Wynwood - February

In New York City, an entity called Spaceworks is working to develop long-term affordable rehearsal and studio space. This month, Paul Parkhill, Executive Director of Spaceworks, talks to ArtPlace about the Miami Creative Placemaking Summit.

ARTPLACE: What did you share about Spaceworks that was surprising to other participants at the Miami Creative Placemaking Summit?  

Parkhill: Spaceworks represents a prime example of how the public sector and the nonprofit sector can bring together their resources and strengths to make a significant impact on the creative landscape. Many conversations at the ArtPlace Summit focused on the imperative for arts organizations to build stronger relationships with local municipalities, as well as the challenges of doing so. Spaceworks, a nonprofit that was created with support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Artplace, and private foundations, shows that cities can also take proactive steps to initiate creative collaborations.

ARTPLACE: Did you get any new ideas at the summit in Miami? What did you discover in Miami that you plan to bring back to New York?

Parkhill: This was a remarkable group of people with an incredible array of talents. Among the ideas we came back with were:

Strategies for activating sites: Creative Placemaking is not only about building spaces or programs, it’s about infusing those places with life. Many of the projects represented in Miami are incredible examples of how to work directly with artists to activate places.

Balancing the planned and the accidental: Artists are instinctively good at creating interesting places, and too much planning or prescription can at times work against Creative Placemaking. Developers, cities and nonprofits all provide critical resources and skills to facilitate artists, but developing really dynamic creative places also inevitably involves letting artists make their own more improvised impacts on neighborhoods.

Emphasizing the local: All of the projects represented at the summit prioritized the role of community participation and partnerships, but I was struck by how much organizations had to adapt to local particularities.  Building community-based partnerships is already at the core of the Spaceworks model, but the range of examples at the Summit suggested just how complex and place-specific each approach is. From public art in Flint, Michigan to artist-led home rehabilitation in Watts to artist residencies on Northern California farms, I was constantly reminded, to paraphrase Tip O’Neill, that all Creative Placemaking efforts are local.

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