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Temporiums activate possibility in DC’s neighborhoods

Often times, the potential of a city’s vacant spaces is all in the eye of the beholder.  In Washington, DC, the Office of Planning (OP) sees these sites as opportunities to transform empty spaces into vibrant destinations and animated showcases.  Imagine a vacant lot turned artist village with art installations, storytelling programs, arts education workshops, and code camps for digital arts.  Or imagine an underused storefront turned showcase for the work of local fashion and product designers.

OP calls these transformative acts Arts and Culture Temporiums.  In high-cost cities like the District, Temporiums can be an effective way to match those seeking affordable space with those who have available space.  They have the potential to facilitate collaborations between creative entrepreneurs and property owners and to highlight the long-term creative use opportunities in a place.

OP has targeted four emerging creative neighborhoods for DC’s first Arts and Culture Temporiums.  They are Anacostia, Brookland, Central 14th Street, and Deanwood.    Vacant and underused storefronts and empty lots will be transformed into an artist showcase/village for three-six months.  OP will coordinate this effort closely with its other planning studies, including the Creative DC Action Agenda and current “small area plans” in each neighborhood.

Artists will turn these spaces into multi-dimensional and multipurpose uses (e.g. gallery for visual artists, performing arts space, production space, etc.)   In addition, OP will promote the Arts and Culture Temporiums by leveraging DC area food trucks and pop-up cafés, outdoor concerts by local bands, recreational events, and other special events.

These Arts and Culture Temporiums will build off the success of earlier OP-supported retail-oriented Temporiums. The first Temporium was launched in the summer of 2010 and turned a long-vacant former library kiosk into a pop-up boutique showcasing twenty local designers and a WiFi lounge on the H Street corridor in Northeast Washington.  OP also funded two additional Temporiums in spring 2011 that featured designers and artist exhibition space in vacant storefront spaces in the Mt. Pleasant and Shaw neighborhoods on corridors that house other unique local businesses.  Thousands of visitors came to the three Temporiums, ranging from nearby residents to people from other parts of DC and the region.  Through the ArtPlace grant OP hopes to spread the excitement and energy generated by these Temporiums to other communities, including historic Anacostia.

Look out soon for exciting details on OP’s first Arts and Culture Temporium in Anacostia.  

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