Winter wonderlands: public outdoor ice rinks, entrepreneurial display and festive socialities in UK cities

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Western Kentucky University]On: 28 October 2014, At: 17:39Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Leisure StudiesPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rlst20</p><p>Winter wonderlands: public outdoorice rinks, entrepreneurial display andfestive socialities in UK citiesDavid Bell aa School of Geography , University of Leeds , Leeds, UKPublished online: 21 Jan 2009.</p><p>To cite this article: David Bell (2009) Winter wonderlands: public outdoor ice rinks,entrepreneurial display and festive socialities in UK cities, Leisure Studies, 28:1, 3-18, DOI:10.1080/02614360802260952</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02614360802260952</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rlst20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/02614360802260952http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02614360802260952http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Leisure StudiesVol. 28, No. 1, January 2009, 318</p><p>ISSN 0261-4367 print/ISSN 1466-4496 online 2009 Taylor &amp; FrancisDOI: 10.1080/02614360802260952http://www.informaworld.com</p><p>Winter wonderlands: public outdoor ice rinks, entrepreneurial display and festive socialities in UK cities</p><p>David Bell*</p><p>School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UKTaylor and Francis LtdRLST_A_326262.sgm(Received November 2007; final version received June 2008)10.1080/02614360802260952Leisure Studies0261-4367 (print)/1466-4496 (online)Original Article2008Taylor &amp; Francis0000000002008Dr DavidBelld.j.bell@leeds.ac.uk</p><p>This paper provides a critical discussion of the uses and meanings of temporaryoutdoor ice rinks, which have become increasingly popular in UK cities over thelast decade. The installation of ice rinks in cities in winter time is framed in anumber of contexts, including entrepreneurial governance and civic boosterism,the uses of culture by the local state, invented winter and Christmas traditions, theeffects of cold winter weather on sociality and other forms of embodied playargued to be reshaping urban socialities. Conceiving ice rinks as a form ofentrepreneurial display, the paper also draws on theories of expressiveembodiment to explore how rinks also encourage particular ways of performingand interacting that contest current critiques of the effects of entrepreneurial urbangovernance.</p><p>Keywords: ice skating; play; urban governance; cultural policy; embodiment</p><p>Introduction: cities on ice</p><p>Too-tight boots, break-neck speed and the inevitable sprawling slide across the ice in wetjeans. Its the open-air ice-skating season: the time of year when councils across thecountry try their best to transform gritty inner cities into a rosy-cheeked winter wonder-land. (Ewing, 2007)</p><p>In this paper, I examine temporary outdoor ice rinks, which have become increasinglypopular in UK cities over the last decade. I situate the installation of ice rinks in citiesin winter time in a number of contexts, including discussions of entrepreneurialgovernance and civic boosterism, related issues of the uses of culture by the localstate, ideas about invented winter tradition and some previous research on the effectsof cold winter weather on sociality and on plays role in reshaping urban social rela-tions. I explore not only how ice rinks might be seen as a form of entrepreneurialdisplay the use of spectacles in the service of promotional urban governance butalso how they can be seen to encourage particular ways of acting and interacting,which I will refer to as festive socialities. These, I argue, contest the assumptionsbehind critical commentaries of contemporary urban governance. The paper draws ondiscussions of expressive embodiment in dance and in play to develop this argument(Radley, 1995; Sheehan, 2006; Stevens, 2007; Thrift, 1997). My analysis thus offersa critique of the literature on culture-led regeneration by focusing on how people</p><p>*Email: d.j.bell@leeds.ac.uk</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Wes</p><p>tern</p><p> Ken</p><p>tuck</p><p>y U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 17:</p><p>39 2</p><p>8 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>4 D. Bell</p><p>make use of the spaces created in the entrepreneurial city, through a discussion of onesuch space, the temporary outdoor ice rink. I proceed to assess the urban outdoor icerink as illustrative of what Latham (2003) refers to as the contemporary enthusiasmfor the city (p. 1699) an enthusiasm that exceeds or eludes the authorised practicesof entrepreneurial governance. To achieve these aims, I draw on observations of icerinks in selected UK cities in the 200506, 200607 and 200708 winter seasons, aswell as selected media coverage of the phenomenon.1 While cities in different parts ofthe world host ice skating in various forms (Ewing, 2007), my paper is limited ingeographical scope to the UK, since growth in rink provision has been particularlypronounced there (Mourby, 2005).