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Critically discuss how image enhancement has played a part in event regeneration and critically discuss the extent to which event regeneration leads to housing – related displacement in event host cities.
Governments often use Events as a catalyst in host cities of mega events in the aid to enhancing the image of these cities through implementing urban regeneration targeting run down parts of the host location. (Jago et al, 2010:227).
This essay aims to critically discuss how image enhancement has played a part in event regeneration and how they link to create an impact. Alongside this, this essay will also discuss the extent to which event regeneration leads to housing – related displacement in event host cities by highlighting the positives and negatives of event regeneration using specific examples as reference from previous mega events such as the Rio 2016 Olympics, the 2008 European Capital of Culture and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Image is intangible the way something looks and is perceived, how people view an image could vary per individual as they will be drawn and focused on different aspects of the image in this case, the city. Image enhancement in a city aspect is giving it a new outlook, revamping and regenerating what it already has to show off and adding new aspects to help the city reach its full potential and generate a boost in the economy, environment, infrastructure and tourism. As just stated: Image, what image enhancement is and there definitions varies per individual, each person has their own opinion and ideas of what it is and what it means to them. This could be regarding an association via word of mouth about the city for example Paris is perceived as “the city of love” with the Paris lock bridge and Eiffel tower being staple monumental aspects of the city associated with this perception. According to Zhang “….. destination image is generally interpreted as a compilation of beliefs and impressions based on information processing from various sources over time that result in a mental representation of the attributes and benefits sought of a destination” (Zhang et al, 2014, p.215).
Continuing on with the idea of image within a city, According to Smith (2012, p181) “…..Branding can be a mode of communication that aims to position products relative to their competition and by their personality.” Some cities utilise events as part of their identify. Branding and co-branding can show general impression of cities, it can be seen as a positive aspect of image. Marketing through the use of an event, a mega event in particular is the easiest and quickest way for a brand to promote itself. In regards to events, branding and co-branding aims to invoke functional attributes and symbolic values and change consumer behaviour by encouraging awareness and loyalty to brands. Cities use brands to help spread awareness of the city, this has both positives and negatives aspects. It is a positive thing for the city as it may attract an array of consumers whom or already loyal to the brand being promoted, with that being said similarly consumers may choose not to attend the event dependent on the brand association as consumers are generally already loyal. An example of where a city has used a brand with an event to promote a city can be seen at the 2018 Formula 1 Grand Prix Race in Singapore. (Smith, 2012)
Events can help people change what they know about a city through the use of image enhancement. Image enhancement can drive the consumer’s decision on a city and help reach a decision on whether or not to visit a city. There are numerous ways in which image enhancement can play a role in redeveloping and regenerating a city, According to Smith (2012) this can be done through a set of image objectives. Awareness building is one image objective that Smith (2012) mentions. Events can help build awareness of a city by showcasing a emphasis of the city and what it truly has to offer. Another objective is Cognitive image development. Events can help people change what they know about a city, giving a new perspective. An example of a city which has portrayed this is Liverpool during the hosting of the 2008 European Capital of Culture (ECOC). Prior to 2008 Liverpool was known to be a city with a bad reputation, suffering from social issues such as high crime rates. They were also known to have issues with de-industrialisation and poverty, a city trapped within negative stereotypes and a 30 year decline with employment, a city struggling to find a solution out of this which is where the ECOC completely changed Liverpool for the better. The city now thrives to be a popular city with a now positive image whereas as before, as previously stated it was very much the opposite. It is now a city that people want to visit and is perceived by the public and its residents as a better place to live, a city thriving with culture. (Lio 2014A, P.19). Another image objectives of Smith’s is Evaluate image enhancement, similar to cognitive image development, this involves changing what people think about a city. Finally, attribute based image development, another image objective Smith (2012) speaks of. This involves using events to attribute a specific focus for example – “Glasgow is the city of music” and since the 2014 common wealth games, continue on with the city of Glasgow, the slogan “People Make Glasgow” has stuck and is now a main focus of the city and is what it is known for.
Garcia (2007) speaks of a holistic city image change. This collates all objectives previously, changing what people think of a city as a whole. This author speaks about how this created a united destination guide for city, specifically Singapore.
