Artists Underutilized Resources for Community & Economic Revitalization, Research Says
Press release (Sept. 28, 2011) — Artists play an integral role in the economic and cultural revitalization of cities and neighborhoods across the country, according to new research commissioned by Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a national service organization based in New York City that builds infrastructure for artists by investing in the organizations that support them.
Building Community: Making Space for Art is the first in a series of three essays authored by Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, senior research associate and director of the Culture, Creativity and Communities program of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute. Dr. Jackson’s expertise includes neighborhood revitalization, comprehensive community planning and the role of arts and culture in communities. The series’ debut essay features a collection of case studies showcasing communities that successfully integrated artists and art spaces into their revitalization efforts. The essay calls for urban planners, civic councils and community members to actively engage artists as they continue to think through their community development strategies.
“The best communities preserve and strengthen their cultural identities by providing residents with public spaces where they can connect and express themselves creatively,” said LINC Executive Director Judilee Reed. “Artists are instrumental in developing residential and commercial spaces that transcend conventional design and ultimately contribute to civic and economic advancements.”
Citing research showing that cultural vitality is linked to economic growth, the essay highlights several arts organizations and their surrounding communities for effectively partnering to implement sustainable and positive change, including:
- AS220 was an important catalyst in the revitalization of downtown Providence, RI, which contains residential and studio space for artists but also delivers public galleries, performance venues and public education spaces.
- Ashé Cultural Arts Center serves as a hub for New Orleans artists and residents seeking to use art and culture to revive and reclaim the city’s historical Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.
- Artist Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Project is transforming the economically distressed Dorchester Avenue in Chicago’s South Side into a collection of environmentally sustainable buildings.
- Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center converted a liquor store in a San Pablo, CA, strip mall into a traditional Mexican music center for area youth.
- PA’I Foundation works to preserve native Hawaiian culture through dance instruction, practice and performance. The PA’I Arts and Culture Center facility is located in a local shopping center to provide easy access to community members.
For the full essay and a complete list of the organizations profiled, please visit http://www.lincnet.net/sites/all/files/2011_Urban-Institute_Building-Community.pdf.