Tom Borrup

Tom Borrup

I’ve had many great opportunities to witness how different communities organize themselves through, around, or into arts and cultural districts. In September, 2014, I had the pleasure of visiting a community in Marseille (800,000 population) in the south of France, a cluster of 8 small neighborhoods that formed a fascinating and alluring heritage and creative district with an approach I hadn’t seen in the United States.

Marseille was motivated by the opportunity to serve as European Capital of Culture for 2013, an effort that brought together players across government, creative, and business sectors to build working relationships like they never had before. The now 30-year-old Capital of Culture program rotates through the nations of the EU selecting cities to show off their distinctive creative and cultural assets. A total of 75 municipal entities in the Provence region (1.8 million population) – an area with no history of regional planning and little cooperation – demonstrated unprecedented unity and cultural vitality for their year in the European spotlight. It was branded Marseille-Provence 2013 or MP2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Meg Salocks

Meg Salocks

If you haven’t heard of it, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, is well worth a visit – no matter how long it takes to get there. If you have heard of it, then you know what I’m talking about.

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Photo Credit: Meg Salocks

Opened in 2000, in a massive factory complex that takes up nearly a third of downtown North Adams, MASS MoCA is a seamless blend of contemporary art, community, and education. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Killoren

Michael Killoren

There are two questions that I frequently hear when asked about arts and cultural districts:  what exactly does it mean to be a cultural district, and how does my community go about designating one?

These are big, complicated questions because there are so many variables! Finding meaningful and helpful answers, analysis, and insight to these questions just got easier, thanks to the National Cultural Districts Exchange, a free online resource.  Now, you can find comprehensive information on the formation of cultural districts — including DIY templates, with sample legislation, and guidelines covering all aspects of district designation – all in one place. Read the rest of this entry »

Randall Rosenbaum

Randall Rosenbaum

Size drives a lot of policy discussions in Rhode Island.  We are, after all, a unit of measure. “That iceberg off the coast of Nova Scotia is about the size of Rhode Island.”  But for Rhode Islanders we take pride in how our small state is an intimate place, and we discuss ways we can use that intimacy to our advantage.

Twenty-plus years ago we were one of the first states in the nation to establish cultural districts in select communities.  These districts had two distinct but complimentary goals: the first was to attract an art-buying (and money-spending) public, and the second was to encourage artists to live and work in areas that would benefit greatly from their presence.  Read the rest of this entry »

Reginald Jones

Reginald Jones

Since the inception of our work at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI), arts and culture taken form in the development of an emerging cultural district, bringing together community members, organizations, and artists to shape both its look and character. Read the rest of this entry »

Gayle KalerCultural districts are the heartbeat of a city. They are the distinctive part that makes your city unique and reveals the character and spirit of your town. They are vital to the sustainability and creativeness of a city, but so often these districts are forgotten and underutilized as a tool for economic growth and viable livability.

As Mayor of Paducah, Kentucky, a city of approximately 25,000, I have seen first-hand how the rejuvenation of a cultural district can have a significant impact on the economic stability and viable livability of an area. Our local government and concerned citizens have invested in, nurtured and supported the growth of our local arts district for many years and we are reaping great rewards from that investment. Paducah has used artist relocation programs, district rejuvenation projects, fiber art attractions, and cultural organization partnerships to create an arts district that is having an impact on both the local economy and the international playing field.  Read the rest of this entry »

James Brooks

James Brooks

You can look at numbers to confirm the role that the arts play in the life of a city – or you can look at real examples, such as Cleveland and Dayton. Certainly the numbers, from research conducted by the Bureau of Economic Analysis describing the economic impacts of the arts, tell a positive story. But what I find more interesting is the model adopted locally that leverages unique local assets to serve local needs.

The Gordon Square Arts District and the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance are both the result of coalitions of stakeholders seeking to enhance community assets. Moreover, they both contribute to building and sustaining a high quality of life in their respective communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Inspiration Lives Here.

