Creative CityMaking is a project that brings artists and Minneapolis City planners together for year-long collaborations, with the goal of providing both with new tools for working with diverse communities. The project also strives to engage artists in critical thinking and art making around important City and urban issues.
ArtPlace spoke with project partner, Gülgün Kayim, Director of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy for the City of Minneapolis, about gaining political traction in their efforts.
ARTPLACE: Have you gained any political traction in your efforts? If so, with whom and how did you do it? What does this question mean when a project is embedded within a local government body such as the City of Minneapolis?
GULGUN: I could answer it simply by saying ‘yes’ indeed the Creative CityMaking project has allowed me to highlight the work of arts and culture as a function of urban development and not just of livability. We have worked hard to control the messages behind this project to emphasize its partnership with communities, urban planners and developers. We are working with elected officials to help them articulate these messages and push out to the media that this is not the usual ‘art makes things beautiful’ story. This is about how our city’s future will be defined and determined. These messages more than anything else have helped us draw more political support for the work from City department heads, the Mayor’s office and those council members who deeply believe in the power and potential of the creative sector.
ARTPLACE: Has it changed the minds of the skeptics?
GULGUN: I think it’s too early to say. I do know that the stance we have taken makes it easier to bring along those who are skeptical of the real impacts that creativity can make in physical and economic infrastructure.
ARTPLACE: Merriam Webster’s definition of the word "traction" is “the act of drawing: the state of being drawn; also: the force exerted in drawing."
GULGUN: I think the word traction is a good way to describe the process of co-creating the Creative CityMaking project with Intermedia Arts. The administrative work of this hybrid city/non-profit partnership feels like a drawing out of the layers of City politics, beaurocracy, codes and procedures and of the local arts community. As we move forward in our work plan political complexities reveal themselves in our sustainability conversations, project implementation plans and community partnership discussions. In fact I would say that every step of our project has multiple layers of meaning tailored to the needs of both the City and Intermedia Arts.
ARTPLACE: Have you gained other kinds of traction though these efforts?
GULGUN: Yes, we have certainly gained much political traction from within the creative community. Judging by the level of interest demonstrated by the creative community, our project has revealed a thirst from those artists who want to connect meaningfully with the work of city planning. And also from planners to connect and collaborate with other creative thinkers who like, themselves are, eager to meet each other, get down to work, experiment and implement new ideas and approaches to Creative CityMaking.