Putting Soul in the City – towards a manifesto by Graham Henderson

Poet in the City presents an art manifesto on how to use public art to transform the 21st Century urban landscape.

Graham Henderson’s essay is a call to radical action, to create William Blake’s future city of the arts in the digital age, and to use the arts and culture not only to beautify the public realm but also to express our values, provide social identity and cohesion, and provide new opportunities for science and enterprise. It is a call for a complete change in the way public art is taught, planned, commissioned, delivered and built, making it a key part of place-making in every urban development. It is also a call to empower culture and the arts, restoring them to their rightful place at the heart of the social project, encourage and stimulate the building of social capital, and contribute to a new kind of active citizenship. And it is a call to create environmentally sustainable cities, fit for the future. We live in a bland and bureaucratic age where originality, beauty and difference are usually crushed. And when a place is anonymous and without identity we describe it as soulless. This is a call to put the soul back into the city, and to recognise the central importance of public art to our shared humanity, to allow the free expression of a democratic culture, whether in material forms or through live street arts, and to liberate culture and the arts to create bold new public expressions of who we are in the 21st Century. It is a call for a manifesto for these public arts.

This essay has emerged from the Farrell Review of Architecture & the Built Environment 2014, http://www.farrellreview.co.uk/, and from a new initiative to raise the profile of the arts in the context of the Review. Click here to read the essay.

If you would like to respond to arguments made in this essay please contact the author Graham Henderson, Public Art Consultant at Poet in the City on graham@poetinthecity.co.uk
Pledge your support by emailing manifesto@beam.uk.net

Webimage: photograph @Guy Bell 2015