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Charting public art – a quantitative and qualitative approach to understanding sustainable social influences of art in the public realm

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As public art continues to serve as a cultural cornerstone in the regeneration strategies of urban areas across North America and the European Union, the need for quantitative data on the sustainable economic, environmental and social impacts to support the beneficial claims of art in the public realm is becoming increasingly imperative. While much has been written to explore the development and expansion of public art, particularly as an agent of urban change, little by way of substantive evidence exists to support the anecdotal evidence and qualitative observations that underlie the argument of public art as a sustainable vehicle for urban regeneration and social change. This article explores some of the assumptions regarding the long-term effects of public art in the urban environment and outlines the development of a multi-disciplinary project in Vancouver, British Columbia that is endeavouring to develop a series of socially engaged public art projects to lay the foundation for research that aims to garner valuable qualitative and quantitative data reflecting the influences of public art within Canadian urban society.
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Keywords: Public art; community engagement; qualitative research; quantitative research; social practice; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • Art & the Public Sphere provides a new platform for academics, artists, curators, art historians and theorists whose working practices are broadly concerned with contemporary art's relation to the public sphere. The journal presents a crucial examination of contemporary art's link to the public realm, offering an engaged and responsive forum in which to debate the newly emerging series of developments within contemporary thinking, society and international art practice.
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