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Summit on artists as catalysts for redevelopment

Cleveland hosts a national summit on artists and the role they can play in revitalizing local economies in Rust Belt cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee. The one-day summit on May 14, 2008, From Rust Belt to Artist Belt, is sponsored by the Cleveland-based Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC).

The summit, which will taking place at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, Cleveland State University, is part of Creative Compass, CPAC’s multi-year initiative to increase artists’ access to affordable space and better integrate them into Rust Belt community revitalization efforts. The summit brings together an alliance of community development experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing America ’s post-industrial cities and how to leverage the arts as a community development strategy.

“Post-industrial cities have a range of assets that are particularly appealing to artists. These cities have highly developed arts and cultural sectors, an important feature for artists who often rely on nonprofit arts and culture organizations as a supplementary source of income, as well as an abundance of affordable property and close proximity to major US markets,” said Tom Schorgl, President and CEO, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.  

What’s exciting about this event is that it will bring together under one roof an unprecedented array of the nation’s leading thinkers on Rust Belt revitalization efforts as well as creative economy experts who have experience in artist-oriented community development in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, upstate New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” said Schorgl.

There is mounting evidence that investing in artist space can yield considerable returns. The small town of Paducah, Kentucky, for instance, has attracted more than 70 artists to relocate and purchase live/work space in a formerly blighted neighborhood which is now a lively arts district. Subsequently, the town has seen a $10 million increase in annual tourism expenditures. The Pittsburgh Penn Avenue Arts Initiative (PAAI) has attracted 30 artists to locate in a 12-block stretch of the Friendship and Garfield neighborhoods. Their presence has spurred additional market-rate development in the area. Art projects by PAAI artists have also served more than 500 neighborhood children.


From Rust Belt to Artist Belt is designed to give individuals from artist service organizations, community development corporations, developers, lenders, municipal leaders and realtors throughout the Great Lakes states an opportunity to network with peers facing similar situations. Moreover, they will learn about recent research and hear success stories on artists and their role in community development, gain knowledge of how to finance artist space and discover tools for marketing to artists and engaging them in neighborhood development. Finally, all participants will have an opportunity to weigh in on a regional Rust Belt agenda to advance the efforts of artists and community development professionals.


Experts include:

Mark Barone, Senior Director for Engagement Initiatives, University of Syracuse; Founder, Paducah Artist Relocation Project; Robert Brown, Director, Cleveland City Planning Commission; Pat Cirillo, President, Cypress Research Group; Amy Green Deines, Board President, Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit; Brian Friedman, Executive Director, Northeast Shores Development Corporation; Marc Folk, Executive Director, Arts Commission of Greater Toledo; Matthew Galluzzo, District Manager, Penn Avenue Arts Initiative; Kumani Gantt, Executive Director, Village of Arts & Humanities; Nathan Guequierre, URS Corp., East Side Arts Incubator; Wendy Holmes, Vice President of Consulting and Resource Development, Artspace USA; Barbara Koenen, Director – Chicago Artists Resource, Cultural Planning Division, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; Lillian Kuri, Director of Special Projects, The Cleveland Foundation; Ann Markusen, Director, Project on Regional and Industrial Economics, University of Minnesota; Jeremy Nowak, President & CEO, The Reinvestment Fund (mid-Atlantic cities); Judilee Reed, Executive Director, Leveraging Investments in Creativity; Esther Robinson, Founder, ArtHome; James Rokakis, County Treasurer, Cuyahoga County, OH; Mary Margaret Schoenfeld, Community Development Manager, Americans for the Arts; and Linda Warren, President, Village Capital Corporation.






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