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Maud Hickey, PhD
Arts Organizations and the Democratization of Space Understanding the influence of physical space and urban design on the success of performing arts organizations
Abstract This study investigates the connection between arts organizations and urban space. The focus is on small and medium-sized organizations, with total annual budgets under $750,000; a small number of organizations with larger budgets have also been studied in order to provide comparison, as well as context for making broader claims about recent trends in cultural policy and urban planning. I have employed the category ‗Performing Arts Organizations‘ to refer to organizations whose primary interest is music or theatre, disciplines which act as the main area of study. Even so, the conclusions made in this study can be applied to other performative disciplines, including musical theatre and opera. The contents of this study can also be applied to digital media arts and visual arts; I have avoided directly studying the visual arts—including public art and various forms of street art—since these disciplines have been studied more completely from an urban studies context since they have a stronger tendency to directly employ the urban environment in subject matter and in performance or in location choice. Fewer researchers have looked directly at performing arts organizations with an urban studies/planning lens. The research that does fall under the urban studies heading tends to focus primarily on geographic location more broadly, thereby neglecting building type and the
immediate built environment. My study focuses primarily on the physical space(s) in which small and medium-sized, non-profit performing arts organizations carry out their day-to-day activities. In most cases, each physical space that was studied functions as a site for performance, education, and administrative initiatives. I was eager to learn how arts organizations found and funded their buildings, why they chose their location and type of space, and how they adapted the space to fit their needs. In addition, I set out to see whether there was a link between building type/physical space and artistic mission/programming. Overview and Methods This study consists of four sections in addition to this introduction: Literature Review, National Prototype Case Study, Chicago Case Study, and Conclusion. The literature review takes into account a large and varied body of publications that offer research in the following fields: urban planning, cultural programming, arts administration, and sociology. There were a number of recurring topics and keywords, including social and cultural capital, community engagement, creative class and creative economy, urban demography, and cultural geography. Only a small amount of the literature considered performance arts organizations strictly from the perspective of building type or physical space. Still, the combined resources in the related fields proved to be immensely useful to this interdisciplinary study, especially in combination with the two case studies. The National Case Study is an analysis of marketing and PR materials, as well as public reports and records, that shows how arts organizations are attempting to appear more open, inviting, and community-involved by ‗marketing‘ the physical space in and around which they carry out their artistic and administrative endeavors. This section is not restricted to Chicago, but
rather seeks to highlight ‗prototype‘ organizations of varying sizes throughout the country that are making a concerted to effort to mesh their mission and programming with their physical space and built surroundings. In this section I also bring attention to a recent Request for Proposals from the National Endowment of Arts as an example of how, in light of decreased government funding for the arts and a renewed interest in urbanism, cultural and urban policy are becoming increasingly aligned. Though the National Case Study is partially limited by an absence of site visits and a lack of first-hand interviews, it acts as a snapshot of an emergent trend in the non-profit performance arts sector and provides a set of prototype examples that are alluded to by artists and administrators in the interviews carried out as part of the Chicago Case Study. The Chicago Case Study is the end product of a series of interviews and site visits to small and medium-sized arts organization in Chicago from September 2009 to July 2010. The interviews afforded me the opportunity to ask specific questions about the organization and its use of urban space, while the site visits offered me a glimpse of how each physical space was being used and where it was specifically located. The interviews provided evidence that building type and physical space are immensely important to an organization‘s ability to compete in the creative economy and contribute to the urban community. The combined information gained from both case studies helped me to develop a ‗Typology of Space‘. This typology functions as the starting point for a much-needed, detailed catalog of building types utilized by small and medium-sized arts organizations. This information will be useful for performance artists and start-up organizations in their efforts to find a suitable ‗home‘ for their artistic pursuits, and will help communities to view abandoned buildings and vacant lots as a potential asset to cultural development. The Typology of Space
leads into my concluding section in which I attempt to synthesize the insight gained from my study of physical space with other studies that have focused more broadly on the influence of arts organizations on cities and communities. Literature Review Distinguishing Between Three Paradigms: Creative Economy, Community-Building, Cultural Geography The discussion of performance arts organizations in connection with urban development tends to fall into one of three paradigms. These paradigms, which are each described in more detail below, are referred to throughout this study as 1) Creative Economy, 2) CommunityBuilding, and 3) Economic Geography. Creative Economy In order to make a case for incorporating the non-profit arts into the urban economy, researchers have focused on the economic value of the arts and creative industries, suggesting that they can generate jobs and boost tax revenue, thereby creating a trickle-down effect for all citizens.1 Richard Florida has thoroughly explored the creative economy in his widely read book The Rise of the Creative Class. In his book and throughout his growing body of work, he details how and why creativity is now valued more than ever, urging businesses to promote creativity from the bottom-up and encouraging municipalities to provide the kinds of attractions and amenities that can attract and retain the creative class. But, while small and medium-sized performing arts institutions are certainly part of the creative economy, they are only a small
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. 1983. The arts as an industry: Their economic importance to the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. New York: PANYNJ.
