Economic Development

What began as a sort of arts-driven guerilla marketing campaign for the fictional return of a historic streetcar in the border communities of El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, ended in an artist getting elected to government office and demonstrating of the power of art to capture the imagination of a community. Sometimes you just have to help people see what's possible, before they can believe in it. Unlike San Diego, CA and Tijuana, Mexico, which are separated by 20 miles, El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico sit immediately adjacent to one another, separated only by the width of the Rio Grande River and the international border between the United States and Mexico. For generations, residents on both sides of the border have crossed frequently for work, school, recreation, and to visit family; more than 80 percent of El Pasoans identify as Latinx.
Kara Elliott-Ortega is the Director of Planning & Policy at the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. We caught up with her to find about the groundbreaking intersection of arts and culture with the built environment and community development in Boston. "The Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture used to be part of another office, the Mayor’s Office of Tourism and Special Events. Mayor Walsh ran on a platform that included supporting the arts, and when he started his term four years ago, he created the office of Arts and Culture as its own department and hired a Chief of Arts and Culture, which is the first cabinet-level position for the arts in the City of Boston. The City released its first cultural plan, Boston Creates, and as a city planner by training I worked on that planning effort."
Visual artist Amanda Lovelee is a based in Minneapolis, MN and has just finished her tenure as the City Artist for Public Art Saint Paul. She acts as translator between the city’s ideas and its residents with the goal of building the city everyone wants to live in. As City Artist Amanda has focused on engagement through both her projects Pop Up Meeting, a city popsicle truck and Urban Flower Field, a vacant lot turned gathering space/live science project. As she was leaving her role, she thought it would be nice to write a love letter to the city she has worked with for the last 5 and ½ years.
One of the oldest artist-owned ensemble theaters in the U.S. Double Edge Theatre, are getting ready to transform vacant and underutilized farm buildings on a 100-acre former dairy farm in Ashfield, MA into a vibrant arts campus, which aims to make Ashfield a destination that aggregates creativity, artistic expression, imagination, and culture alongside a rural identity; demonstrating how art is key to economic sustainability.
What roles can artists play in city government? How can artists in residence support arts and culture strategies in the public arena? What do artists need for their municipal engagements to succeed? Artists Elizabeth Hamby, Jules Rochielle Sievert, and Onyedika Chuke joined ArtPlace’s Sarah Calderon for a discussion about what works and what doesn’t—and to what ends—for artists in residence in city agencies, with a focus on New York City.
The water sector needs new solutions and innovative collaborations to drive positive and lasting change in water management. Sharing the conviction that arts and culture strategies have the power to transform the way the nation views, values, and manages water, the US Water Alliance partnered with ArtPlace America to catalogue the best and brightest models and partnerships that are utilizing arts and culture to advance sustainable, integrated and equitable water management into this report, complete with in-depth case studies.
I work at the Appalshop — originally short for “Appalachian Film Workshop.” We were founded in 1969, with funding from the federal War on Poverty and the American Film Institute, as a program to teach young people in the mountains to make films. A few years later, when the government money stopped, some of those young people took it over and re-founded it for themselves. Ever since, it’s been a grassroots multimedia cultural center: a film producer, theater company, radio station, record label, news outlet, youth media training program, deep regional archive and sometimes book and magazine publisher. It’s put the means of cultural production in the hands of local people.
Dierdre Morrison is an Americorps member whose focus is community and economic development through creative industries, at Elsewhere Studios, —an artist-in-residence program in Paonia, Colorado. “Part of what I do here is gather and organize information so that our outreach and grant-seeking activities go farther. I grow partnerships with other area not-for-profits to offer community classes, and highlight the creative endeavors of area craftspeople, food producers, and conservation efforts. I’m also managing a summer (2018) project called INSPIRED: Art at Work —which is designed to advance area dialogue and help shift some of the polarization in our community as we consider our future together.
Earlier this year we were lucky enough to sit in on a webinar run by The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) in collaboration with Art of the Rural. They drew together experts in the field to talk about Creative Placemaking For the Next Generation in rural areas. Together they have created the Next Generation Theory of Change, a national collaboration that engages artists, organizations and communities across the public and private sectors to advance innovative strategies and collaborations in rural creative placemaking.
The mission statement of Coalfield Development is “We believe in developing the potential of Appalachian places and people as they experience challenging moments of economic transition by unlocking people’s creative power to transform perceived problems into opportunities in the communities we call home. We empower people to have faith in themselves to learn and grow. People who have never dreamed of earning a degree walk across the graduation stage with pride and work beside our employees improving our own communities in real, tangible ways, such as rehabilitating dilapidated buildings, repurposing abandoned mine lands, and starting new businesses.”