Posted by Kerry Adams-Hapner On February - 4 - 20152 COMMENTS
Kerry Hapner

Kerry Hapner

Inspiration: Symphony Silicon Valley’s musicians, instruments in hand, bustling in and out of the beautifully renovated 1927 California Theatre. Crowds lined up to see Opera San Jose’s latest production of Rigoletto. The Subzero art festival, during which the streets are jammed with a mix from Millennials to families to empty nesters – all curious about the art work of creative entrepreneurs and eclectic music performances. Youth mixing new music and producing new multimedia projects at MACLA’s PeaPod Academy. Art loading into the galleries. Anonymous and whimsical artistic expressions of yarn bombed bike racks and light poles. Sidewalk cafes with people dining to see and be seen – and yes, be inspired. This is the daily life of San Jose’s SoFA district. Read the rest of this entry »

Mayor Jim Brainard

Mayor Jim Brainard

As American suburbs developed in the years after World War II, people tended to think of them as little more than places to sleep after a long day working in the big city nearby. They made their homes, educated their kids and went to church in the suburbs. But when it came to experiencing the arts, they were forced to get in their cars and drive into the core of the big city.

In Carmel, Indiana – a suburb north of Indianapolis that has grown to more than 85,000 residents – we chose to do things differently. We thought it was important that our “bedroom suburb” have easy access to the arts. As busy families began to seek other forms of entertainment closer to home, we recognized that they stood the risk of missing out on experiencing the arts telling the story of our country through dance, music, and sculpture. Read the rest of this entry »

Janet Starke

Janet Starke

Creativity. The Creative Worker. Creative Problem-Solvers. The Creative Class, (as coined by Richard Florida), Creativity in the Workplace. A Google search on the word “creativity” elicits 216,000,000 listings. Many of the scholarly articles address the role of creativity in the workplace, the relationship between creativity and cognition, or how to cultivate creativity. Mention creativity, and it’s only a matter of time before the conversation turns to the debate of STEM vs. STEAM. What I have increasingly observed in both articles and conversations on creativity is that some include the arts as an integral component in cultivating creativity, while many others do not. Read the rest of this entry »

J. Kevin McMahon

J. Kevin McMahon

Numerous editorials have covered the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s work in overseeing Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations—turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners.  Founded in 1984, the Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of the 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, which attracts over two million visitors annually. The organization has grown from a $170k budget in 1984 to a $53M budget today.  Most importantly, 90% of the annual budget is allocated to the mission and programs and the organization has maintained a balanced budget year to year.

Below are seven key principles that informed the development of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. Read the rest of this entry »

Neighbors and Strangers

Posted by Caron Atlas On February - 3 - 2015No comments yet
Caron Atlas

Caron Atlas

“We fought poverty, violence and blight, and we made the Southside a better place to live. We are now strangers in our own neighborhood, and it’s painful.”

These words from longtime Brooklyn resident and community leader Evelyn Cruz at a forum about gentrification in Williamsburg have stuck with me for years. I thought of them as we created Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York (NOCD-NY), a citywide alliance of artists, cultural organizations, and community leaders coming together to revitalize New York City from the neighborhood up. And I’m thinking about them now as I write this blog about cultural districts and communities as catalysts of change. How can we make sure that our work does not make people strangers in their own neighborhoods? Read the rest of this entry »

Rebecca Chan

Rebecca Chan

Baltimore’s three cultural districts are each reflections of the distinctive neighborhoods and communities in which they are situated: the Bromo Tower, Highlandtown, and Station North Arts & Entertainment District. An inherently place-based practice, each District operates under a different management structure, producing programming and projects tailored to the strengths and challenges in each District that serve the artists, businesses, and residents in their respective neighborhoods. Read the rest of this entry »

Jessica Ferey

Jessica Ferey

My fascination with cultural districts first started while living in Richmond, Virginia when the city announced the creation of an Arts District within the Broad Street Corridor. As an avid “culture vulture,” I had strolled through many First Fridays Arts Walks and attended a variety of performances at the newly built CenterStage performing arts center. I was thrilled to know the city recognized the potential impact culture could have on this area. Even after leaving Richmond for Washington, D.C. to attend graduate school, I continued to stay updated on the project and would bring it up in conversation whenever I returned to visit. Read the rest of this entry »

John Davis

John Davis

Failure. Unanimous rejection. Back to square one. That was the reaction nearly 15 years ago when I first proposed the idea that the entire town of Lanesboro, Minnesota (pop. 754) could be transformed into an arts campus.

Fast forward to today: Lanesboro is now a national model arts community, tourist community, and agricultural community. A scenic town with a river running through it (great for trout), it boasts a historic main street, a bike trail, and a waterfall on the town’s edge. Read the rest of this entry »