contingency in a sector that includes both non-profits and for-profits, in industries ranging from architecture to publishing, academia to advertising.2 Mark Stern and Susan Seifert, researchers with the University of Pennsylvania‘s Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP), have assessed various methods for studying the impact of the arts in society. The creative economy, they write, ―represents the latest wave of interest in culture as a post-industrial urban revitalization strategy.‖3 They point out that one purpose of the economic impact assessment has been to support public subsidies for urban mega-projects built around performing arts or cultural centers, noting that those in support of these projects too often ignore the substitution effect problem, a planning mistake that leads to inflated estimates of projects‘ probable impact.4 By focusing on large-scale urban revitalization plans and construction of mega-arts centers, the creative economy research often gives a secondary role for small and medium-sized arts organizations to play in the urban development process. Furthermore, when wedged into the larger creative economy—one that includes a high number of various non-profit and for-profit industries—other benefits of the non-profit arts sector are often neglected. Community Building Due to the limits of the creative economy paradigm, a growing amount of literature has looked at performance arts institutions from a sociological perspective that emphasizes community building and social work. William Cleveland, along with colleagues at the Center for
Castells, Manuel. 1996. The information age, economy, society, and culture: Volume I, the rise of the network society. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, Inc. Florida, Richard. 2002. The rise of the creative class: And how it’s transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life. New York: Perseus Books. 3 Seifert, Susan C. and Mark J. Stern. 2005. ―From Creative Economy to Creative Society‖ p. 1. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Social Impact of the Arts Project. 4 Ibid
the Study of Art and Community, have written numerous articles as well as important books on artists working in social institutions, including senior citizens‘ centers, mental health facilities, and prisons. Cleveland‘s first book, Art in Other Places, was perhaps the first formal attempt to recognize artists working in unconventional settings, helping to develop a critical mass of likeminded artists and scholars and to define an emerging field that, for the purposes of this study, can be called Community-Based Arts.5 Before Art in Other Places and the related work that has followed, there seemed to be an ―unfortunate assumption that an artist working with ‗those people‘ is doing so because their work is second rate.‖ Cleveland suggests that this point of view, combined with the field‘s transient condition due to economic realities, had the effect of isolating the artists and organizations working in social institutions. Today the field is rich and quickly growing. Books, journals, and conferences have helped create a network of like-minded artists around the world. The assumption that perhaps community-based art, and art that serves a social purpose, is somehow inferior to ‗serious art‘ has been nullified by numerous practitioners who have shown that great art and social change can exist in harmony. Mainstream arts organizations, too, in their desire to reach new and wider audiences, have sought out ways to draw inspiration from the community-based arts: the Los Angeles Philharmonic, inspired by Venezuela‘s El Sistema, has poured resources into a youth orchestra program with the goal of bettering the lives of underserved youth; recently appointed music director of the Chicago Symphony, Ricardo Muti, has vowed to ―bring the music to the people,‖ with one goal of starting classical music education programs in Illinois prisons. It is difficult to quantify many of the social effects of the performance arts, though a number
For a more thorough description of this field, see: Goldbard, Arlene. New creative community: the art of cultural development. USA: New Village Press, 2006.
