The Tides Institute & Museum of Art's StudioWorks facility in downtown Eastport, Maine undergoing redevelopment as a working studio space combined with artist residency program.

The Tides Institute & Museum of Art's StudioWorks facility in downtown Eastport, Maine undergoing redevelopment as a working studio space combined with artist residency program.

Betting on art as the centerpiece of an economic comeback, Tides Institute & Museum of Art’s Artsipelago will rebrand and connect a number of established efforts as well as develop artist live/work space and studio space to drive arts participation and ultimately talent retention in this rural, multicultural, coastal archipelago.

ArtPlace recently spoke with Hugh French, Director of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art, about their new initiative, Artsipelago, and about his experiences from attending  ArtPlace’s Creative Placemaking Summit this past January in Miami Beach.

ARTPLACE:  What did you think of the Creative Placemaking Summit?

FRENCH: I wasn’t sure what to expect of the Creative Placemaking Summit before I got there. I was concerned that it might be full of self-congratulatory people talking about how great they were and how great creative placemaking was. I was concerned that rural America was going to be swept under the rug and that big cities were going to be the focus of everything. Thankfully, I did not find this to be the case at all at the Summit itself. Instead I found a large number of great, committed people from all over the United States who were involved with incredible and diverse initiatives. I found little of an urban/rural divide and found many of the same interests and challenges with creative placemaking in urban areas to be the same as in rural areas though there might be large differences in scale on many levels. It was good, though, that the Summit did make a conscious effort to connect people from rural America with each other. And it was good to be able to talk to people directing creative placemaking initiatives in rural America.

ARTPLACE:  Where does Creative Placemaking go from here?

FRENCH: There was discussion at the Summitt about the very name of Creative Placemaking. We cannot let the idea of creative placemaking get hung up over a name. Creative Placemaking as a name is a very appropriate and descriptive term, but it does not play out very well in the real world. We need to come up with better language that pleys well in places themselves. The notion that vibrant places are interesting places and attract interesting, creative people to them needs to become more central to our thinking about places. Instead of divided thinking about jobs, business, education, recreation, we need to focus more on connected thinking of vibrant places and all that goes in to making these places.

The Tides Institute & Museum of Art's StudioWorks facility in downtown Eastport, Maine undergoing redevelopment as a working studio space combined with artist residency program.

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