</p><p>The paper begins by outlining some of the main issues surrounding entrepreneurialgovernance, culture-led regeneration and civic boosterism. It then considers the wintertime, and in particular the Christmas season, pointing to some of the ways in whichfestive activities and attractions have been packaged under the conditions of entrepre-neurial governance. I then discuss the current popularity of ice rinks in UK towns andcities, identifying some of the ways in which these are framed by those who pay for,manage or support their use as part of culture-led regeneration. I connect ice rinks toother forms of entrepreneurial display and highlight the distinctive features of thisform of event. This is achieved in part by drawing on work on how people interact inpublic spaces in winter time, discussion of the festivities of Christmas and New Yearand research that explores how play is productive of particular ways of acting andinteracting. I centre the discussion around debates on the uses and meanings of publicspace in the context of entrepreneurial urban governance, and here I will focus onLeeds, a large, formerly industrial city in Yorkshire, in the north of England. Myoverall aim is to use temporary public ice rinks as a way to think through some largerquestions and debates, about cities and their management, about public space, aboutways of performing, relating and interacting in those cities and spaces. The paperdraws on opportunistic observational data, which are presented as a series of snap-shots or vignettes illustrative of the broader argument being put forward.</p><p>The entrepreneurial city and cultural policy</p><p>There has been sustained academic discussion about the changing ways in which citiesin countries such as the UK have been run and managed, and these changes are oftenshort-handed by talking of entrepreneurial urban governance or new urban manage-rialism (Hall &amp; Hubbard, 1998). In the light of global (and national) economicrestructuring and changing political priorities since the 1970s, the articulation ofcentral government to the local state is argued to have changed, as cities (and, ofcourse, suburban and rural places too) have been turned from a welfarist relationshiptowards an entrepreneurial relationship with central government. The exact contoursof this are beyond the remit of this paper, and are well covered in the literature (see,for example, Harvey, 1989; Hughes, 1999; Ward, 2003). The main issue that needs tobe borne in mind here is that the shift towards entrepreneurial governance asks thelocal state to act in a business-like manner, to be enterprising and to no longer be in astraightforwardly dependent relationship with central government, especially in termsof funding. Cities are now in competition with each other for sources of revenue. Thisturn is parallel with, and intimately related to, the decline of the industrial base, andthe move towards a post-industrial economy. Cities now have to find new tradableassets to raise money, to attract footloose post-industrial capital, to maintain or</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Wes</p><p>tern</p><p> Ken</p><p>tuck</p><p>y U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 17:</p><p>39 2</p><p>8 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>Leisure Studies 5</p><p>improve their position on the urban hierarchy and to regenerate after the loss of indus-try. This had meant, among other things, a shift from cities as sites of industrialproduction to places of post-industrial consumption (Jayne, 2005), and a greateremphasis on inter-urban (and even intra-urban) competitiveness, manifest in thingslike city branding and place promotion.