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Thread: Any arts-focused CDCs out there?

  1. #1
    Aug 2006
    1BR, EIK, needs work

    Any arts-focused CDCs out there?

    Has anyone come across a Community Development Corporation with a mission to support and promote the arts? I know many CDCs have arts-related programming. . .

    My notion is to establish an arts CDC in an area that has an existing arts community that is threatened by massive residential growth on the horizon (that prices them out of the area). The arts organizations and artists need affordable space (live and work) and assistance with business growth issues.

    There is substantial political and private business interest in the arts in this area already, but no vehicle for offering the kinds of support that artists need in a coherent fashion.

    I imagine this arts CDC as a real estate development and economic development entity that would facilitate the use of various government funds to complete projects to benefit the arts. It would also be in a position to broker deals between art non-profits and private developers.

    Referals to any similar organizations would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
    Jun 2005
    NYC area
    Take a look at this:


    They're doing some of the kind of work that you describe.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jmac's avatar
    Nov 2005
    Forks of the Ohio
    You could also check out Artists and Cities in Pittsburgh - they are a nonprofit real estate development organization focusing on affordable housing and workspace for artists.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    As the inimitable Jmac may have guessed - I'm excited to see this topic! I am just completing my MA in Planning and this is what I do right now here in Albuquerque at a community arts center. I see/feel that the movement of combining the arts with community development strategies has been gaining a lot of momentum in recent years and I think there is great potential there for some very exciting work. There are many organizations around the country that come at this from many different angles and I would encourage you to investigate as many as you can muster to gather ideas. Housing is very important for artists, of course. But also is space to work (which may be integrated into housing needs), as well as venues to show or perform work. Then there is the issue of an audience - where do the people live who patronize the arts? What other ways might these artists get involved in community development issues (beautification? youth education?)

    At the Harwood Art Center (http://harwoodartcenter.org) have come at the issue from one particular angle: an arts organization that has increasing become involved in community development work. I head up this component (as of Last summer - though I ran the summer art camp before that) and housing is definitelty a key issue. An organization we often work with, the Sawmill Community Land Trust, has recently completed construction of the Sawmill Lofts, which provides affordable live/work space for artsists. A very exciting development that has increased our artist population considerably.

    Here is their website: http://www.sawmilllofts.org/

    We engage in a number of activities that use the arts (and the high proportion of artsists in our midst) as a catalyst for social change. We are also in an area feeling the march of gentrification and these activities allow local residents (artist or not) to assert their needs and find solutions to endemic problems. The objective is to improve life for existing residents (allowing them to absorb newcomers, but not to be subsumed by them) rather than displacing them. The arts provide a catalyst for many things: finding a voice or forum to articulate social issues and concerns, beautifying and providing a sense of pride in community, creating learning and job opportunities for youth, empowering the traditionally displaced, etc. Over the next year, we will also be working on an oral history initiative that will dovetail with art to produce a book about memory and place (and featuring poetry from throughout the state) and a unique audio tour based on Toronto's very cool "murmur" project (http://murmurtoronto.ca/).

    We run public events (parades and festivals), a youth arts apprenticeship program, after school arts ed. in a local community center, and the establishment of public art/public spaces "nodes." Over the next year and a half, we will also be working on an oral history initiative that will dovetail with art to produce a book about memory and place (featuring poetry from throughout the state and the local folk history of our neigborhood through stories and pictures) and a unique audio tour based on Toronto's very cool "murmur" project (http://murmurtoronto.ca/).

    Arts and community development is an exciting area, I think, which is just now coming to some sense of maturity and professionalism. Personally, I would like to see some sort of networking body develop to link these groups in constructive dialogue. People can mean very different things by "arts and community development" and I have been excited to see how others have approached the issue using ideas I would never have dreamed of.

    Anyway, here are a few more links to places you may find useful. You may notice many of them are in Pittsburgh - they seem to be tuned into the wave of the future:

    The Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia: http://www.villagearts.org/
    The Penn Avenue Arts Initiative (a program of Friendship Development Associates) in Pittsburgh: http://www.pennavenuearts.org/
    The Union Project in Pittsburgh: http://www.unionproject.org/
    Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and the Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh: http://www.acfnewsource.org/art/manchester_guild.html

    Feel free to PM me if you have other q's
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  5. #5
    Aug 2006
    1BR, EIK, needs work
    Fanastic! Thanks for all the leads.

    Wahday--once I peruse the links, I might PM you to ask for more specifics about the organization you work for.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
    Mar 2005
    Thanks Wahday

    I am also trying to figure out if I can be useful to the arts in the future.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Apr 2006
    Promoting synergies...
    If you are looking for a more regional approach check out


    The AIC promotes arts and economic development in Calhoun County Michigan. Calhoun County where Battle Creek is located near where the Stans work.

    There are also many art incubators that help artists with studio space and the business side of art. I found many of them while doing a research paper on business incubation. Check your colleges journal database and you should find them.

    Hope this helps.
    "You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it,..." -Bane

  8. #8
    Sep 2004
    While they aren't really a CDC you might also consdier checking out the http://www.artspaceusa.org/

  9. #9
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
    Nov 2002
    Paris of Appalachia
    Kudos to wahday on the Pittsburgh knowledge! Those are great examples of groups that have successfully tied development to the arts. I'm a big fan of the Union Project and, as a private citizen, have supported what they've been doing out there from the beginning.

    There are many others out there but the biggest around is the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust who has turned around what was once the city's red light district. They still own a lot of downtown real-estate and are one of the major development forces there. Not bad for an arts focused group.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Wildono's avatar
    Aug 2006
    Running with the Proverbial Dark Lord

    Seattle organization

    Take a look at Seattle's 4Culture. I believe they are a CDC.http://www.4culture.org/index.htm

    Good luck!

  11. #11
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
    Dec 2005
    Wishing I were in Asia somewhere!
    Blog entries
    In my new job I am assisting in conducting an arts study for a township in NJ for one of my professors and an outside consultant. This is new territory for me so I am happy to see a thread regarding this here. One model that we have looked at intensively is the Torpedo Factory Arts Center in Virginia.

    I found the site Americans for the Arts to be particularly useful considering they have research, policy, development, and databases regarding the arts in communities.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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