Blog Posts for local arts network

Thank you to the many people who have been blog contributors to, and readers of ArtsBlog over the years. ArtsBlog has long been a space where we uplifted stories from the field that demonstrated how the arts strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically; where trends and issues and controversies were called out; and advocacy tools were provided to help you make the case for more arts funding and favorable arts policies.

As part of Americans for the Arts’ recent Strategic Realignment Process, we were asked to evaluate our storytelling communications platforms and evolve the way we share content. As a result, we launched the Designing Our Destiny portal to explore new ways of telling stories and sharing information, one that is consistent with our longtime practice of, “No numbers without a story, and no stories without a number.”

As we put our energy into developing this platform and reevaluate our communications strategies, we have put ArtsBlog on hold. That is, you can read past blog posts, but we are not posting new ones. You can look to the Designing Our Destiny portal and our news items feed on the Americans for the Arts website for stories you would have seen in ArtsBlog in the past.

ArtsBlog will remain online through this year as we determine the best way to archive this valuable resource and the knowledge you’ve shared here.

As ever, we are grateful for your participation in ArtsBlog and thank you for your work in advancing the arts. It is important, and you are important for doing it.

Greg Handberg

Formal and Informal Districts

Posted by Greg Handberg, Jul 23, 2013 0 comments

Greg Handberg

Greg Handberg Greg Handberg

Recently I attended the Americans for the Arts preconference on Cultural Districts. Many presented information on tools and incentives that can be used to establish districts, and it got me thinking more about the difference between informal and formal types of districts.

In my work, I travel to a lot of communities assisting them with real estate development projects in the arts. Through this work I have begun to differentiate between "formal" and "informal" arts districts. I now recognize that almost every project I work on takes place within an "informal" district. Very little of my work takes place in "formal" arts districts. What's the difference? I came away from the preconference thinking about "formal" districts as those that are established through some sort of local or state legislation while "informal" districts are established through an organized branding initiative - typically undertaken at a community (sometimes city) level - but without legislation.

Read More

Lori McKinney-Blankenship

Small Town Renaissance

Posted by Lori McKinney-Blankenship, Jul 24, 2013 0 comments

Lori McKinney-Blankenship

Lori McKinney-Blankenship Lori McKinney-Blankenship

Coming from a small town with a population of 7,000, my perspective and experience is quite different from others. The actual county population is 30,000, so the city number is a bit misleading, but still, Princeton, West Virginia is most definitely a small town. Our cultural district is developing in a once abandoned downtown around The RiffRaff Arts Collective, a cooperative group of visual, performing, literary, and healing artists. The concentration of creative activity pouring from our space spilled out and painted the block, and then connected with all the positive pockets of energy and possibility in the downtown. Now, the neighborhood is experiencing a major turnaround complete with government buy-in and major private investment, sparked by something as organic as a few colorful, visionary artists inhabiting a building.

It's no ordinary building, mind you; this reborn turn of the century structure includes an old ballroom turned living room theatre and recording studio, an art gallery, and artists studios. Across the street is Stages Music School, where music is taught to induce joy and change the world. The heavy dose of positive energy is working its way up and down the street, which has been stigmatized for decades.

Read More