The Chicago Avenue Arts DistrictMinneapolis, MN
ArtPlace caught up with Mike Hoyt, the Pillsbury House + Theater’s Creative Community Liaison about their unique experience of the Creative Placemaking Summit.
ARTPLACE: Where does this movement go next? What ideas did you gain or lessons did you learn that you plan to apply to your initiative? What did you share about your initiative that was surprising to you or to other participants? What new opportunities for your initiative did you identify from conversations with other creative placemakers?
Hoyt: Our “Ah ha” moment was when Dennis Scholl- of the knight foundation – spoke about the Soul of the Community study. He referenced “attachment” as a key or important metric for communities. This was a significant discovery as we have struggled to find language that best fit our evaluation strategy or that matched the core vision of what we are hoping to do with our ArtPlace initiative. Measuring attachment of our very specific constituency of residents and artists is essential to understanding the desired impacts of our work.
It became clear that our initiative was positioned somewhat differently from many of the ArtPlace funded projects around the country. We realized that ours is derived from a people/relationship focus and that many of the dialogues and established approaches were from a developer/CDC driven focus.
We realized that because our project is situated in a community service organization in partnership with local stakeholders, that we have a heightened accountability to our constituents. We literally come in contact with 24,000 people annually through our centers day to day activities. We have an established relationship with our immediate community that exists before, during, and long after our ArtPlace activities are completed. Whether we make brilliant art or a complete mess, we will remain here and have to answer for this work.
The discussion about “displacement” has been part of our process from well before the ArtPlace funds were even part of the equation. They are inherent in the ongoing neighborhood dialogue. One of our lead off projects was to work through our Pillsbury House Theatre’s award-winning Breaking Ice company takes on race, class, and economics in this entertaining and thought-provoking live performance. The 45 minute production included the topics;
> How are our neighborhoods responding to development and change?
> How do we respond to culture clash and conflict?
> How can neighborhoods evolve in economically stable and sustainable ways?
We invited the audience to join us for the show and participate in a short, facilitated discussion afterward as we confronted these questions in an effort to strengthen the ties that bind neighbors together.
Recognizing that we don’t have the interests of developers in our inner circle or leadership team forces us to ask what our role is in engaging developers in the work we are doing? What is their role, our role, relationship to one another, and responsibilities to each other’s interests? As naturally occurring cultural districts are developed, and people profit from this phenomenon, how do we effect policy/establish codes of conduct that builds equity for the artists that are the drivers (whom often are left with absolutely nothing to show for their work, investments, etc.)? This should be a question posed to developers and policy makers, what is their accountability to the artists and cultural practitioners (past, present, future)?
We are very interested in how we can serve the career development or increase capacity among our neighborhood artists. We created a learning community for the artists, or artist institutes. The artists are empowered to come together, identify and solve problems that they self identify share knowledge-resources-and skill sets. Example: artist driven study groups, workgroups, gentrification reading groups established within the AOC artists community.
And finally, the ArtPlace grant and our Arts on Chicago initiative has brought additional attention and focus to our organization and its renewed vision. Most recently in the form of an excellent Minnesota Public Radio “Art Heroes” story about our centers Co-Directors Faye Price and Noel Raymond.
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