VA7040 - The Arts, City Development and Rural Planning

What will I learn on this module?

City planners have long been interested in the role of the arts as a vehicle for realising their social and economic objectives. And artworks, festivals and socially-engaged art projects have increasingly been integrated in rural development also (across academia and practice). Giving focus to the potentialities of their role in positioning and translating the arts, this module explores the remit of cultural managers in the complex urban and rural situational context of social inequality and environmental catastrophe.

Specifically you will consider how place-based and policy-related initiatives have inter-related with the work of cultural managers to date, and model how these working relationships could develop in the future. Drawing on the North East of England and other case studies from the 1990s onwards, you will consider the way the arts have been integrated within development strategies with particular focus on how artworks, cultural buildings, and festivals have been commissioned to ameliorate post-industrial decline. You will give attention to the tensions arising from these so-called ‘culture-led regeneration’ strategies – between economic and social agendas and consider the role of the arts manager in relation to what the arts do, and can do, for our future.

You will develop methods, skills and attributes for developing, delivering and evaluating art and artistic projects in the social, economic and environmental context of the city-region. You will identify and reflect on the values that are attributed to the arts in this context and consider how cultural managers can develop ways of working with other regional professionals to respond to the complexities of our human-nature environment. To do so you will consider how relational theories and methods can inform the practice of cultural management in the planning context; consider how academic work can inform future practice; and how practice can inform academia.

Illustrative topics include: culture-led regeneration; cultural planning; neo-endogenous development; philosophical pragmatism, planning and the arts; public art; socially-engaged art practice.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures and workshops which are in the form of action learning sets (ALS). The ALS work will be focused on developing a project in response to a live brief from a city partner (such as a local government officer or NGO). The lectures will provide you with an introduction to theoretical frameworks and methods and how academic research informs urban and rural policy (or not); and these introductions will enable you to develop your ALS project where your will further interrogate policy narratives and how your practice intervention will support or challenge these. The action learning sets are small group workshops which allow you and your peers to work through the challenges and complexities of the live brief situation and decide which frameworks and methods are required to develop your work together.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your module tutor will play an active role in introducing the ambitions of the module, guiding you through module sessions, weekly e-learning activities as well as one-to-one tutorials and directing you to additional support as appropriate. All course materials will be available on the Blackboard site. The module tutor will have weekly office hours and you can also make appointments outside of these hours via email.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Understanding of the histories, practices, policies and ideologies of city-region social and economic development and the role of art within these programmes.
2. Ability to demonstrate a critical knowledge of the role of the arts in the past, current and future urban and rural planning contexts.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Ability to identify and communicate appropriate urban, rural and arts theory for cultural management.
4. Demonstrate the ability to self-direct your own learning and synergise theory and practice.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Sensitivity and awareness of cultural diversity and environmental challenge in a global context.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment will be carried out throughout the workshop sessions where you will discuss literature, issues and themes; and undertake problem-oriented tasks. Peer, tutor and client feedback will encourage sensitivity, ethnics and curiosity. All tasks will encourage the ability to communicate effectively.

The summative assessment will be in two parts: (1) a 1,000 word equivalent presentation and (2) a 4,000 word report which both demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the role of the arts in urban and rural development.

Module Learning Outcomes
KU 1,2,3; IPSA 1,2,3; PV 1,2





Module abstract

What is the future role of the cultural manager in urban and rural development? In urban and increasingly rural contexts the arts have long been situated as tools for economic development and social renewal. Responding to the complexities of our human-nature environment this module brings attention to the tensions arising from so-called ‘culture-led regeneration’ and asks how the arts can be positioned in support of our future living space and the skills and experience required for cultural managers as the professionals who are doing this work alongside planners and other urban and rural actors. The module draws from key theories including the research of the module tutors as leading academics in this field and the practice experience of a range of contributing professionals. You will develop methods, skills and attributes for developing, delivering and evaluating art and artistic projects in the social, economic and environmental context of the city-region and employment in this area across the public and private sectors in arts, business and social-enterprise contexts.

Course info

Credits 30

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time
1 other options available

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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