The Creative Underclass: Youth, Race, and the Gentrifying City (Duke University Press).


I am now scheduling a virtual book tour for spring and fall of 2021. Please check back here for upcoming events.

  • Concordia University, Faculty of Fine Arts (24 March 2021)
  • University of Central London, Critical Childhood Studies Research Group (25 March 2021)
  • Arizona State University, School of Art (20 April 2021)
  • University of Georgia, The Lamar Dodd School of Fine Art (21 April 2021)
  • Social Artist Network (Date TBD)

“This book should officially knock Richard Florida’s a-political, race-blind The Rise of the Creative Class off its throne and into the mud. The Creative Underclass has no ambitions to take over the reins.”

— ReadMore, Good Reads

“For those who are interested in cultural policy and youth programmes, this book is an important awakening for those who uncritically accept the discourse of creativity as a force for good. “[It] destabilises the taken-for-granted assumption about arts activities as ‘positive activities’ through which young people can ‘better themselves’. This book is a timely reminder that youth development programmes do not solve economic problems.”

— Frances Howard, Cultural Sociology

“… important reading for those working with youth, in urban centres and within the context of the “creative industry”. It is a reminder that art is never just art and culture is never neutral. They are tools of power, so mind whose power they serve.”

— Darlene Clover, International Review of Education

“For historians of education this book reminds us of the tensions and contradictions of philanthropic work across the past two centuries. We see the problems of appreciating ‘underground movements’ in arts education and the pressures and conformity that seek to transform creative work into something familiar and readily understood by those with the power and the financial capital.”

— Lottie Hoare, History of Education

“Tyler Denmead offers a far-reaching look into the complexities of creative communities, implicating factors involving labor, economics, race, the arts, education, urban planning, and politics, all while joyfully, lovingly, and thoughtfully describing stories from young peoples’ lives. Denmead describes these multiple perspectives and what young people taught him and his change of perception with humility. His book’s credibility and power are even more compelling because of his capacity to comprehend and critique an institution he himself constructed. I’m in awe of all the intricacies and implications that Denmead has revealed.”

— Rebekah Modrak, author of Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice

“Since the early 2000s we have regarded the creative class as those with the greatest access to capital, technology, and robust economic environments. Tyler Denmead reveals a portion of the creative class that is dynamic and generative and forgotten—low income youth in under-served communities. This is a must-read for reimagining the creative talents of today’s urban youth.”

— Gloria Ladson-Billings, Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin–Madison

About Me





I am the University Lecturer of Arts and Creativity in Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

I was honoured to be selected by the Cambridge University Student Union as the University’s “Best Lecturer” in 2019.

I am a Fellow and Director of Studies in Education at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge.

other scholarship and teaching

"I love you even if you don't think so." (on wall to the right)