researchers and organizations are coming up with creative quantifiers.6 Even without universal quantitative methods, anecdotal and qualitative evidence has given traction to the Community Building paradigm and shown that the benefits of small and medium-sized performing arts organizations cannot be conveyed exclusively in economic terms. Cultural Geography The final paradigm marries the previous two, while also calling attention to geographic clustering of artists and arts organizations. It borrows from the Community Building paradigm by showing how arts organizations strengthen social networks, enhance cultural capital, and leverage assets to form meaningful partnerships. It beckons to the Creative Economy camp by showing how arts organizations tend to cluster in certain parts of the city in a manner that is mutually advantageous for arts organizations and the local economy. Stern, Seifert et al. write that the Cultural Geography paradigm ―explores productiondriven cultural clusters and the social networks underpinning productivity.‖7 Researchers at the SIAP have become quite interested in identifying cultural clusters by mapping cultural activity and identifying ―natural cultural districts,‖8neighborhoods that tend to be low-wealth and ethnically diverse. Many of these neighborhoods, the SIAP suggest, ―possess a critical mass of cultural assets—cultural firms and organizations, workers and participants, artists and creative entrepreneurs. As an alternative to top-down planned cultural districts or as a complement to local community development, planners and developers could identify these grassroots nodes as leverage points for public, private, and philanthropic investment. In this model, ‗natural‘ cultural districts would be centers
For more see: Cleveland, William, Goldbard, and Social Impact of the Arts Project
Stern and Seifert Ibid
of social and economic development and serve as neighborhood anchors of the creative economy. 9 By targeting natural cultural districts, and by using what Northwestern University professor John Kretzmann calls ―Asset-Based Community Development,‖ this model offers an alternative to much of the creative economy-led, post-industrial urban development that is so commonly associated with controversies over gentrification. This theory can help inform economic, sociological, and urban planning research on performance arts organizations. In a similar vein, other researchers have focused more on the ―social networks underpinning productivity,‖ the second aspect of the Cultural Geography definition. Chicagobased researchers Diane Grams and Michael Warr have authored a study entitled ―Leveraging Assets: How Small Budget Arts Activities Benefit Neighborhoods.‖ In their study, they demonstrate how ―small budget arts activities play a role in leveraging both local and non-local assets for neighborhood improvement.‖ Their findings show that: · Arts activities leverage assets to benefit local neighborhoods. · Arts activities play a unique role in building social networks in Neighborhoods; they enable access to new resources and they build civic dialogue. · Arts activities provide unique opportunities to build and incubate social capital; social capital helps local areas and organizations within these areas mobilize resources to improve the quality of life. · Broad networks that include people trained in tacit skills of art making, as well as people with connections to the social, political and financial networks of neighborhood environments, enable the ability of arts activities to exist.
Ibid pp. 11-12
· Local differences influence the number and type of arts activities. 10 Grams and Warr show that small arts organizations both strengthen and enlargen social networks; these networks have a meaningful impact on local residents and, by empowering artists and arts organizations, help to form a foundation for the city‘s creative economy.11 The Cultural Geography paradigm seems to most fully explains the role that small and medium sized arts organizations play in urban development. The model offers a tripartite perspective that is informed by economics, sociology, and urban planning. It urges artists to take a pro-active and entrepreneurial role in contributing to the creative economy and advises planners and community development agencies to take a bottom-up approach to cultural development. It recognizes the limits of the Creative Economy model but suggests that by cultivating natural cultural districts and by leveraging assets to help increase cultural capital from the inside out, arts organizations of various sizes can contribute to the local creative economy while helping to improve social conditions for residents. Limitations of Paradigms In this literature review, I have offered three paradigms—Creative Economy, Community Building, and Cultural Geography— for studying small and medium-sized arts institutions in the context of the U.S. city. These paradigms, though not always mutually exclusive, are derived from a growing body of relevant literature that has looked at arts institutions and the creative economy from a contextual, location-based perspective. Researchers have used a variety of parameters in order to operationalize arts institutions in their studies, including operating budget,
Grams, Diane and Michael Warr. 2003. Leveraging assets: How small budget arts activities benefit neighborhoods. Chicago: Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.pp. 1-2
