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Jonathan Ward and Phil Hubbard

There is now a substantial academic literature in urban studies critiquing the way that restrictive ideas of culture are deployed in urban policy, to the exclusion of many forms of vernacular creativity whose role in urban life remains unacknowledged. The way that the visual arts are often deemed an appropriate mechanism for urban regeneration is a case in point, with many schemes to reinvigorate declining or shrinking cities pursuing strategies based on the creation of arts quarters or flagship art galleries. This chapter examines the consequences of such strategies, taking the example of Folkestone (England), a town struggling with legacies of post-industrialism associated with the decline of its port status. Exploring the way that Folkestone is being reinvented as a ‘cultural destination’, the chapter highlights the limitations of this approach, focusing on the way that current policies have alienated and excluded certain forms of local creativity at the same time they have encouraged a putative gentrification process that threatens to displace those that arts-based gentrification set out to assist.