A New “Garden State”

Posted by Kacy O'Brien On April - 17 - 2013
Kacy O'Brien

Kacy O’Brien

“The Garden State” is a schema that conjures certain images: the beautiful Jersey shore, Atlantic City, traffic on I-95, traffic on the Parkway, traffic on I-287…the Jersey Devil.

Wouldn’t it be great if Jersey could rejuvenate “The Garden State” motto to conjure a thriving ecology where industry, culture, and community exist in support of each other, like vines twining to reach the sun?

There are three things happening in New Jersey that excite me. All have to do with cross-sector partnerships, creativity, and innovation; all are bettering New Jersey’s communities and positioning our state to take a step forward in redefining itself.

ONE: The Gandhi Garden

Nine months ago, East Hanover Street in Trenton was equal parts boarded up buildings, vacant lots, low-income housing…and artist office/work space.

We’ve all heard that story; many of us, including me, are living it. The story we may not all know is the rapid transformation and strategic development that a cross-sector partnership can bring about, like the one forged between the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA), a destination marketing/economic development organization and the SAGE Coalition, an urban beautification NFP made up of a diverse group of Trenton-based visual and performing artists, musicians, teachers, and fabricators.  Read the rest of this entry »

Stephanie Smith

Last week, we packed out a partially restored 1930s single-screen movie house in our town’s up-and-coming downtown area. How did we do it? Three simple words: Arts Mean Business.

We, being East End Arts, a nonprofit community arts organization out in eastern Long Island, operating a School of the Arts, an art gallery, and presenting a variety of events and programs to promote the arts year-round.

“Arts Mean Business” was a forum that we presented for the region’s arts and business leaders: we invited business owners, artists, local government, arts organizations, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and community members to the seminar with keynote presentation and panel discussion by notable arts and business leaders demonstrating the value of partnering with the arts to strengthen the economic vitality of Long Island.

We weren’t so sure how the community would respond to this sort of forum, but the immediate responses to our first marketing efforts proved that it would be a successful venture and indeed it was.

“Arts Mean Business” completely sold out—we were thrilled to learn that our local community wanted to know what we had to say about a very important topic: partnership between the arts and business communities of all shapes and sizes.

The group of 150 attendees represented a great sample of the people we were hoping to reach. It was really a 50/50 crowd of arts people and business people, with a few government officials in the mix.

We are so grateful that our friends at the Suffolk Theater agreed to host us in their space. The 1930s art deco-style theater has been closed since the 1980s, but is in the process of being restored with the goal to open by the end of 2012.

Guests were excited to see the majestic and historic space and meeting there really spoke to the creative process—and the endless possibilities for the future of our downtown area on the rise, and for the economic strength of all of Long Island.  Read the rest of this entry »

Los Angeles: Collaboration Creates Cultural Redevelopment Project

Posted by Olga Garay-English On July - 11 - 2012

Olga Garay

With a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative received in 2009, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA/LA) launched the planning stages for the “Broadway Arts Center” (BAC).

Envisioned as a mixed-use affordable artists’ housing, performance/exhibition space, educational facility, and creative commercial center, and located in the Historic Broadway Theater District in downtown Los Angeles, the birthplace of vaudeville and cinema in the city, the BAC has been embraced by city government and the arts community alike.

In spite of its rich history and tremendous future potential, Broadway is currently viewed as not meeting its potential in a number of different ways. Broadway bustles during the day, but merchants are struggling with a 15–20 percent ground floor vacancy rate. This ground floor struggle is made worse when viewed in the context of more than a million square feet of vacant space in the upper floors along Broadway.

And while some theatres have been reactivated, most of the glorious historic theaters do not offer regular entertainment programming, and Broadway doesn’t serve the needs of the diverse downtown community—especially at night. DCA/LA strongly believes that this situation will quickly turn around when a cadre of artists, professors, and college students, living and working in the area, make Downtown their home.

Led by DCA/LA, the core project team includes the City Planning Department’s Urban Design Studio and Bringing Back Broadway, a 10-year initiative to revitalize the historic Broadway corridor.

