Research report

Neighbourly encounters in the rapidly changing city:

Researching Meet the Neighbours

April 2020

Dr Ben Dunn & Dr Abigail Gilmore, University of Manchester

This report considers the performance and practices of being ‘neighbourly’. It summarises research for Meet the Neighbours, a three-year project co-funded by the European Union’s Creative Europe programme that invited artists into neighbourhoods in cities undergoing rapid change. Reflecting on the project’s artist residencies and the urban contexts in which they took place, we investigate how the presence of artists can shape and create public space.

Following Richard Sennett’s work on the ethics for city dwelling, we consider how open forms of architecture and urban planning are supported by neighbourly practices of artists, institutions and participants, to offer opportunities for civic participation and social change.

The report finds that Meet the Neighbours provided ways to mobilise various neighbours as political actors, encouraging public discourse and facilitating agonistic public space. Though temporary, the residencies introduced and promoted the spatial practices of open form urbanism which negotiated domestic, private and public spheres and the boundaries and tensions of regeneration. At an organisational level, they changed the ways in which project partners think about and practice their relationships with their cities, and their neighbours.

Meet the Neighbours (2017-20) was a collaboration between Quarantine, Manchester, UK; La Comédie de Béthune, France; Galeria Labirynt, Lublin, Poland; Grand Theatre, Groningen, Netherlands; and LE 18, Marrakech, Morocco; with Florian Malzacher as curatorial advisor and University of Manchester, UK, as research coordinator.

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