By Andrea Orlando, MSJ
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.