American Sociological Association

Urban Redevelopment, Cultural Philanthropy and the Commodification of Artistic Authenticity in Toronto

This article offers a multiscalar, sociohistoric account of the spatial struggles of Toronto artists from 1970 until the present to secure affordable living and work space downtown that foregrounds the contemporary role of the cultural philanthropist‐developer. It argues that the cultural capital of artists to identify and embody authenticity facilitated temporary spatial claims that supported the development of a local art scene on Queen Street West, but one that became dependent upon, yet vulnerable to, the sociospatial unevenness of cultural philanthropy. Benevolence in arts and culture is not distributed evenly across time and space. Instead, as the case study of the 401 Richmond arts hub reveals, benevolence in its alliances with the real estate market and property development is concentrated in individualized commitments to particular neighborhoods, buildings, and local relationships, which temporally and operationally constrains its policy‐transforming potential.


Alison L. Bain





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