The case for art in urban regeneration is widely promoted. Some local authorities and development corporations see it as a means of access to an international cultural map; others see it as enabling the construction of identities for communities. The case remains speculative. The model of post-Enlightenment cities is one of exclusion and confinement, whereby ‘awkward’ aspects of the city, such as the insane or vagrant, are excluded from view and confined in institutions. This compartmentalization of the city extends into policies for single use zoning and a general retreat from public space. If there is a role for art in urban renewal, it is in reclaiming the decorative as an aspect of public space, not in replicating monuments which affirm the dominant, divisive culture.