Institute of Place Management 4th International Biennial Conference - overview


Inclusive placemaking  

The fourth in the Institute of Place Management’s (IPM) International Biennial Conference series took place at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, from 7th-8th September 2017. This is the second time the conference has been held in Manchester, adding to previous events in London and Poznan (Poland), and building on experience the IPM has gained through collaboration with other international conferences held in Berlin, Bogota, and Utrecht. 

The primary themes of the previous three IPM conferences - ‘Town Centre Management’, 'The Business of Place', and 'Sustainability, liveability and connectivity'- have acknowledged that the improvement of places draws from multiple disciplines, and the synthesis of this knowledge exists in many guises. By bringing together academics, policy makers, and practitioners working in place management and placemaking, the IPM’s International Biennial Conference aims to facilitate the development of theoretical, practical, and policy insights into making places better. To this end, this year’s conference had ‘Inclusive Placemaking’ as its overarching theme.

Conference tracks

The conference drew together the work of a large number of academics and practitioners who, in one way or another, engage with inclusive placemaking in its many forms. The conference consisted of four major tracks: (1) Inclusive Placemaking, as the overarching theme of the conference; (2) BIDs and Business Networks, to reflect a core of the place management profession; (3) Museums and Anchors, a promising field that opens new opportunities for interdisciplinary work; and (4) Place Marketing and Placemaking, a recurring theme of past IPM conferences, and several special issues of the Journal of Place Management and Development. Each of these tracks was subdivided into several sessions, with the aim to maintain the purpose that the IPM is known for: bringing together practitioners and academics in a broad interdisciplinary and international framework.

Prize winners and speakers

Following a thorough review of the conference abstracts, the academic committee selected a best academic and a best practitioner paper, which were presented at the conference dinner. The best academic paper prize was awarded to Laura Reynolds for her paper Questioning the rhetoric of inclusivity in the co-creation of city brands through Bourdieu's field-capital lens. Whilst the best practitioner paper went to Caroline Kemp for her paper drawing upon the case study of Urban Food Street to study Inclusive practices of solidarity in an era of (suburban) austerity. These were two excellent papers which the committee felt possessed outstanding quality, relevance to the conference theme, and originality.

An inclusive community  

As well as covering a broad thematic range of placemaking subject matters from various perspectives, the range of places discussed within conference presentations was also far reaching. From Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney’s northern beaches, to Sao Paulo, Indianapolis, Johannesburg, Malaysia and Siberia. From Albania, Rhodes, Corfu and Thessaloniki to Amsterdam, Valencia, Ljubljana and Berlin. Plenty of UK examples could also be found in the conference presentations, including Brixton, Birmingham, Buxton, Bath, Bristol, Carlisle, Chipping Norton, London, Liverpool, and Manchester.

Furthermore, the conference was a sell-out with 120 delegates and speakers from 15 countries, comprised of a healthy mix of practitioners, researchers, and policy makers. The interaction between these three interrelated groups was identified as one of the most positive benefits of attending the conference from delegate feedback. The IPM are leading the world in this respect, by creating an inclusive community of practice and scholarship that will change the way places are understood and managed. Indeed, the IPM takes great pride in the interdisciplinarity of its members, who come together – irrespective of their backgrounds - because they are foremost concerned with Place. The conference was very well received, with 96% of delegates (43 of a sample of 45 respondents) 'agreeing' or 'strongly agreeing' that the conference had been worthwhile attending.


A full conference report will feature in Volume 10 Issue 5 of the Journal of Place Management & Development – which IPM members can access for free.

We are now looking ahead to the next Conference, to be held in 2019, and have issued a call to organisations/institutions from around the World to submit expressions of interest if they would like to be considered as our next host – further details can be found here