It is just over 12 years since the doors of Tate Modern in London were opened. In converting Gilbert Giles Scott’s Bankside Power Station into a museum we planned for two million visitors in the first year but received over five million – a number exceeding our wildest expectations. Year after year the high levels of attendance continues and now we are very much part of the cultural landscape, not only in the UK but across the world. This article explores the development, challenges and successes of what has become known as the Tate Modern ‘project’. While the museum and its collection is undoubtedly at the project’s heart, it also involves a comprehensive strategy to utilise creative organisations and creative thinking in the development, regeneration and reinvention of a key area of a major world city. Central to this model of engaged working are a series of basic challenges:
—how can the various needs of local communities, workers and tourists be balanced when developing an area?
—how can cultural organisations and other businesses work together, and can culture be good for business?
—what is the best way to engage and encourage political leadership and advocacy?
—what is the best way to develop an organisation which not only works within local, national and international contexts but makes connections between them?
—what are the opportunities to bring artists, creative forces and ideas into urban development and the places and spaces in which we live our everyday lives?
It is hoped that this article will help us think about, imagine and practically develop the neighbourhoods and communities that we aspire to create.