discipline, geographic location, and demography. Building type and built surroundings, however, have often been neglected or given only cursory attention in the relevant literature. The goal of this study is to add the dimension of physical space to our understanding of performance arts organizations within the urban locale. I propose that the success of small and medium sized arts organizations, and perhaps large organizations as well, will be increasingly tied to their ability to find and use physical space in innovative ways so as to better meet the needs of consumers and the realities of available and affordable urban real estate. A number of factors already seem to validate this assertion: 1. Large arts organizations are struggling to fill seats and maintain stability in traditional downtown mega-concert halls. 2. Consumers are increasingly becoming cultural omnivores, seeking out a variety of accessible street-level cultural options.12 3. Changing demographics have increased the demand for diversity in the cultural economy. 4. A renewed interest in urbanism and sustainability has reinvigorated demand for cultural option and ‗third spaces‘ at the neighborhood and at the community level. 13 5. Performers and composers continue to re-think the concert experience by offering new ideas about what and where performance spaces should be. The two case studies that follow will allow me to further investigate my hypothesis by analyzing relevant records and documents and by carrying out first-hand interviews and site visits. In the concluding section I will synthesize my findings with additional published studies in order to
Florida, Richard. Oldenburg,Ray. The Great Good Place. New York: Marlowe and Company, 1989
offer final remarks and to make suggestions for arts organizations and municipalities who wish to create and contribute to a thriving cultural ecosystem. National Prototype Case Study This section looks at the way a variety of arts organizations are ―marketing‖ physical space, incorporating ideas about physical layout, location, and building type into their artistic missions. It identifies organizations that have placed significant importance into physical space and also takes into account organizations that, in efforts to expand by building new spaces, are re-thinking their artistic missions through a ‗physical lens‘. Five organizations are assessed: 1. Street Level Youth Media (Chicago, IL) 2. Zumix (Boston, MA) 3. Community Music Works (Providence, RI) 4. Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago, IL) 5. New World Symphony (Miami, FL) In addition, I look at a Request for Proposals (RFP) from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as an indication of the ways in which cultural policy is blending with urban policy. 1. The NEA‘s Mayor Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative
Beginning with New Deal cultural programs that put artists back to work through public art projects, and continuing later with Arts Extension programs that were intended to extend the educational and cultural resources of universities to the greater community14, public engagement
Goldbard p. 113
and community outreach have become increasingly important to both non-profit and for-profit arts organizations. The artistic and social ethos embodied in the New Deal and Arts Extension programs helped create the community-based arts movement that is at the core of the Community Building paradigm. More recently, larger and so-called ―mainstream‖ arts organizations, including theatre and opera companies, ballets and symphony orchestras, have added entire departments and staffs to handle educational programming and community engagement. While these additions certainly admirable, it has been suggested that, without the necessary training and experience, many mainstream arts organizations have failed to apply the same sort of rigor, and to achieve the same amount of success, in their community outreach programming as they do in their regular programming. Richard Young, esteemed violinist and music education advocate, has suggested that many organizations‘ interest in community endeavors has largely been symbolic and used for PR purposes in order to secure outside funding that, in many cases, does not go back to community programming but instead to the internal needs of financially-struggling arts organizations.15 Despite the pessimistic, and perhaps slightly extreme, tone of the previous comment, arts organizations have begun to drastically increase the quantity, and improve the quality, of outreach programming and educational offerings. Certainly time and experience have helped, but a number of other factors have also expedited improvement, including:
Young, Richard. ―Music Outreach—More Urgent than Ever. Old and New Approaces, Including El Sistema.‖ Speech at 2009 Midwest Clinic.
1. A drastic decline of arts education in public schools since the No Child Left Behind Act (and thus a need for arts organizations to pick up the slack)16 2. Performance arts curriculums in colleges and universities that promote meaningful civic engagement and entrepreneurial artistry 3. Declining audiences and a need to provide more programming diverse and younger populations 4. Success and visibility of arts programs with combined social missions, including El Sistema, Afro-Reggae, and Applied Theatre 5. Increase in the number of performance ensembles that offer adventurous and progressive programming, along with innovative educational programs A number of interconnected factors has led to increases in quantity and quality of arts organization-led community engagement. As a result, organizations have incorporated community-inspired language into their missions and organizational ideologies. I argue that the increase in community-based programming and rhetoric is now manifesting itself into a renewed interest in physical space. Arts organizations are seeing the value in doing more with less; in opening doors, windows and rehearsals to the public; in incorporating parks and green spaces into their surrounding spaces; in using green technology and preserving historic buildings to send a message about sustainability; in restoring abandoned buildings and re-thinking vacant lots; and the list goes on. Innovative uses of physical space can help to significantly reinforce communityfocused rhetoric and can help break down mental barriers that keep the general public from participating in the arts.
Ross, Alex. Listen to This. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.
