Interest in the role of culture within local economic development strategies has developed significantly both in academic and in policy-making circles since the 1980s. In recent years, one could testify a sort of ‘cultural fever’ among policy-makers and ‘cultural competition’ among cities worldwide. However the benign convergence of culture and economy is no longer an uncontested issue. Economic priorities and impacts prevail, while cultural impacts are often neglected. Urban (re)development based on culture is a composite and complex concept, encompassing economic, environmental, social, cultural and political dimensions. In particular, artists who are initiator and catalyst of the local development process are ‘used’ to trigger the regeneration process and then often forgotten. What is at the end the role of the artists in urban (re)development processes ? Are they only ‘used’ and ‘instrumentalised’ for other means rather then the artistic ones ? Drawing on several re-development projects in four European cities, this paper offers an overview and reflection on these issues.