Relating back to the idea of image enhancement and how a city is perceived by the public a term used to describe how cities shape how they are viewed is the term ‘Carnival Mask’. The hosting of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil’s Rio De Janeiro 2016, here we are portrayed with a perfect example of where the metaphor “carnival mask” has been played out. The carnival mask metaphor is one used to describe to be worn by cities and there governments in order to only let be seen what they want to be seen with all real issues and problems been swept away, hidden behind this ‘carnival mask’. Harvey (1989 cited in Smith et al 2012, p.32 ) is an author who feels that the superficial regeneration undertaken ‘….. Diverts and entertains, leaving the social problems which lie behind the mask unseen and uncared for’. Some would even argue that events, mega events in particular create more social problems as opposed to providing a solution to resolving them. (Smith 2012) Rio is one primary example seen to be a key player in wearing this ‘carnival mask’, a city known for being one of the poorest cities in the world, eager to host the 2016 Olympics in the bid to give there city the economic boost is has always lacked, a transformation of its transport system, provide better housing and a rise in tourism. During the Olympics Rio was thriving and tourism was at an all-time high but what Rio’s government failed to show was all the families and businesses within the country shunned and pushed aside or demolished in order to create this magnificent event, how the media saw and revealed them, a city now overcrowded with social housing problems, a decline in financial sectors and numerous abandoned buildings (white elephants). Rio post Olympics 2016 failed to invest money generated by the Olympics in to the shacks within the shanty towns of Rio (Favela buildings) illustrating a real lack of care for the main social issues with the city.
Regeneration is the process of change with progressive outcomes, it is identifying what a city, town or place is lacking and confiding a plan in order to put in the necessary assumed measures in order to target the political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental (PESTLE) issues present within these cities or towns in order to regenerate life back in to them and refresh the portrayed image of them as well as to deindustrialise them and leave a lasting impression or legacy. (SMITH 2012)
The main focus of this essay is alongside image enhancement is Event Regeneration and how it leads to housing displacement. Event regeneration can be sub divided in to smaller categories – Event led regeneration and Event themed Regeneration.
Event led Regeneration is the invention of new facilities or upgrading those which already exist. The aspect of change is driven, which becomes the city’s main focus through the use of the Event. (Smith 2012)
Event Themed Regeneration as opposed to being driven by change is driven by goals out with the event. In event themed regeneration, parallel initiatives are added to events to enable broader effects. This involves physical change being implemented to the built environment in alliance with events but which are not directly needed to organise an event. (Smith 2012)
However according to Jones (2001), this form of regeneration doesn’t necessarily bring all positives to the host city, like every situation negative impacts balance the positives and in this case the negative impact being a strain put on the social aspect of the city. The social cost of regeneration in this form is often stress placed on the local housing property, resulting in residents being evicted from their homes by force as well as displacement of the socially excluded. Jargo et al (2010:227) also agrees with Jones cessation stating, the “lower social-economic groups who live in these rundown districts are often relocated with little or no voice in the matter”.
A recent example of where residents have been evicted due to making room for a mega event could be seen at, referring back to Rio 2016 where 386 families were evicted from their homes by force in order to make room for a bus lane which linked the airport with the area of which would be host to the majority of the Olympic games venues. In most cases this would generally mean that these families were offered compensation to commiserate there loses and help steer them on a new path in a new location however in this case, as opposed to being awarded compensation these families were just relocated to locations deemed to be affordable over 30 km away from their original places of residence. Further to this a staggering 19,000 families were evicted to make room for construction of the Olympic stadium and village resulting in a lot of stress and hardship for these families who were left to feel felt degraded in there quality of life due to the demolishment of their homes and being out with their local area, forced to restart there life’s where staying in the same jobs and attending the same educational institutions weren’t possible. These are just two examples out of numerous housing displacement issues within Rio only due to event regeneration.
Despite displacement being an undoubtedly negative aspect of event regeneration, according to Bernstock (2014) it could also be seen as a positive thing to a certain extent. This is due to the holistic perspective of the displacement, thus it enabled the mega event to go ahead which overall has a great impact on the city as a whole. For example the economic boost, which in hindsight should contribute towards providing solutions to resolve the social issues created.
With that being said, Events are only part of the process and cannot be held liable for full blame. Gentrification-induced displacement is another form of displacement which is regarding families having no choice but to leave there homes due to physical and economic issues such as an increase in rent also referred to as direct displacement. Alongside this, indirect displacement in another form of displacement which is where homes become no longer tangible. This could be due to a change within the urban area, an example of how this could occur could be due to war. (Dowse et al. 2018)
- DINNIE, K., ed. 2011. City branding: theory and cases. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- DOWSE, S., POWELL, S., and WEED, M. 2018. Mega-sporting events and children’s rights and interests – towards a better future. Leisure Studies [online], vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 97-108 [viewed 21 August 2018]. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rlst20
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