The Bell School Campus


Funding Received: 2012
New Orleans, LA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
September 20, 2012

In partnership with artists, politicians, neighborhood and philanthropic leaders, Artspace is working to convert the six-building, two-block Bell School campus in the heart of the historic Tremé neighborhood into a vibrant, multi-faceted arts facility. What today is vacant and dilapidated space will be re-animated by artists and creative people as a catalyzing community asset.

ArtPlace talks to Vice President of Asset Management Bill Mague about the challenges of creative placemaking in New Orleans and the skills required to meet those challenges.

ARTPLACE: Is there a new challenge that engaging in creative placemaking presents for you, your organization and the artists who work with you, and are there new skills required to meet those challenges?

BILL: There are a number of challenges, notably that engagement itself is a highly personal and circumstantial effort. It requires many hours on the ground, honoring and respecting the places, energy and initiatives that exist already in each community in which we work. The opportunity is to find the sweet spot—that intersection between "physical place" and "participatory place”—where the local participants in each project are truly able to express and leverage their equity into a whole, catalyzed by THEIR specific energy in THAT specific place. Understanding local ecologies is key, and also key to that understanding are time and patience. But, capital ($) is rarely patient—and effective engagement and the anticipated product take $.