Neoliberal Place Competition and Culturephilia: Explored Through the Lens of Derry~Londonderry

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In this article we contribute to international debates on the impact and legacy of major cultural events. Using the theoretical backdrop of neoliberal urbanism, and our conceptual contribution of culturephilia, impact inflation and the three Cs, we examination Derry~Londonderry (D~L) UK City of Culture (CoC) 2013. Neoliberal urbanism generates fierce inter-city competition to host major cultural events, conditioning the actions of local stakeholders who produce bid documents resulting in excessive targets for impact and legacy, i.e. impact inflation. This is part of a wider fetishisation of the alleged curing qualities of culture, or culturephilia, which is underpinned by claims that cultural and creative policy interventions can enhance cities’ competitiveness, what we term as the three Cs of local and regional development. We show that in D~L culture has been somewhat successful as a ‘peace resource’, but less dynamic as an ‘economic resource’. The key lesson from D~L is that not delivering on the excessive economic targets creates frustration and disillusionment amongst those at the margins of society. Our advice to future cities of culture is, notwithstanding the incentive to inflate, they must be fully cognisant of the consequences of not delivering on extravagant targets for those most marginalised in society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)788-809
Number of pages21
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number6
Early online date06 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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