London Vs The Developers

Curzon Soho is one of London’s flagship arthouse cinemas. Recent announcements revealed that it may be knocked down to make way for the Crossrail 2 development. The West End Extra newspaper originally broke the story about a possible demolition and it was taken up by the Daily Telegraph. The Guardian and many other publications have also picked up the story.

On 17 April 2016, The Observer published an excellent and detailed article outlining why the battle to save Curzon Soho matters. Read it here

– West End Extra article:
– Daily Telegraph article:
– The Guardian:

In the recent past, Curzon Soho has been named the best cinema in London by readers of the listings magazine ‘Time Out’. However, this unique, lovely and important cinema is under threat as it has been named a “surface area of interest” by those organising the £25 billion Crossrail 2 project.

Losing Curzon Soho would be yet another nail in the coffin for the arts in London for the sake of the commercial and financial gain of the minority. Any proposal to demolish this wonderful cinema would be yet another example of the rampant ‘beigification’ of London. Londoners should unite and reject any proposals to destroy our cultural heritage.

Those of us who want to save Curzon Soho from such a destructive and shameful fate need to fight for its wellbeing right now. A petition signed by 1000s of people whilst the open consultation process is ongoing may just make developers think twice about demolishing our arthouse cinema.

We need the power of signatures to help us convince developers that the cinema is worth keeping and important to many people.


CFP – Nordic Geographers Meeting

Session N8 – Artist strategies and methods of resistance in the regenerated city

Urbanism as process and product is the source and profit of capital production. Hence the city, its urban fabric and socio-spatial structure manifest and correlate with its economy. Artists and art have long been at the centre of the economic transformation of the city with a well-established relationship between the arts sector and the private (commercial) sector of urban regeneration and gentrification. This varies from the temporary inhabitation of post-industrial urban areas and buildings under disrepair, as studios, galleries, and sites for temporary art works, through to the flagship tenant status of educational, gallery and museum institutions, and the commissioning of public artworks within urban redevelopment and regeneration projects. Their presence builds a positive image of a cultural ‘creative hub’ that both attracts a different social set and adds value to the area. This added cultural and commercial capital value asset for the developers render art and artists as complicit agents in social and economic injustices and inequalities effected through regeneration and gentrification processes. Their actions valorise the decanting of low-income residents and independent businesses, and help to striate the socio-economic make up of urban areas from which they eventually also end up excluded.

This panel seeks to bring together researchers from across disciplines such as artists, geographers, curators, spatial and socio-economic theorists and practitioners to question and propose how might art, and artists contribute as agents for positive long-term socio-political change? One in which their actions and artworks do not give credence to developer and governmental neoliberal regeneration and gentrification strategies. Contributions are invited in the form of papers, presentations, and performances/readings that challenge the current status quo and propose alternate strategies, and methods of resistance and action for artists and art in the regenerated city.

Dr Pat Naldi (Art Programme, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London) Please submit paper abstracts to

CFP – AAG 2017


DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS: 16th November 2016
Boston AAG 5th-9th April, 2017

Session Conveners – Charles Barlow (University of Chicago) and Julie Clark (University of the West of Scotland)

Placemaking and community have gained considerable prominence in policy and planning strategies in recent years. Nevertheless, the rhetoric of inclusion obscures the tensions and competing agendas embedded in managing urban transformation. Along one axis, these efforts are complicated by divergent interests and priorities from myriad stakeholders, ranging from policymakers to private investors to community members themselves. These plural narratives and complicated still further when we consider the role of the civic-minded researcher and our aspiration for geographical inquiry to not just do no harm, but to do good on participants’ terms rather than academics (PyGyRG 2009).

Taking inspiration from the Autonomous Geographies Collective suggestion that ‘the most important principle for academics committed to social change is to make strategic interventions collectively with the social movements we belong to’ (2010, 247), this session seeks to explore methodological approaches that recognize and engage with the value of normative ideas embedded within and negotiated by communities (Smith 2009) and question and destabilize traditional barriers between us, the ‘experts’ and the marginalized ‘researched’ to carve out spaces for collaboration and the co-production of knowledge. Indeed, no matter how laudable, the new orthodoxy of community participation and civic engagement in the urban transformation process poses unanswered questions about who is represented and how, is silent on the role of the civic-minded researcher, while the question of what it takes to create and sustain vibrant urban communities remains as live as ever.

Through this session, we hope to foster discussion of the myriad methodological approaches that inform and advance our understanding of community, and particularly welcome papers engaged with:

· placemaking in policy and planning contexts (e.g. public interest design);

· grassroots community initiatives (e.g. activism and social movements);

· co-production and participatory methods applied in the urban environment; and,

· methodological challenges that complicate our understanding of community (e.g. positionality)
Please kindly e-mail abstracts along with your PIN to [log in to unmask] and [log in to unmask] as soon as possible.
Register for the Boston AAG conference at:

New book

Claiming Neighborhood – New Ways of Understanding Urban Change
How power and perception transforms the City of Neighborhoods

Using historical case studies in Chicago, John J. Betancur and Janet L. Smith examine the forces shaping neighborhoods today, focusing on both theoretical and practical explanations for why neighborhoods change.

As the authors show, a diverse collection of people and institutions, including urban policy experts, elected officials, investors, speculators, academics, service providers, resident leaders, churches, and community-based organizations, compete to control how neighborhoods change and are characterized. Their interactions and power plays ultimately determine the fate of neighborhoods and their residents. A key argument made is that in our postindustrial economy, neighborhoods have become sites of consumption and spaces to be consumed. Discourse is used to add and subtract value from them—for example, a romanticized image of “the neighborhood” too often exaggerates or obscures race and class struggles while celebrating diversity and income mixing. The authors challenge this image, arguing that in order to explain and govern urban space more equitably, scholars and policy makers must reexamine what sustains this image and the power effects produced.

Combining rich scholarship with fresh on-the-ground research, Betancur and Smith reveal the underlying dynamics that create and re-create neighborhoods in a contemporary American metropolis.

“Claiming Neighborhood: New Ways of Understanding Urban Change largely lives up to its name. I have wanted to read a book about Chicago as a whole in order to place the voluminous literature on specific Chicago neighorhoods, forms of housing, or specific problems. Gentrification, decline, and stagnation are traced through public policy and market based changes in three neighborhoods. Drawing on Levebvre as well as other French social theorists, the authors develop a more agentic view of neighborhood conditions over time. They specifically focus on the role of social science representations of space in shaping these trajectories. Urban scholars, as well as urban planners would do well to read this. It also would provide a useful text for Urban Planning , Geography, and Urban Studies students.” –Susan Saegert, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

John J. Betancur is a professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Janet L. Smith is an associate professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.