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Thread: Arts districts

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Arts districts

    I am looking for examples of established arts districts in the urban core of very large, preferably older, US cities that were pretty much government-created with a lot of public spending/funding and planning. Can someone point me in the right direction?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    While not a US example, you might want to check out

    http://www.torontoartscape.on.ca/

    While it is a "private" organization, much of its starting capital and how it works is based upon gov't grants and funding, from what I can tell.
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  3. #3
    spokanite's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by schristmas
    I am looking for examples of established arts districts in the urban core of very large, preferably older, US cities that were pretty much government-created with a lot of public spending/funding and planning. Can someone point me in the right direction?
    Government created? Not much of that around here with regards to public spending/funding and (gasp) planning. Here's a link to our CBD arts district plan (scroll down to mid page). The whole plan is there. Funded as a result of the business improvement district ordinance was passed for an area of downtown.

    It may give you some ideas for establishing a district through a private funding effort.

    For the plan go here.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian PlanBoston's avatar
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    Providence, RI has undergone an amazing transformation in the last 15 or so years. They identified the need for a residential componant downtown, and began by attracting artists to live / work spaces. The theory was that artists were typically single, and would not be concerned with the sorry state of inner city schools. Once the artists moved in, young professionals found the city streets safer (think Jane Jacobs).

    Keep in mind, the art community itself did not turn the city around. There was a massive investment in parks, roads, etc. The artists, however, paved the way for others to return to the inner city.

    Check out this link for more info:
    http://www.providenceri.com/ArtCultu...ves-local.html

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Detroit has a University Cultural District that includes schools, libraries, and Art, Science, Historical, African-American, and Children's museum. The Detroit Symphony is also based in the area as well as a giant medical center. Mostly developed by public private partnerships over the last 100 years or so.

    http://www.detroitmidtown.com/

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PlanBoston
    Providence, RI has undergone an amazing transformation in the last 15 or so years. They identified the need for a residential componant downtown, and began by attracting artists to live / work spaces. The theory was that artists were typically single, and would not be concerned with the sorry state of inner city schools. Once the artists moved in, young professionals found the city streets safer (think Jane Jacobs).

    Keep in mind, the art community itself did not turn the city around. There was a massive investment in parks, roads, etc. The artists, however, paved the way for others to return to the inner city.

    Check out this link for more info:
    http://www.providenceri.com/ArtCultu...ves-local.html
    Providence has one of the more unusual incentive programs I have seen. Original art purchased in Providence (or just the arts district?) is not subject to sales taxes. This provides an incentive to buyers to shop there, and to dealers to locate their galleries there.

    On the whole, I do not think it is possible for a government to create an arts district. Artists and governments typically clash more often than work together. The best that government can do is to help create conditions in which an existing arts community can flourish. Relaxing regulatory controls is a part of the solution. Artists need to express themselves. They need to be able to have a kiln in a residential district. They need to find cheap living and studio space in an old building. With these and similar needs, governments typically get in the way.

    Governments usually try to create arts districts with huge investments in civic centers, performing arts centers, convention centers, and the like. These are the sorts of things most artists will almost never use, and they create the kinds of sterile environments where they will not want to live. Look for the funky artist's enclaves that have grown organically. Study them to determine why they formed. Then craftthe similar conditions in the right target areas for new ones to form.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian plankton's avatar
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    Check out Portland's Alberta Arts District. Don't know about govt. subsidies but I imagine the City of Portland has been supportive.......http://www.artonalberta.org/

  8. #8
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    art

    Quote Originally posted by schristmas
    I am looking for examples of established arts districts in the urban core of very large, preferably older, US cities that were pretty much government-created with a lot of public spending/funding and planning. Can someone point me in the right direction?
    I would take a look at St. Louis' Grand Center and also the arts center in Salt Lake City.

  9. #9
    I believe Boston encouraged artist live/work spaces recently. Its not a district but it does give you an idea of the incentives that the city gave to make these spaces affordable. Baker Chocolate Factory is one that i know of. I dont know the details but a developer bought the property and one of the buildigngs was used as live/work space. Included in the space was a community room that because there was city funding needed to be open to the public a certain amount of times per year. They would use it for gallery showings.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian SideshowBob's avatar
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    I'd be curious to hear about how cities helped to create Arts Districts, not through funding, but through relaxed zoning (Like Cardinal's statement about having a kiln in a residential district).
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  11. #11
    Member CosmicMojo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Providence has one of the more unusual incentive programs I have seen. Original art purchased in Providence (or just the arts district?) is not subject to sales taxes. This provides an incentive to buyers to shop there, and to dealers to locate their galleries there.

    On the whole, I do not think it is possible for a government to create an arts district. Artists and governments typically clash more often than work together. The best that government can do is to help create conditions in which an existing arts community can flourish. Relaxing regulatory controls is a part of the solution. Artists need to express themselves. They need to be able to have a kiln in a residential district. They need to find cheap living and studio space in an old building. With these and similar needs, governments typically get in the way.

    Governments usually try to create arts districts with huge investments in civic centers, performing arts centers, convention centers, and the like. These are the sorts of things most artists will almost never use, and they create the kinds of sterile environments where they will not want to live. Look for the funky artist's enclaves that have grown organically. Study them to determine why they formed. Then craftthe similar conditions in the right target areas for new ones to form.
    Excellent points. Generally artists settle in areas with big spaces for studios and cheap rent. That means old warehouse districts often. The artists bring the funky aura that attracts the hipsters. Governments and organizations look at successful areas and try to replicate it, but that is almost impossible. It is a very organic evolution. But as Card says, easing regulations to allow live/work, home studios, light industrial (like kiln, foundry, welding) uses in residential, small retail shops.

    and Card is right to distinguish between where artists choose to live and work and the "entertainment" districts governments create. The entertainment districts take a lot of money to create, offer traditional arts primarily (what Florida calls SOB--symphony, Opera, Ballet), and are not used on a regular basis every night. They're destination entertainment zones rather than cool residentail/gallery/studio districts.

    A govn't or nonprofit could buy an old warehouse and rent it to artists to attract them to the area, there are cases like that. Torpedo factory in Alexandria, etc.

    (cardinal, I wrote most of this and then read your's and had to add 'what Card said' to my comments, since we see this so similarly. cool.)

  12. #12
    Quote Originally posted by PlanBoston
    Providence, RI has undergone an amazing transformation in the last 15 or so years. They identified the need for a residential componant downtown, and began by attracting artists to live / work spaces. The theory was that artists were typically single, and would not be concerned with the sorry state of inner city schools. Once the artists moved in, young professionals found the city streets safer (think Jane Jacobs).[/url]
    R.I.S.D. (pronounced Rizdee) has also gotten a great reputation in recent years as a showcase for art as well as a being a great school, I'm sure that helps the art scene in Providence a lot.

    Is it possible though to have an art hub without an art school of some kind, or without a history in the arts?

    Santa Fe for example has no great art school, but has a clear history of influential artists fining a refuge there. I suppose to some degree any urban area will have a art background, it's just a matter of educating people about/promoting it.

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