bursary available (subject to satisfactory performance):

Year 1: £15,009 Year 2 and 3: In line with RCUK rate

The successful candidate will receive a contribution to tuition fees equivalent to the university’s Home/EU rate, currently £4,327, for the duration of their scholarship. International applicants will need to pay the remainder tuition fee for the duration of their scholarship. This fee is subject to an annual increase. Scholarships are available for three years, full-time study from the date scholars first register as an MPhil/PhD student with the university. Applicants must meet the programme entry requirements.

For additional information about the scholarship please go to: www.gre.ac.uk/research/study/research-studentships-and-scholarships

 

Heritage, Tourism and Economic Development in Seaside Towns

Yesterday, I gave this presentation at a fascinating event at Turner Contemporary in Margate on local lists and the heritage sector.  I was invited to speak by the Margate Neighbourhood Plan Forum and Margate Civic Society, about the relationship between heritage, tourism and economic development.  This was great opportunity for me to return to Margate, the regeneration of which I published this article about a few years ago.

In my presentation, I argued that, in the absence of strong government policies on tourism and culture, and as public sector funding and control of regeneration reduces, there is an opportunity for heritage groups (like the fantastic Sevenoaks Society, who presented their work on local lists at the event) to influence how their local heritage is presented to tourists and to influence the nature of local economic development.

My main point was that tourists want fantastic, memorable experiences.  If heritage groups can present their local heritage to tourists as interesting stories and use exciting narratives, then heritage can be a great resource for regeneration. This might mean them becoming comfortable with the inauthentic heritagisation of their areas, but seaside towns like Whitby and Blackpool show that this can be highly effective in bringing in tourists and generating economic impacts.

 

An elephant delighting tourists in Margate (Thanks to Geoff Orton @ Margate Civic Society)
A mechanical elephant delighting tourists in Margate (Thanks to Geoff Orton @ Margate Civic Society)

Back the bid: East Kent City of Culture 2017

East Kent, the area that I grew up in and where I’ve spent most of my life, is bidding to become the UK City of Culture in 2017.  This is an innovative, exciting attempt to bring together the areas of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Thanet as a single ‘city’ for the bid.

back the bid logo

Over the last ten years, there has been a flourishing of cultural activity and investment in East Kent.  My Phd (which is almost finished!), looks at how this has taken place on Kent’s coast.  I’ve written about cultural regeneration has been taking place in seaside towns generally and in Margate and Folkestone, specifically.  Inland though, there are other exciting cultural activities – Canterbury is a beautiful heritage city with an international arts festival and Ashford has an emerging arts scene with a new exciting venue and an inspiring, energetic arts manager in the local authority promoting the work of the borough’s artists.

East Kent is a diverse and interesting part of the country – it is an area of significant economic growth and home to some very wealthy people, but it is also the site of areas of significant poverty and exclusion.  Kent is a huge county, and large parts of it are rural (the garden of England, apparently!), but the urban areas are densely populated and growing fast.  For years, the area’s proximity to London has been a brake on the development of its cultural offer, but now high-speed links and it’s great quality of life mean that it can attract new residents from the capital and put on events that attract London audiences.

The successful opening of Turner Contemporary on East Kent’s most distant tip shows that distance is no barrier in attracting audiences if the quality of the cultural offer is high and the marketing is right – this bid will showcase the excellent cultural activity of the area and build on the buzz around Margate.

I want this bid to win. 11 cities are submitting bids and East Kent’s is clearly the most innovative – bringing together a huge range of local authorities, cultural organisations and other agencies.  If East Kent isn’t successful, then there is a huge amount to be gained from the bidding process: new links between councils who have competed rather than co-operated in the past, new networks of cultural organisations, a better sense of the cultural offer in the area and increased visibility for tourists and visitors.

Jools Holland and Tracey Emin at the opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery
Jools Holland and Tracey Emin at the opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery

Of course, as a researcher, I and others will be looking for opportunities to get under the skin of this bid and the project itself, if East Kent win.  These projects aren’t without their critics and maximising the benefits of this for tourism, economic development and the cultural sector will be challenging, but bidding, and hopefully winning, is the beginning of an exciting new opportunity for East Kent.  The short list for the next stage of the competition will be announced in June – you can support East Kent’s bid by clicking here and adding your name!

Dreamland, tourism and the regeneration of Margate

This week, a battle has been taking place in the High Court over the future of the Dreamland theme park site in Margate, Kent.  The Local Authority for Margate, Thanet District Council, has been granted a Compulsory Purchase Order for the site, because it wants to develop it in what it sees as the best interests of the town and its residents.  The owners of the site, Dreamland Live, are challenging this decision and want to retain the right to develop this land in their own commercial interests.

