Roosevelt Row Cultural DistrictPhoenix, AZ
Roosevelt Row CDC is a 501(c) 3 non-profit community development corporation established to further the unique cultural character and creative assets of the Roosevelt Row Arts District, to advocate for the continuing presence and role of the arts, particularly individual artists, and small business in the revitalization of the district, and to foster a dense, diverse, walkable and sustainable urban community.
ArtPlace spoke with Roosevelt Row interim director Cindy Dach about the role of partnerships in creative placemaking.
ARTPLACE: Who outside your organization has been key to your ability to move your initiative forward? Are there secrets to good partnerships?
DACH: I would say that the key to a successful partnership is finding the mutual benefit, the win-win-win. What can two collaborators create together that either party wouldn’t be able to accomplish alone? Find that synergy where each partner can pull more out of working together than working alone.
For Roosevelt Row, partnerships are essential. Almost everything we do is accomplished through leverage and partnerships. We are extremely fortunate to have the amazing partners we do. There is a core group of people who see the value in what we are trying to accomplish. In a city of more than 500 square miles of low-density sprawl, the idea of cultivating a place where you can live without a car definitely goes against the grain. Walking or biking is a revolutionary act in an auto-centric city like Phoenix.
ARTPLACE: Who are some of the partners you work with?
DACH: Artists are, of course, among our most important partners and collaborators. They bring the ideas and vision for what this area can be. They see potential where others do not. Realizing that vision is a much more significant challenge that couldn’t be realized without other partnerships. The “brick-by-brick, block-by-block” model of revitalization takes many hands and many minds working together. Working hand-in-hand with the artists are the businesses who have opened in Roosevelt Row. More than seventy of our business owners have come together to form the Roosevelt Row Merchants Association, again working collectively to achieve common goals to improve the area for everyone.
The broader community plays a role as well. We work with HandsOn Greater Phoenix, a volunteer organization that brings corporation employees and other citizens together to work on community improvement projects. HandsOn recently brought over 300 Citi employees to the area to create new murals, temporary public art, median landscaping and picnic table for the A.R.T.S. Market in a four hour period. We also work with numerous City of Phoenix Departments including the Mayor’s Office, City Council, Police, Neighborhood Services, Public Works, Streets and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, among others. We have amazing partners through ASU and with the Phoenix Union Bioscience High School faculty, staff and students.
Our largest and most ambitious partnership yet is the Feast on the Street, a partnership initiated by the ASU Art Museum, Roosevelt Row and artists Clare Patey and Matthew Moore. We will host a free, day-long celebration of food in the desert by transforming First Street, a vehicular environment, into a place for pedestrians, artists and performers to mingle around a half-mile long dining table. The richness of this event comes from the complexly interwoven tapestry of partnerships required to bring it about.
ARTPLACE: How did the “Feast on the Street” come about?
DACH: As with all of our best work, this effort, at its heart, is the vision of an artist. Clare Patey, a London-based artist concerned with climate change, has for the last five years curated “Feast on the Bridge” as part of the Thames Festival in London. ASU Art Museum Senior Curator and Associate Director Heather Sealy Lineberry brought Patey to Arizona to develop an exhibition that will open in February. Patey, after meeting with numerous community groups and artists, sought to work with Matthew Moore, an artist based here and a fourth-generation farmer who still works a family farm in the West Valley.
We are, of course, thrilled, to be part of organizing this event for the first time in the United States.
ARTPLACE: Who are the partners that are involved in the “Feast on the Street”?
DACH: We have a core working group of about a dozen people from organizations including the ASU Art Museum, the ASU College of Public Programs and the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability, Devoured and Local First Arizona and the Phoenix Street Food Coalition. Each of those partners are again individually bringing together another dozen or so partners around the various themes of the Feast that include farmers, chefs, performers, refugees, planners and community leaders and advocates.
We are currently in the early stages of planning for this ambitious event that will take place on April 13, 2013 and we invite everyone to come out and experience it.
Caption: Partnerships in action. Bioscience High School students and community volunteers cultivate and harvest lettuce at the Roosevelt Row gRow House community garden in October. Volunteer days are held every Sunday morning.