Mental barriers, that inhibit many people from participating in the performing arts, have been influenced by urban design and cultural policy that has tended to favor lavish, closed-off concerts halls in exclusive parts of the city. What Thomas Surette noted in a 1916 Atlantic Monthly article has continued to inform public perceptions about performing arts organizations both large and small: ―A few rich men think it a part of the life of a great city that there should be an opera house with a fine orchestra, fine scenery, and the greatest singers obtainable. It does not exist for the good of the whole city, but rather for those of plethoric purses. It does not make any attempt to become a sociological force; it does not even dimly see what possibilities it possesses in that direction. Opera houses surround themselves with an exotic atmosphere in which the normal person finds difficulty in breathing…they are too little related to the community.‖17 In his 1998 book Musicking: the meanings of performing and listening, musicologist Christopher Small takes Surette‘s observations further by analyzing the social implications of the concert hall itself. ―The auditorium‘s design…discourages communication…tells them they are there to listen and not talk back.‖18 The purpose of this thesis is not to directly follow in the footsteps of the work done by Small, Lawrence Levine and Herbert Gans, all of whom have made extraordinary additions to the sociology of the performing arts;19 however, their work provides an illuminating perspective in the context of this thesis. All too often, arts organizations only consider programming when attempting to sell more tickets or enroll more students, thereby failing to address many of the underlying issues that have helped maintain an aurora of exclusivity around performing arts organizations, and foster a high level of discomfort around entering concert halls and theatres. While building a new arts center is not as easy as making changes to programming,
Levine,Lawrence. Review: Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America. Harvard University Press, 1988, p. 101 18 Small, Christopher. Musicking. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1998. p. 27 19 For more see: Small, Christopher, Levine, Lawrence and Herbert Gans
it is certainly possible to develop a mission and create programs that help remove the veil of exclusivity and ―otherness‖ from an arts organization‘s literal (and figurative) façade. And, when planning or building a new space, arts organizations ought to seriously consider the social implications that their decisions about architectural and design will have on the general public. In his book, The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg emphasizes the importance of third places to healthy communities and functioning democracies. Where first and second places are the home and office, third places are, in Oldenburg‘s words, ―neighborhood hangouts that get you through the day.‖20 Oldenburg lists cafes, coffee shops, community centers, general stores, bars, and barbershops as typical third spaces, however they could have any ―front,‖ as long as they extend the local community and promote social dialogue and interaction.21 Using Oldenburg‘s model, it is appropriate to think of theatres and concert halls as fourth places, entities that are placed off the grid of everyday life for most people. Their sheer size, architectural style, and physical distance from the home, the office, and one‘s third place of choice, have rendered them useful only in special occasions and, as Surette would say, not for the good of the entire community. My intention here is not to take away from an arts center‘s role as an important architectural landmark for U.S. cities and as a practical and acoustical necessity for theatre, opera, ballet companies, and symphony orchestras. Nor am I suggesting that a large-scale operatic work, play, or symphony can simply be downsized to fit a smaller space without compromising artistry. The primary focus of this study is small and medium-sized organizations, since these organizations have greater flexibility in their use of physical space. Still, large
Putnam,Robert. Bowling Alone. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000. Lloyd,Richard. Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Post-Industrial City. Routledge, 2010. p. 100
organizations, too, need not sacrifice size, functionality, and acoustics in order to turn their buildings into third places where the general public can feel comfortable. The case study that follows targets prototype organizations that understand the close relationship between cultural policy and urban policy, between art and society, and between physical space and mission. (In the following examples my commentary on the quoted passages occurs in italics) Street Level Youth Media (Street Level) Location: Chicago, IL Budget: $500,000 + Website: http://www.street-level.org/About/history.html Mission: Street-Level Youth Media educates Chicago's urban youth in media arts and emerging technologies for use in self-expression, communication, and social change. Street-Level's programs build critical thinking skills for young people who have been historically neglected by public policy makers and mass media. Using video and audio production, computer art and the Internet, Street-Level's youth address community issues, access advanced communication technology and gain inclusion in our information-based society.
―After securing space at a neighborhood storefront across from where four gang lines converged, the group piloted a program called Neutral Ground, and using cameras to create a series of video letters, the artists opened a dialogue between rival gangs who had never spoken to one another. The success of the videos taught youth how to communicate, and in the process, to be powerful catalysts for community building.‖ Street Level brings attention to their storefront space, emphasizing the organization’s visibility and openness. Their programs are influenced by location, allowing Street Level to use the arts as a way to explore common ground amidst contested gang territory. Community building through site-specific art-making is promoted, resulting in an exemplary blend of cultural, urban, and social policy. ―In addition to Neutral Ground, our program space in West Town, Street Level instructors now conduct classes and workshops throughout Chicago via partnerships with schools and other youth agencies….Using these tools, young artists address personal and community issues such as violence, family matters, racism, gentrification, and history. They learn that art is a potent medium for expression, capable of initiating positive personal and community change.‖ While Street Level’s program space acts as the central hub, they extend their community reach through outreach, dialogue, and community engagement. There are three levels to Street Level’s
offerings: the physical space, programs with the immediate community, and programs that emphasize community development in the neighboring Chicago communities.
