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Can paintings help poverty?

By Olivia Raciniewska

Art led gentrification is a process through which places are being developed based on middle class standards. Art led gentrification takes into account aspects such as murals and graffiti in places which may have not been as attractive to look at. It is all around us but we may not necessarily take the time to acknowledge it.

So when taking a break do we realise that the Cardiff which we have grown accustomed to is beginning to change? Art is beginning to show itself everywhere around us while conforming to the process of gentrification. The use of art and creativity by conglomerates and local authorities to sell and ‘improve’ places have a manipulative intention, therefore leading to societies being ‘cleansed’ of off what they used to be.

Such adaptation to the change of surroundings can transform a person in two ways. Either allowing them to feel as one with the rest of the community or to feel alienated from it.

These two extremes which stem from arts led gentrification are extremely prominent in Cardiff. One of which being at the Bay, it is not only a tourist attraction but it has also undergone a lot of renovation in the past few years. Such renovations meant drastic changes for some of the inhabitants of the Bay. Many people have been rehoused in order for the Bay to be renovated, but due to the prices of flats in the area it is near impossible for these individuals to move back. In this instance the gentrification process most definitely divided communities rather than bringing them back together.

But what about the art gentrification we see around the university on a regular basis? An example is past Senghennydd Court on St. Andrews Place. We are presented with a very clear example of art led gentrification. Does the graffiti of Dylan the Dragon bring us closer together as a community, or does it divide us? Is there a sense of pride among Cardiff University students? After all, what Dylan is showing us on this mural is our graduation day (which we all doubt will arrive at certain points in our time here).

Such questions don’t necessarily provide a straightforward answer. However, I do believe that arts led gentrification poses less issues in communities than architectural gentrification as shown in the process in Cardiff Bay. Arts led gentrification allows us to gain a sense of community while also helping to bring people together who don’t necessarily have to be stood in a crowd to feel that way. As I’m sure that we all come together during varsity!

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