Nonprofit partners include The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, a service organization dedicated to creating affordable housing for performing arts professionals; Artspace, the country’s premier organization dedicated to developing affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations; Local Initiative Support Corporation, an organization dedicated to helping nonprofit community development organizations transform neighborhoods; and the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts), an award-winning higher education institution dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Michael DeLong

Michael DeLong

With topics such as creative placemaking taking center stage in discussions around the arts, the question of how artists engage as citizens offers a dynamic opportunity for exploration.

On April 24, 2012, Emerging Arts Professionals/San Francisco Bay Area (EAP) convened a panel in San Francisco at Intersection for the Arts around the topic of artistic citizenship. Joining the panel were a healthy mix of artists, curators, teachers, architects, and administrators that included Julio Cesar Morales, Jennifer Parker, Randy Rollison, and Lizzie Wallack, with moderator Sanjit Sethi.

Born out of a series of discussions by EAP’s Public Programs fellowship, the event tackled a range of questions related to the role of the artist in the community.

You can listen to the audio recording (courtesy of Stacy Bond) below and read on for highlights:

Invoking the Public

The engaged crowd warmed up with small group discussions, covering a number of key inquiries. Creative problem-solving and knowledge-sharing featured among these sessions, although pointed questions also sparked healthy debate. Read the rest of this entry »

A “New Kind of Future” for the Bronx

Posted by Nancy Biberman On April - 3 - 2012

Nancy Biberman

Last month, The New York Times documented an incredible group of local artists coming together to turn a rundown (but not forgotten) Bronx building into a work of art.

The canvas was the Andrew Freedman Home, which originally opened in 1924 as a home for New York’s high society elders who had fallen on tough times in their senior years.

Decades later, when the building itself was in economic turmoil, it was saved by a community group and used for services, but “much of the rest of the vast building has been kept sealed off like a tomb, a time capsule monument to the Bronx’s grand past, awaiting a new kind of future.”

Much of the Bronx is on the threshold of this “new kind of future.”

In spite of being dealt a nearly impossible hand when the city systematically disinvested in the borough in the 1970s, the Bronx survived, and in many ways, flourished.

A haven for new immigrant populations since the early 1900s, the Bronx became a melting pot where music and culture were shared. Its diverse neighborhoods fostered both the passing on of traditions and musical mash-ups. Read the rest of this entry »

Robb Hankins

In downtown Canton, OH, through an ongoing partnership with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (and its Special Improvement District), we’ve spent the last five years creating the Canton Arts District.

The results have been totally amazing and changed everyone’s thinking about this downtown coming back.

In 2005, we started with three strategies: live music, galleries/artist studios, and public art. We had only one art gallery—-and not a single artist studio.

Today, the Canton Arts District has 26 galleries and studios.

The first art studios opened when local developer Mike King bought an old building down on 4th Street NW, deciding to convert it into Studio 5. It would have five artist studios downstairs and five independent artist apartments upstairs. ArtsinStark partnered with King on spreading the word and providing a small rent subsidy for the first year.

By the time Studio 5 opened every unit was rented out and there were eight artists on the list hoping for another building. Here’s a video of how Studio 5 looked when it was just opening

As the Canton Arts District began to take shape we needed a way to let people know, so we decided to host a monthly party—-First Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

Understanding Our Collective Sense of Place

Posted by Liesel Fenner On November - 8 - 2011

Liesel Fenner

Modernist plazas. Those large vast expanses of concrete often in the heart of a city’s downtown, perhaps lined with an allée of trees, a modernist sculpture, and a water feature.

I have fond memories of spaces like these – running as a child as fast as I could from one end to the other then looking up at skyscrapers that seemed to touch the sky. Wind, air, city smells, all combined to inform of my earliest aesthetic preferences and my professional career in landscape architecture and public art.

Many examples of these plazas include: Boston City Hall, the Christian Science Church in Boston, and Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco are significant places designed by some of the twentieth-century’s most outstanding designers – Hideo Sasaki and Lawrence Halprin to name a few.

Place is personal. Understanding what informed our earliest memories of spaces helps us understand our preferences in creating new places in conversation with community – people who have all had different life experiences and ideas of what define place. Read the rest of this entry »