Since the 1980s, artists have been studied as agents of urban gentrification. Well established theories and case studies have provided numerous evidences of the role of artists as initiators of the gentrification process in working-class neighborhoods. From a productive-side perspective, placing an emphasis on the rent-gap and land development, as well as consumption-side perspective, analyzing the features of individuals, art production and artists have been identified as a source of initial gentrification. Complementary theorizations have studied the second wave of displacement produced by the massive arrival of private capital, which often has affected the artists themselves. The present paper adds to the body of literature than identifies the public sector as another key agent of gentrification. The paper analyzes the role of Barcelona’s public sector in the process of implementing this redevelopment program, and its interaction with artists in the neighborhood. In specific terms, it discusses the case of the Hangar Collective, located in Can Ricart, an old factory building which had been the home of small firms and artist groups. This center was at the heart of the urban struggle to maintain the status of firms and artists in the neighborhood, and to preserve the architectonic structure of the old factory complex. By 2010, once displaced small firms and groups of low-budget artists, only the artist’s association with Hangar, supported by public funds, remained in Can Ricart.
Keywords: public policy, gentrification, artist, new economy, Barcelona