This is a brief news report about the background to the court battle, including a short contribution from me.  The court case finished yesterday, with a judgement due in around two weeks.

The Dreamland site is an important part of Margate’s tourism heritage and vital for the future of tourism development and regeneration in the area.  The delays to this project are incredibly damaging to the development of the town and are only worsening Margate’s Tourism Destination Image, which had been massively improved recently with the opening of Turner Contemporary.

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Click here to find out about more about Dreamland

I wrote a journal article about the regeneration of Margate, and of the use of culture to regenerate seaside towns generally, which you can read more about here.

The large dreamland site
The large Dreamland site

I’m not convinced that the owners of the site have really grasped the full potential of a revitalised Dreamland for tourism and economic development. However, I’m equally concerned that the local authority may not have the funds, capacity and commercial experience to deliver a project that is sustainable in the long-term.

I hope that the future development of Dreamland involves a genuine partnership between the public and private sectors and that the Dreamland Trust remain at the heart of the project. The trust have put together a set of really exciting ideas for the future of the site and represent a range of views and interests in the local community.  Without them, I’m sure that the whole site would have been given over to housing or a supermarket development long ago.

Bleak towns: does place reputation matter?

In my role at EDReC, I’m involved in hosting this event at Greenwich on 17th September, which features Owen Hatherley, architecture critic for the Guardian newspaper, in conversation with Sam Jordison, author of ‘Crap Towns’.  The event will be chaired by Andrew Stevens.

The event is free, but places are strictly limited – click here to book your place.

BBC News Olympic legacy debate with Ian Sinclair

Last night I was invited to take part in a debate on the BBC News Channel about the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.  You can watch the video below:

 

London 2012: Good value for money

I’m going to be on the BBC News tonight, at some point around 9pm, debating the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with Ian Sinclair, who has had a great deal to say about the negative impacts of the Olympics in East London.  I take the view that 2012 is making a hugely significant contribution to the development of the city and that its impacts are, broadly speaking, positive, even if it may be many years before they are fully felt.  I wrote about this in my blog for the Metro newspaper recently and I’ve copied the article below…

At a time when the Government is regularly criticized for cutting spending and not investing in big projects to get the economy moving, why are people so angry about the billions being spent on the Olympics?

Ever since the Government first announced its intentions to cut public spending on a scale scarcely anyone had thought possible, the cry from the opposition and campaigners has been for the government to spend.

These cries make good sense; invest now in big infrastructure projects, create jobs in construction and manufacturing, prop up areas suffering worst from the effects of the economic crisis.

The F10 bridge with construction workers from the Aquatics Centre forming a giant number 2 to signify two years until the start of London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty)

Another set of demands; invest in sustainable development, in young people, in culture and sport, and invest in long-term projects that leave a lasting legacy.

The money that has been spent on the development of the Olympic Park in Stratford meets these criteria and should be seen as the one shining example of where this otherwise spendthrift government is doing exactly what its critics says it should: spending big.

Celebrate the fact that the government is actually spending some money where it is needed

The total cost to the taxpayer of staging the Olympics will probably end up somewhere between 12-15billion. That money has been spent over seven years and hasn’t really been affected by the public spending cuts.

That money has directly created thousands of jobs and, indirectly, tens of thousands more. The excuse of a few weeks of sport has allowed successive governments to transform the fortunes of a part of east London that has suffered from multiple deprivations for a generation.

Infrastructure developments on this scale always leave victims. If it were possible to create projects that didn’t involve forced evictions, that didn’t create opportunities for a sometimes greedy private sector and that didn’t cause political controversy, then someone would have worked that out by now.  But whether it’s a bridge, an airport, a bypass, a conference centre or a mega-event, investments of global significance can never be politically neutral.

It is the job of governments to make the case for their spending and to satisfy the public that they really will benefit from it. Successive governments haven’t won that argument.

But we pay taxes every day for services and projects that some of us will never use like schools, pensions, social services and defense. Add the Olympics to that list, think about the benefits that it can deliver, and celebrate the fact that the government is actually spending some money where it is needed.

Don’t wait for the state…

This is a short blog post that I’ve written for the Crossovers blog, that we’ve been developing to help stimulate some debate before the Crossovers event on 19th September, which I’ll blog about later in the week.  The post is based loosely on a chapter that I’ve written for the new Routledge Handbook of Cultural Tourism, which is being published in January 2013, and it is about the future of cultural regeneration.

