Arts in the City

Examining the role of the arts in social-cultural urban infrastructure

Arts in the City considers the role that arts can play in making a ‘good city’ in the context of the Global South.

The Arts in the City project aims to understand and enhance the social-cultural urban infrastructure in two cities in South America: Salvador (Brazil) and Cochabamba (Bolivia). The project is led by an international interdisciplinary team from the UK, Brazil and Bolivia from the humanities, social sciences, medicine, and urban planning sectors, in partnership with established charities. We are investigating whether active engagement with the arts through participatory musical encounters can change peoples’ perceptions of their own social connectedness, loneliness, and social wellbeing and promote integration across the divide of otherness in Salvador and Cochabamba.

In contrast to urban advancement in developed countries, the social infrastructure of overpopulated cities in the Global South remains a challenge with the unequal income-distribution and societal boundaries in these cities leading to isolation, loneliness, and poor health and wellbeing. The project explores how the growing evidence that the arts can promote wellbeing and social connectedness may be applied within the context of the Global South.  This transnational project focuses on understanding and enhancing social-cultural urban infrastructure in Salvador (Brazil) and Cochabamba (Bolivia). It will use large-scale surveys in both cities, ascertaining citizens’ experiences of social-cultural engagement and how this is associated with public wellbeing. Interventions using music in the form of ‘musical encounters’ will then engage a sub-group of citizens who self-define as ‘othered’ and isolated, despite living in overcrowded urban spaces. In particular, the intervention aims to integrate families of those with disabilities across the divide of urban otherness, with mixed methods employed to investigate its effectiveness.

Our findings will inform policymaking, urban planning , and social-cultural infrastructure for a ‘good city’ and advance the evidence base for the importance of the arts for wellbeing in the context of the Global South.

Project team

Tania Lisboa, RCM (PI)
Rosie Perkins, RCM
Caitlin Shaughnessy, RCM

Supported by

The British Academy (2023-24)

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Publications will be posted here in due course.

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