Cabot Circus, Bristol


Cabot Circus is a £520 million mixed-use development of buildings, streets and cityscape on a thirty six acre site in the centre of Bristol. Some fifteen years in planning, the creation of a major new retail and leisure destination to regenerate the dilapidated Broadmead area was achieved by way of a joint venture between Land Securities and Hammerson, called the Bristol Alliance. From 2001 onwards InSite Arts worked with the Alliance on the planning and delivery of an extensive public art programme, involving the commissioning of both temporary and permanent artworks over a period of seven years leading up to Cabot Circus’ opening in Autumn 2008.

With a direct arts investment of £2 million, and influencing around £20 million of the overall development spend, this has been one of the largest and most diverse public art programmes of its kind in Europe. The project highlights the need for early intervention and continuous involvement in the development if the artworks are to be fully embedded in the scheme. It also challenges some of the traditional assumptions about community involvement in public art, showing that artists can imaginatively engage the large workforce on site during the development, in this case a culturally diverse community of local people and workers drawn from around the world.