Programme: History of Art - MPhil/PhD/MSc by Research

Start date: September 2020

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: Public space in cultural policy: A democratisation of culture through creative placemaking

Katja Martin-Rettberg is a first year PhD student in History of Art at The University of Edinburgh. After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in History of Art and French at the University of Glasgow (2018), she graduated from the MA in Arts Management, Policy and Practice at the University of Manchester in 2019. Her research is mainly concerned with cultural democracy, placemakings and gentrification.

One of her personal strengths is public speaking, thanks to her past positions as a Tour Guide at The Hunterian (Glasgow, 2018) and Lecturer/Guide at Victor Hugo’s House (Guernsey, 2020). She was interviewed by BBC Guernsey to speak on behalf of Victor Hugo’s House (August, 2020), and published a press article on the contemporary art exhibitions Transition.1 and Transition.2 in The Guernsey Press (‘Aaron Yeandle, contemporary artist in Guernsey’, October 2020).

Additionally, she is fluent in French, German, and Spanish. She has been thoroughly trained in Translation during her UG and past positions as Curatorial Assistant at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester (2019) and Victor Hugo’s House in Guernsey (2020). Her language and translation skills have prepared her for future research to study cultural policies from broad international perspectives.

Katja Martin-Rettberg’s current research project is an inter-disciplinary study on a relatively new cultural policy called ‘creative placemaking’. This project is covered by a cross-disciplinary supervisory team from the Arts and Social Sciences, and draws from the fields of Urban Visual Studies, Cultural Policy and Gentrification.

Unlike other cultural policies, creative placemaking has received an unparalleled popularity in record time since its initial conception in 2010. It uses arts and culture as tools for strategically reshaping urban spaces, and its aims include social cohesion and improving local businesses. Being loosely defined to this date, this practice has often been associated to gentrification.

Katja’s PhD thesis studies how creative placemaking has developed in a site-specific UK context, and proposes the implementation of cultural democracy values as a potential solution to make it more equitable. It aims to produce a development proposal for embedding democratic values into this practice, and to study this cultural policy through the lens of spatiality.