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As public funding for both culture and tourism continues to shrink, and with the private sector feeling the effect of an extended period of economic gloom, it is easy to think that the long boom in cultural regeneration is over.  For two decades and more, cities and towns in Europe have been through cultural regeneration schemes of one sort or another, often focussed on high-profile, expensive new cultural icons.

 have cultural producers have bought into the cultural regeneration rhetoric?

The success stories that our attention is usually directed towards include Bilbao, Newcastle / Gateshead, Lille, Glasgow – cities that have used flagship cultural developments to help them grow their economies in response to decades of industrial change.

Right now, everywhere in Europe is facing the kinds of economic challenges that the regeneration schemes of the long boom were designed to tackle.  What role can the cultural sector play in meeting these challenges and who is going to pay for it?

We’ve heard for years how the cultural element of regeneration helps to promote things like community cohesion and sense of place, how it can address low aspirations and create new kinds of employment and educational opportunities, especially for young people, and how it can be used to re-brand and promote areas that are in need of investment, often through attracting high-spending cultural tourists.

What will be put to the test now is not whether civil servants and regeneration bureaucracies believe in the power of culture to achieve these things, or whether private sector investors understand the role of culture in attracting employers and employees to an area, but whether cultural producers have bought into the cultural regeneration rhetoric as much as policy-makers and funding bodies.

 is this the new model for cultural regeneration?

In Stokes Croft in Bristol, local activists and artists came together to improve and promote their neighbourhood, from the bottom up.  This meant working at street level with residents and visitors and not waiting for the state to step in with grants or the private sector to open a new shopping centre to attract tourists.  Stokes Croft designated itself as Bristol’s cultural quarter and over time has become known as a cultural tourist destination famous for its vibrant street-art scene and its energetic DIY culture.  Sometimes this brought it into conflict with the local authority; the recent protests against the opening of a Tesco in the area are a testament to its continuing anti-establishment stance.

What has happened in Stokes Croft show us that the positive impacts of cultural regeneration can be achieved by cultural producers, activists and others working together as a community, without the need for masterplans, grants, public-private partnerships or consultants.    We’ve seen this approach being taken in cities across the world from Berlin to London to New York, but historically the developers move in and start buying things up once an area becomes ‘successful’.

Now the developers are keeping their hand in their pockets, is this the new model for cultural regeneration?

Blogging for the Metro Newspaper on the 2012 Olympics

Over the next few months, I’m going to be blogging for the Metro Newspaper about the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.  I’m going to concentrate on the non-sporting aspects of the Olympics, as I’m no sporting expert, and I’ll have a focus on issues surrounding the impacts of the Games, economically, socially and culturally.  You can click on the image below to see my most recent posts.

A Sporting Chance: the legacies of mega-events for post-industrial British cities

I’ll be contributing to this event at the end of May….

The City Of Manchester stadium, a legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Now renamed as the Etihad Stadium and home to Manchester City football club.

 

A Sporting Chance: the legacies of mega-events for post-industrial British cities

 23rd and 24th May 2012

Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), University of Manchester

Comparing the city of Manchester, ten years after it hosted the Commonwealth Games, with London – host to the Olympic Games in 2012, this two day workshop invites critical inter-disciplinary discussion and evaluation of the legacies of sporting mega-events for post-industrial British cities.

The workshop is funded by the new Urban Experiments research theme at CRESC  and brings together twelve academics whose research is concerned, in various ways, with exploring the socio-economic, political and material transformations brought about by post-industrialisation and/or sporting mega events billed as catalysts for urban regeneration.

Speakers include:

Mike Raco, Professor of Urban and Regional Governance, The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, London.

Dr Adam Brown, Director and founder member of Substance research cooperative, Manchester

Professor John Gold, Department of History, Philosophy and Religion – Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University.

Professor John Horne, Professor of Sport and Sociology, University of Central Lancashire

Dr Larissa Davies, Senior Research Fellow Sport Industry Research Centre Sheffield Hallam University

Dr. Andrew Smith, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster

James Kennell, Director Economic Development Resource Centre, University of Greenwich Business School.

Camilla Lewis, PhD candidate, Social Anthropology, University of Manchester

Beth Carley, PhD candidate, Cathy Marsh Centre for Survey and Social Research, University of Manchester

Gillian Evans, RCUK Research Fellow, CRESC, University of Manchester

Allan Cochrane, Professor of Urban Studies, Social Sciences, Open University

For more information and to reserve a place contact K.D.ho@open.ac.uk