22nd March: 4.00pm

The role of culture in urban regeneration and community development
This event will examine the role of culture in social and economic development using the case study of the ambitious V&A East project in East London.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is embarking on a landmark project to revolutionise how its world-class collection is accessed and experienced. V&A East will create two complementary sites, a new Collection and Research Centre at Here East and a museum at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East London.

In a keynote lecture, Dr Gus Casely-Hayford OBE, Director, V&A East, will describe the approach adopted by V&A to community engagement and regeneration which will be followed by responses from local leaders in this field. The event will close with a Q&A.

Culture-led regeneration arguably has attracted greater policy attention now that at any previous time with funders, local authorities, economic agencies, and cultural institutions, along with their partners, supporting ambitious economic and social development programmes. These include Belfast City Council’s ‘Creative Communities’ programme, Arts Council England’s ‘Creative People and Places’, Belfast Harbour’s ‘Creative Studios’ and the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Great Place Scheme’. There is now a clear recognition of the importance of supporting urban regeneration and community development through culture and the added social and economic value that derives from tourism development, supporting the arts, heritage and cultural sectors, to enhancing community pride and cohesion.

Responding to Gus’s presentation, we are delighted to have the following panellists involved:

Susan Picken Susan is Director of the Cathedral Quarter Trust, a cultural regeneration agency working in and around Belfast’s historic city centre Cathedral Quarter. Amongst the projects the trust delivers is Belfast’s yearly Culture Night event, the city’s largest free arts event with annual audiences of over 90,000. Between 2008 and 2017 Susan was head of the Queen’s Film Theatre (QFT), where she managed all aspects of programming and operations, building audiences of around 100,000 each year and overseeing the cinema’s full conversion to digital technology. In 2012, Susan oversaw the introduction and set-up of Film Hub NI, part of the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Film Audience Network, a major UK-wide audience development project based around a series of regional and national film hubs. Prior to this, Susan had many years’ experience working in cultural cinema in London. Roles included running events at London’s National Film Theatre (now BFI Southbank) and running the film programme at the Hospital Club, the members’ club for the creative industries.

Jak Spencer Jak is founding partner of Urban Scale Interventions – a creative studio tackling challenges in the places we live, work and play through design-led thinking. He has a PhD in design for behaviour change and has worked on a diverse array of people-centred innovation and strategy projects for brands and cities around the globe. Before establishing USI, Jak led the Social and Global Research Space at the Royal College of Art in London. His research interests lie in developing the methods and tools of people-centred design to solve difficult global social and business challenges. Jak’s work has been disseminated internationally and he has recently co-authored the Routledge book ‘Design for Global Challenges and Goals’ which examines the influence of design on achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Suzanne Wylie Suzanne Wylie took up the post of Chief Executive of Belfast City Council in 2014. During her time, she has built strong relationships with the private and wider public sector – pitching Belfast globally as a great place to live, work, visit and invest.

Suzanne has led the creation of and significant progress on the city’s 20 year strategy, The Belfast Agenda, which in the context of COVID-19 is more important than ever. With the buy in of Belfast’s key stakeholders she agreed a shared vision and created long-term ambitions for the city which include job creation, inward investment, and investment in neighbourhoods and skills. This includes targets to create 46,000 new jobs and attract 66,000 more city dwellers and to achieve over £1bn of real estate investment. The city is also focused on climate change and has set up a joint commission with the universities focused on how green investment can stimulate the economy.

Suzanne also led the charge to secure a £1bn Belfast Region City Deal – this investment will be a key pillar in how the city and its region rebuilds and recovers in the wake of COVID-19 with a huge focus on innovation and digital investment to propel competitive advantage.

Working with key city partners Suzanne is committed to weaving digital innovation into all aspects of our economy, infrastructure and healthcare services through the establishment of the city’s first Digital Innovation Partnership and has recently appointed a Digital Commissioner to help create smart innovation districts with business clusters in growth sectors such as tech and health diagnostics and analytics.

Suzanne has led the Council in its city leadership role during the response to COVID-19, and has started the careful planning for rebuilding and recovering with elected representatives and the city’s key stakeholders.

Find out more: va east

date & time

date & time

22nd March
(duration: 60 minutes)




This virtual event is free

event partner

Images: V&A