The art of the good life: culture and sustainable prosperity
New paper by Kate Oakley and Jonathan Ward
Cultural Trends, Vol 27(1)
The creative economy has seen cultural policy swallowed up by a narrow vision of economic growth, its impacts on the urban fabric captured by property developers, and its promises of meaningful activity challenged by the exploitation and inequities of cultural labour markets. So it needs to be abandoned and re-thought, but on what basis?
This paper analyses the potential for cultural work to encourage alternative visions of the “good life”, in particular, how it might encourage a kind of “sustainable prosperity” wherein human flourishing is not linked to high levels of material consumption but rather the capabilities to engage with cultural and creative practices and communities.
Co-investigator Kate Oakley and former CUSP research fellow Jon Ward critically explore these ideas in three locations: a London borough, a deindustrialised city in England’s midlands and a rural town on the Welsh/English border. Across these diverse landscapes and socio-economic contexts, they look at different versions of the good life and at the possibilities and constraints of cultural activity as a way of achieving kinds of sustainable prosperity.