Intersection for the Arts

Funding Received: 2011
San Francisco, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
March 26, 2012

Intersection for the Arts, in collaboration with Forest City Development, is launching a pioneering organization called 5M PlaceWorks. PlaceWorks is exploring new models for the central role that art plays in determining how a large scale private development project – the 5M Project located in downtown San Francisco – can become an inclusive community asset that strengthens our local neighborhoods. PlaceWorks aims to connect the collaborative power of more than 2,000 diverse organizations and individuals linked at the 5M Project with the surrounding neighborhoods through a continuum of public art, events, performances and partnerships that create connections and opportunities for people across traditional barriers and that result in access and economic opportunity.

Intersection's Executive Director, Deborah Cullinan, spoke with ArtPlace about the project:

ARTPLACE: Do you have partners on the project?

CULLINAN: For Intersection, collaboration is central to everything that we do. In fact, it is rare that we do anything without partners. This comes from a core belief that we are better working together – combining diverse skills, resources, and experiences – than we are on our own. With PlaceWorks, we have developed some relatively unusual partnerships that cross sector. Forest City Development is a major family-owned development corporation. The Hearst Corporation is a major media corporation. The Hub Bay Area is an innovative platform and global network for social entrepreneurs. Tech Shop is a state-of-the-art technical workshop where anyone can become a member and build anything that they can dream of. And, we are partnering with several city agencies and more than a dozen community-based organizations in the surrounding community.

ARTPLACE: What is the toughest thing about collaboration?

CULLINAN: I think the biggest challenge and greatest opportunity in this kind of complex collaboration lies in celebrating how we are different, locating our common ground, and articulating a shared vision that brings us all to a better place. Artists, entrepreneurs, technology innovators, makers, developers and planners all together make a decidedly diverse composite. We come from different places, have different priorities, have access to different tools and resources. Even the words we use to describe the same things can be different.

ARTPLACE: What is the most rewarding thing about collaboration?

CULLINAN: Finding shared vision and trust across boundaries is deeply rewarding. It is extraordinary to see artists at the center of complex collaboration – being valued as essential by all of the collaborators. In this kind of partnership, there are endless opportunities to transform ourselves, our organizations, and our communities.

ARTPLACE: What advice would you give to those having trouble making a collaboration work?

CULLINAN: I don’t think we all have to agree on everything, have the same priorities, or even share values. I think we are successful when we keep our eyes on the prize – the shared vision – and we respect each other’s differences.