St. Claude Arts District & Parkette ProgramNew Orleans, LA
To encourage commercial and cultural revitalization along a pivotal corridor in New Orleans, St. Claude Main Street, Inc.’s Arts District & Parkette Program will unify and support the corridor’s creative endeavors and promote its activities through innovative marketing, visual identify and community engagement programs.
Michael T. Martin, the Manager St. Claude Main Street, sat down with us to talk about their ArtPlace grant and answer this month’s question.
ARTPLACE: Is there a new challenge that engaging in creative placemaking presents for you and the artists who work with you? Are there new skills required?
MARTIN: The biggest challenge we have experienced in engaging in creative placemaking projects is translating the language of contemporary urbanism so that it is digestible and clear to those who are not directly involved in the larger urbanist conversation. While the term creative placemaking resonates with many in the planning field, a key part of our project is engaging the cultural community and community at-large on a ground-level. In order for that engagement to be effective, we need to take urbanism out of the university and/or board room and bring it to the street.
In New Orleans, our residents have historically engaged in creative placemaking: second line parades and festivals that transform our urban spaces are regular features of life in New Orleans. Our challenge has been to integrate the language of creative placemaking with existing culture and empower the community to own the language and thus the programs we hope to undertake.
In terms of any new skills required: our cultural community is one of our great assets and in our opinion, a key reason St. Claude Main Street was awarded an ArtPlace grant. The process we’ve developed to decide upon our programming is through an arts advisory board that will accept proposals and make recommendations for which projects to fund. Their ability to develop board procedures and policies, in addition to having deep discussions about issues affecting community, has been inspiring. While a component of our grant is to help the arts community build capacity, we are excited to develop, in tandem with the arts advisory board, programs that can build on their existing skills.
All of that said, we are continuing to build our engagement strategy and we are identifying the already-existing skill sets present in our community. Through deliberate identification, we will be able to most effectively leverage the resources ArtPlace has awarded us. Ultimately, we believe the most exciting part of our programs is to work through these challenges collaboratively with our cultural community and the community at-large to achieve our shared goals together.