</p><p>This marketisation or competitivisation of urban governance has been opera-tionalised through a growing portfolio of strategies to create the new tradable assetsand forms of capital. These have included, among other things, the use of culturalassets as attractors of capital, jobs and people (workers, residents, tourists) and asmarkers of enterprise, local distinctiveness (and attractiveness), upward mobility andso on (Evans &amp; Foord, 2003). Commentators have highlighted the rise and rise ofthis culture-led regeneration, and have provided detailed studies of its many manifes-tations (Miles &amp; Paddison, 2005). These include using cultural assets to attract newbusinesses and workers, particularly those associated with growth sectors such as thecreative class (Florida, 2002); the conversion of disused industrial infrastructure intoheritage attractions (Dicks, 2003); packaging the city as cosmopolitan or multiculturalthrough theming or events programming which emphasises diversity (Smith, 2003);the promotion of city-centre living, the 24-hour city, the night-time economy and thecity as a site of pleasure and leisure (Bassett, Smith, Banks, &amp; OConnor, 2005;Hughes, 1999); and the use of sports events and activities as tools for place promotion,tourism and civic renewal (Gratton &amp; Henry, 2001; Silk &amp; Amis, 2005). Importantly,as Hughes (1999) notes, the reorientation of the local state meant admitting the inclu-sion of pleasure as a formal objective of public sector intervention (p. 123). Oftenthese various activities are densely intertwined, as urban managers seek to add value,for example by combining a major sporting event with arts programming, in the hopeof attracting a broader range of visitors, greater media attention and larger pots ofmoney (Garcia, 2004).</p><p>Culture, viewed here in a very broad (and often poorly defined) sense, has beenincreasingly enrolled in the work of entrepreneurial governance. In fact, current UKcultural policy places heavy emphasis on the many uses of culture to help achieve broadgovernment objectives, such as economic regeneration, social inclusion, communitycohesion, health improvement and so on (Stevenson, 2004). The transformation of theurban policy landscape has meant a shift from welfarist leisure policy towards themore entrepreneurial thrust of cultural policy, manifest in the UK by the formulationof all-encompassing local cultural strategies, which aimed both to make the case forcultures role in urban change and to make connections between the arts, leisure,tourism and heritage, creative industries and all other tradable cultural assets (Gilmore,2004). This reshaping of the policy landscape has ushered in new exclusions, it hasbeen argued, as culture becomes more of a tool in economic development than a sharedsocial resource. While this instrumental view of cultures uses or usefulness has beenchallenged, the prevailing trend in culture-led (social and economic) regeneration isstronger than ever. In part, this reflects the success of the UK cultural sector in makinga case for its usefulness and its contributions to these agendas (Selwood, 2001); it alsoreflects the broader entrepreneurialisation of culture which is itself a result of restruc-turing of funding and management in the cultural sector and the commercialisation ofleisure (Hill, 2002).</p><p>There are recognisable fads and fashions in entrepreneurial governance, as citymanagers seek to replicate (perceived) successes elsewhere, until the unique sellingpoint (USP) is past its sell-by date, and then a new fad comes into being. For a while,</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Wes</p><p>tern</p><p> Ken</p><p>tuck</p><p>y U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 17:</p><p>39 2</p><p>8 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>6 D. Bell</p><p>seemingly all UK cities (and some towns and rural places) were enthusiasticallyincubating their creatives (Oakley, 2004) or quartering their cities to package andtheme different neighbourhoods, such as gay villages or Chinatowns (Bell &amp; Jayne,2004). Certain key motifs of urban regeneration and city branding have beenendlessly reproduced, such as gentrified waterfronts, industrial heritage museums,cultural festivals of one sort or another and so on. Iconic architecture, hallmarkevents, spectacles and attractions have all been heralded as magic solutions to theeconomic and social troubles of cities. Some of these solutions have become institu-tionalised, enshrined in competitions such as European Capital of Culture, and thereis now a heightened sense of national and international competitiveness as cities bidto win such high-profile cultural attractions (Richards, 2000). Setting aside the trou-blesome issue of assessing whether these strategies genuinely yield positive outcomesand lasting impacts (Evans, 2005), there is still a clamour to find or invent the next bigthing in terms of culture. It seems that in the UK, that next big thing is ice rinks.Before considering ice rinks and skating in detail, I want first to contextualise theirpopularity in terms of the festivalisation of the winter holiday, Christmas and NewYear festivities.</p><p>Festive festivals</p><p>The winter holiday season, which in the UK centres on Christmas and New Year, haslong been the focus of celebrations of both religious and secul...</p></li></ul>

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