With the rise of the post-industrial economy, cities worldwide have increasingly turned to cultural flagship development in an effort to attract capital and build an image of a world-class metropolis. This paper examines an instance of such development in Vancouver, Canada: the proposed relocation of the city’s major art museum, the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), in order to explicate the politics of cultural policymaking and urban development as they unfold in the Vancouver context. While the VAG proposal was predominantly justified as key to building a globally competitive vision of Vancouver as a liveable and creative city, this paper illustrates how this vision breaks down when confronted with the consequences of its pursuit – such as gentrification and displacement – as an urban planning strategy. This paper ultimately points to the complex and contradictory ways culture is implicated in neoliberal urbanism, arguing that culture is unevenly valorized as a central component of contemporary city building in Vancouver.
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