Under gentrification, what is possible for young artists, hence how they see themselves, is dramatically different. They cannot afford to live or work. They are faced with conformity of aesthetics and values in their neighbourhoods. Conventional bourgeois behaviour becomes a requirement for surviving socially, developing professionally and earning a living. By necessity their goals are altered. Reimagining the world becomes far more difficult, and reflecting back what power brokers and institutional administrators think about themselves feels essential to survival.
Here we see a really pivotal moment of change, when art must become something that does not make people uncomfortable, so that they will spend money. The kind of person who is expected to consume art is transformed in the mind of the producer. The people who might very possibly love being expanded by what they see are never given the chance. They're trained to be narcissistic and unimaginative, even if they could be productive creative thinkers. Drawing a connection between the art they see and the world in which they live in becomes less available. The long-term effect of such a condition is that gatekeepers (producers/agents/publishers/editors/programmers/critics) become narrower and narrower in terms of what they are willing to present, living in a state of projected fear of ever presenting anything that could make someone uncomfortable. There is a dialogic relationship with culture – when consumers learn that uncomfortable=bad instead of expansive, they develop an equation of passivity with the art – going experience. In the end the definition of what is “good” becomes what does not challenge, and the entire endeavour of art-making is undermined. Profit-making institutions then become committed to producing what the disney-funded design programs call “imagineers” the craftsmen version of Mouseketeers, workers trained to churn out acceptable product, while thinking of themselves as “artists”
Sarah Schulman The gentrification of the mind: witness to a lost imagination
The gentrification of creativity