The economic Impact of street art in World Cities
Is there a street art economy?
Economists from around the world are working to establish the links between the cultural activity of cities and their economy.They set up the indicators to measure the economic impact of urban art in cities.
To date, studies tend to show that the cities with the most graffiti and murals have a vocation to become cultural and artistic centers. Urban art, together with other forms of art and cultural activities, contributes to the gentrification of these places. It significantly improves the attractiveness of certain districts, which were previously neglected..
The example of New York
It is increasingly through urban art that former industrial wastelands, under artists’ impulse, are regaining interest, value and traffic. This process of revitalization of abandoned spaces began in the 1970s in New York’s Lower East Side: former warehouses and lofts were taken over by galleries and studios, marking the revival of these areas long considered urban warts after their decline.
This example was a revelation. Cities around the world have all undergone their internal de-industrialisation. In fact, all these agglomerations are dotted with derelict industrial sites, storage areas or abandoned ports.
Restoration costs are very high. As a result, there are few candidates, private or public, with projects and the means to carry them out.
Urban art is an economic alternative
The transformation of these third places through art represents a cost-effective alternative. These vast spaces are a godsend for artists as well as for the businesses and associations that work together to develop them. Municipalities view the use of all or part of these abandoned sites with favour. They are subject to the condition that they are safe for the public, which is a mandatory prerequisite.
Urban art is part of the creative economy
This opened the way for a new “creative economy”.It is based both on the actual production of art and its consumption by a public receptive to this artistic lifestyle.
This economy is built on the balance between these two parameters. It has been widely taken up by a large number of governments in the early 2000s, with the aim of creating an environment as attractive as possible for the creative class, and in return enabling a thriving economy.
Many cities such as Miami, Valparaiso and New York have demonstrated the success of these approaches. Since then, numerous projects to renovate and transform former industrial zones are underway in all major cities around the world.
Attractiveness of cities
When municipalities and street artists discuss around the same table
A growing number of town halls and municipalities are working in partnership with artists, associations and local communities to promote the most important rehabilitation projects.
Far from being easy, the process nevertheless demonstrates a greater awareness on the part of municipalities of the economic role and return on investment of this art form. However, it is not easy to seat around the table actors who for a long time and even now, reject one another, poorly understand each other, and sometimes wage war against each other.
For example, some of the most prized works have been erased by city cleaning teams, at the same time as fresco projects are being discussed
with the same municipalities !
Urban art is of growing interest to collectors. In just a few years, it has become a key player in contemporary art.
According to reports from specialised sites such as ArtPrice, street art is one of the “most dynamic subsections of the contemporary art market”.
As a matter of fact, collectors are sensitive to this energetic, striking and inventive art. All the more so as its notoriety is increasingly being conveyed by social networks, making it more visible. As a result, prices are skyrocketing at auctions. Since 2006, works by Murakami, Banksy, Mr Brainwash, Kaws, Invader, Retna or Os Gemeos have gone from tens of thousands of dollars to several million dollars.
Artists as purveyors of urban art
The artists themselves contribute to this development, Banksy in the lead, by creating recognizable, strong, imposing and popular pieces. Artists use social media as image vectors, in particular Instagram, which is very well suited to their publications.
The public responds present
Public enthusiasm is also growing, a sign that this movement is sustainable, accepted and appreciated. There is a strong economy around urban art, driven by growing visibility in and off the streets, a buy-in from city dwellers and a strengthening of cohesion within the community.