Blog Posts for advancing arts locally

The Cultural District: The Key to a City’s Heart

Posted by Gayle Kaler, Feb 05, 2015 0 comments

Cultural 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.

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Arts Strategies from Cleveland and Dayton

Posted by James Brooks, Feb 05, 2015 0 comments

The Gordon Square Arts District (GSAD), which is located in Cleveland’s Westside neighborhood, has four major goals – to improve the district’s streetscapes, to create additional parking throughout the district, to restore and renovate the Cleveland Public Theatre and the Capitol Theatre, and to build a permanent home for the Near West Theatre inside the district.

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Mayor Jim Brainard on Carmel, Indiana's Arts and Culture District

Posted by Mayor Jim Brainard, Feb 04, 2015 0 comments

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.

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Seven Key Principles for Curating a Cultural District

Posted by J. Kevin McMahon, Feb 04, 2015 0 comments

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.

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Neighbors and Strangers

Posted by Caron Atlas, Feb 03, 2015 0 comments

“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?

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Cultural Districts as Community Connectors

Posted by Rebecca Chan, Feb 03, 2015 0 comments

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.

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