Shaping Civic Space: Increasing cultural engagement and informing policy through temporary public art

The In Certain Places (ICP) project began its work in Preston City Centre in 2006 and continues today.

ICP grew out of a partnership between the local authority-run Harris Museum & Art Gallery and the University of Central Lancashire, and is delivered by Professor Charles Quick and Elaine Speight, a Harris employee who joined the University of Central Lancashire in 2013.

ICP, an art-led research project, has involved a programme of temporary public artworks which have increased cultural engagement and informed policy within the city of Preston. Following the financial crash of 2007/8, which ended developer-led plans for Preston City Centre and within the context of austerity, the project has offered a fresh approach to urban regeneration. This approach has its roots in the cultural and social life at the heart of the city. Held up as a model of good practice within national art and placemaking discourses, aspects of the project have also been replicated in cities overseas.

ICP has actively increased cultural engagement within Preston city centre, specifically in the Market Square. Over four weeks in September 2013, Harris Flights increased visits to the Harris Museum by 70% and brought an increase of 66,000 visitors over totals for the previous quarter. In 2015 the People’s Canopy helped to develop further opportunities for cultural engagement in the city centre by providing the infrastructure for the pilot Lancashire Encounter Festival, which attracted 20,000 people over two days. This success provided the impetus for its continuation as a biennial festival. The first large-scale festival in 2016 more than doubled visitor figures, with 43,000 attendees, with its second edition in 2018. The aim is for the festival to take place every two years thereafter. Since 2015, the People’s Canopy has also been adopted by local governments overseas, in cities such as Leuven, Belgium and Yantai, China, to facilitate increased cultural and social engagement within their public spaces.

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Academic expertise

Professor Charles Quick
Professor of Public Art Practice
School of Arts and Media

Charles Quick is Professor of Public Art Practice and co-principal investigator of In Certain Places – an art-led research project, which brokers connections between people and places. Charles has developed an internationally recognised hybrid research practice which combines the…

Elaine Speight
Reader in Curatorial Practice and Place
School of Arts and Media

Elaine Speight is Reader in Curatorial Practice and Place, and co-curator of In Certain Places – an art-led research project, which brokers connections between people and places. Elaine has written about place-based art and curatorial practice for various publications and present…