Author Topic: More about arts as production/arts-based revitalization  (Read 771 times)

Offline rllayman

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More about arts as production/arts-based revitalization
« on: July 23, 2009, 04:46:09 PM »
People may remember the thread that got started:  based on something I wrote about arts, arts districts, cultural production and Artomatic in my blog, which scenicartisan posted here.

That led to a presentation last week at the conference for the assn. Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas--people in the theatre field.  I was on a panel with an architect, George Koch of Artomatic, and Merin Frank of CuDC.  My presentation was an extension of the discussion in the previous thread.

I'd be interested in people's reactions.

Basically I said that we should accept that revitalization is for the most part, about boosting real estate values and that artists have to take primary responsibility for representing their own interests.  I also spoke about a preferred type of "arts district," a "cultural quarter" where cultural production is just as important as cultural consumption.  And I made some recommendations:

- artists need to write their own cultural plans specific to their disciplines
- including a subplan on facilities
- that anchoring institutions that support the development of artists and organizations must be built
- and that the power of the artistic network needs to be strengthened and leveraged.

Sadly, posting it on my own blog has yielded zero interesting comments.

If people have comments, I'd love to hear them.

Richard Layman

Offline Arty4ever

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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2009, 12:17:19 PM »
Washington DC has an active, growing, and successful local arts scene. It used to be more hidden... the art happenings happened but only those who were hip enough to be "in the know" were lucky enough to experience them. However, this is changing thanks to the promotion and marketing of organizations like Artomatic, Art Outlet, The DC Conspiracy, Eighty Eight, the Fringe Festival, and more! Each of these groups (all of which who network here on have contributed to helping DC become more arty.

It hasn't been an easy task. As you point out, in this town there is and will always be a large focus on politics and history. And, there are less abandoned or low cost buildings to utilize then other cities. But these are just obstacles, not dead ends. I think the biggest road block is that artists are (usually) non-conformists and this makes it difficult to channel the diverse and creative energy of the local creative network. It's not that it's not there, it's just that it hasn't been fully realized and organized to it's fullest extent. Organizing artists can be as challenging as herding cats. Especially since (usually) an artist's basic inclination is to reject (or at least question) authority, bend rules and break down bureaucracies not help form them. The real trick is figuring out a way to organize and develop the plans and frameworks needed to reach the big goals. How do you conduct an orchestra and, at the same time, allow each artist to play to their own beat?   

On your blog, you wrote:
If we are to create balanced cultural quarters where new work is created, culture is maintained and developed, and the economy grows by reaping the value of production through the consumption of work in theaters, galleries, concert facilities and other venues, then artists and arts organizations are going to have to step up and better represent their interests in the context of a complicated economic, political, social, and creative environment.

I agree but think that most artists would appreciate help with this. The artist wants to focus on creating.  Complicated economics, politics, etc. not so much. I think the art community has a need for a partner that can be trusted to represent their interests and network with organizations that have other objectives.  After an organization that focuses on neighborhood improvement has utilized the art community to help reinvigorate it's local area what happens next?  Is the art community pushed out or is there continued support?  It would be great to have a facilitator to negotiate deals so that artists are not taken for granted but instead rewarded for their assistance and after the mission is accomplished they are not forgotten.

Michael J. Auger