The paper explores art and the city beyond the ‘hype’ of large cultural investment, urban creative titles and cultural place branding programmes. It emphasises the importance of exploring the neglected perspective of the role that everyday culture can play in cities, especially in moments of crisis. It investigates Athens and the economic crisis that affected urban life in the last decade to consider the impact this has had on everyday cultural practices, arts institutions and the experience of the city. Drawing on de Certeau’s concept of everyday practice and using the case study of Athens Fringe Festival, we highlight how ordinary artistic practice and everyday creativity in the city can shape new patterns of cultural participation, urban dialogue and, possibly, cultural citizenship, in a moment of crisis. The paper concludes by arguing for the need to re-orient academic scholarship and future research agendas on art and the city towards everyday creative practice, moving beyond conventional city marketing and institutional, cultural regeneration discourses and strategies.