Thursday, August 30, 2018

National Summit Draws from Wide Area

By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
Community Director
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

   Clara Pinsky plans to travel across the country to learn how others are wrestling with arts and displacement. She is senior program manager with a non-profit arts organization in San Fransisco that works with formerly homeless people. 
   Pinsky will be joining more than 300 people from around the country at the National Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit 
October 5-7 at the University of Maryland, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in College Park, MD. They'll be discussing, sharing and learning how arts and cultural programming improves places. 
    "I'm really excited that one of the themes is displacement and gentrification," Pinsky said. Her organization, ABD Productions, works with low-income residents to create performance and visual art. San Fransisco is famously a high-cost-of-living city and home to some of the world's tech giants. It is also home to desperate poverty, Pinsky said. "We have this really stark wealth disparity happening," she said. 
     ABD's signature program, Skywatchers, which is in the second year of an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, produces art through and by residents. "We work with community organizers. We're the artists in the room as they strategize to fight back against gentrification," Pinsky said.  
     The summit is attracting a mix of people from various fields. As one might expect, representatives from at least a dozen arts organizations will bring their creative spirit. Arts funders from the NEA, ArtPlace America and the Levitt Foundation, will also be on hand. Representatives from the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in California will not only attend, but instruct a session on creative placemaking and law enforcement. The National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations will represent along with people from Grantmakers in Health. 
      An employee of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which champions civil rights by facilitating dialogue in Alabama, will attend the summit along with representatives from the Local Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation. The Edgecombe Group, Inc., an architectural, preservation and urban planning firm based in Maryland will also be present. 
       Americans for the Arts is a partner with co-producers, ArtPlace America and the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. Patricia Walsh, Public Art and Civic Design Program Manager for Americans for the Arts, said that studies show that 72 percent of Americans understand that the arts have the power to unify across race, age and ethnicity. "Communities across the country gain, and in some cases regain, connectivity and attachment to each other and their spaces when the arts are a part of community development," she wrote.
       Employees at the following arts organizations will be at the summit: St. Louis ArtWorks, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, the William King Museum of Art, the Washington County Arts Council, the Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, the Coleman Center for the Arts, Public Art Reston, the Caroline County Council of Arts, Inc., the Appalachian Artisan Center, the Cultural Planning Group, GoodSpace Murals and ArtsRevive. 
       Participants are coming from many states. People from nearby states, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, will be joined by folks from Arizona, Nevada, New York State, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, West Virginia, Michigan, Alabama.      


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Certificate in Creative Placemaking Program is Bigger and More Diverse than Ever

By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
     Communications Manager
     The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking

     A dancer, a realtor, an architect, a planner and an theater director walk into a room. It's not a joke. People in these professions will gather in a classroom as part of this year's incoming class of the Certificate in Creative Placemaking program. They hail from 11 states and represent most regions of the country. They are recent college graduates, mid-career professionals and seasoned experts.
    "There's a palpable energy and excitement," said Chris Archer, who co-produces the program for the New Hampshire Institute of Art in collaboration with The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking. "We again are seeing a wide range of professional sectors being represented. This year's group seems to really understand that creative placemaking is not just a trendy term from Wikipedia. It's a craft and a craft that needs to be learned."
     Archer is Associate Dean of Community Education at NHIA. This is the second year of the partnership between NHIA and NCCP. The certificate program was created by NCCP Executive Director, Leonardo Vazquez, PP, and was offered before by Rutgers University and Ohio State University.
     The program is designed for busy people. Students begin with three days of hands-on workshops in New Hampshire. That portion is followed by online instruction and coaching and culminates in the production of a capstone project by each student, a real-world application of creative placemaking strategies.  
      Students will arrive at NHIA in September from Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Wisconsin, West Virginia, California, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia. Their job titles include the following: director of dance at a state university; executive and artistic director of a theater company;  a senior planner of a mid-sized city; a destination branding consultant; a project coordinator of a large metropolitan transit authority; and a studio artist. 
      The New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority is providing five scholarships for New Hampshire residents this year. "We have seen first-hand that integrating arts and culture in our communities can be transformational," wrote Executive Director, Katy Easterly Martey. "We are excited to host a new and impressive class of fellows and look forward to seeing how the program enables them to lead inspiring work that will make a difference in New Hampshire." 
      In fact, many of the students are being sponsored by their employers; municipalities and other organizations, said Archer. "It's impressive to see that these organizations see this as an investment," Archer said.
     This year's class is almost twice as large as last year's class of 14. That cohort included
John Sullivan, a Montclair, NJ resident, high school science teacher, and vice president of Bike and Walk Montclair. Sullivan's capstone project will change the character of Montclair's bustling downtown, when two parklets will temporarily replace parking spaces and serve as a spot to gather, perform, and make art until the cooler weather arrives. He wrote in his final paper that he valued what he learned about group facilitation, communication and dynamic and community-driven process. 
      "It was the skills I learned ... that are most directly responsible for me being able to take my tactical urbanism work to the next level!" wrote Sullivan.
      Five seats remain in the program as of this writing.