Local Arts Agency – What’s in a Name?

Posted by Jennifer Armstrong On December - 6 - 2011
Jennifer Armstrong

Jennifer Armstrong

Local Arts Agency — These three words strung together cause confusion among the general public and within the arts industry.

What is a local arts agency? Even local arts agencies have asked this of me.

I receive inquiries from many discipline-specific organizations who are creating arts locally — aren’t they local arts agencies, they wonder.

Illinois neighborhoods, villages, cities, towns, and regions are coming together and forming what could be considered local arts agencies (LAAs). However, provided with a commonly accepted definition or description, often the leaders in these efforts are reluctant to jump into that ‘box.’

Yet more and more non-LAAs seem to find a connection to LAA issues and want to join our Local Arts Network.

If I have to spend so much time explaining what an LAA is, does that label still fit?

Does it have relevance and resonance? Who falls under that nomenclature today? Is it exclusionary? Is it too wide-ranging?

Do our definitions and parameters still make sense? Does the label mean anything? Read the rest of this entry »

Community-Based & Creative Strategies for Local Waterfront Revitalization

Posted by Anusha Venkataraman On November - 8 - 2011

Anusha Vankataraman

Artists and creative organizations are becoming increasingly more engaged in what is the traditional terrain of urban planners and local politicians—from local neighborhood planning, to revitalization projects, and even real estate development.

Engagement of the creative community in local planning issues not only increases the relevance of and helps to create broader bases of support for artists and arts organizations; it also ensures that the city planning policies enacted are sustainable, responsive to community needs, and perhaps more effective in the long-run.

One area of urban politics and economic development that is being tackled by creative institutions and local artists is waterfront revitalization. Because of the large public and institutional investments needed to accomplish projects of this magnitude, waterfront revitalization has typically been a city government-led effort.

However, in the face of limited public resources, citizens, grassroots organizations, and local institutions are taking the lead in re-imagining how their rivers and waterways can be used. This form of city re-development is more socially and environmentally just, equitably shared, and creatively implemented. Read the rest of this entry »