Old Town School of Folk Music Location: Chicago, IL Budget: 11,000,000 + Website: http://www.oldtownschool.org/together/ Mission: The Old Town School of Folk Music teaches and celebrates music and cultural expressions rooted in the traditions of diverse American and global communities. ―With 700 group class offerings, the Old Town School of Folk Music is the largest community arts school in the nation — and it's right here in Chicago. About 1,000 people come through our doors every day, creating an unmistakable vibrancy that spills out of our doors and into the neighborhood‖ Old Town School is proud of the amount of students and number of classes they have. All the work that occurs inside their building, they suggest, is then experienced in the local neighborhood and community. ―Old Town School is passing the torch to the next generation every day. But to secure the future, we need you to help us create the facilities that can sustain our mission…All together, our community continues to grow. Current facilities do not satisfy demand — classes are often held in busy administrative offices and lobbies, and concert venues are stretched beyond capacity. You can help us create a space that will set a new standard for teaching the world of dance and music. Their physical space is not enough to satisfy the high demand placed on them from students and patrons. They paint an image of classes being held in less-than-ideal physical situations; teachers are using any and all available space in their current location; if their needs for ample space were met they could offer more cultural programming which would, in turn, be beneficial for local community members. Facility features are designed to address our efforts to further our mission, expand awareness and access, and improve the quality of arts education for both teachers and students.
Three large dance studios equipped with sprung floors. Sixteen acoustically engineered classrooms A flex-use 2,100-square-foot, 150-seat convertible space that will act as a classroom, community area, dance hall or performance venue. Large lobby/community gathering area. LEED Certified, environmentally friendly building features
The physical space has implications for Old Town’s mission, quality of programming, and even quality of life for teachers and students. Emphasizing a commitment to sustainability, they seek to appeal to donors and supporters by emphasizing the LEED certification; emphasizing a commitment to the community, they plan to create a multi-use space to help break down barriers of exclusivity. The new facility will expand student capacity by 60% and provide public access to new concerts and dance parties every week. When the new building is up and running, Old Town School will pump an estimated total of $17 million into the local economy every year and support 800 permanent jobs. Again, public access is emphasized; besides music, the school hosts dance parties, fitness classes, community meetings, and other arts programs. In addition, the economic language shows that Old Town is making use of both the Community Building and Creative Economy paradigms. The website that is devoted to the creation of the new building emphasizes community input and togetherness at each step of the process. As participatory art becomes more important to residents, the Old Town School wants residents to feel as though they have had a hand in the creation of the building and will subsequently become important patrons and boosters.
Community Musicworks (CMW) Location: Providence, Rhode Island Budget: $600,000 + Website: http://www.communitymusicworks.org/about.htm Mission: ―To create a cohesive urban community through music education and performance that transforms the lives of children, families, and musicians. At the center of this mission are the teaching, mentoring, program design, and performance activities of the Providence String Quartet.‖ ―Based on the conviction that musicians can play an important public service role, Community MusicWorks has created an opportunity for a professional string quartet to build and transform its own urban community.‖ CMW harkens back to the New Deal artist residencies programs that supported town artists and brought the arts to new places. At CMW, the Providence String Quartet also fulfill roles as teachers and administrators; additionally, the building is a storefront location with large open windows and speakers, broadcasting performances and rehearsals to the sidewalk and streets, extending their artistic space out of the building itself. ―Sebastian Ruth founded Community MusicWorks in 1997 with the conviction that music and musicians have an important role to play in creating and transforming communities. With start-
up funding from the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University, Sebastian created the opportunity for a professional string quartet to teach, perform, live, and become fully integrated into an urban Providence neighborhood. Ruth’s model emphasizes full integration into the local community. Traditional outreach programs bring artists out of their rehearsal and performance space and into the greater community. CMW reverses this model of outreach so children do nott view the musicians as being disconnected from their lives. Today Community MusicWorks is a thriving community organization. Built around the permanent residency of the Providence String Quartet, we offer exciting programs that engage and inspire Providence youth and their families. Each member of the Providence String Quartet teaches instrument lessons, mentors students, performs locally, and organizes community building events for entire families…In addition, hundreds of children experience the Providence String Quartet through a series of annual school presentations and free local performances in libraries and community centers. In addition to developing their physical storefront space to allow for openness and visibility, CMW’s activities seek to foster a strong sense of community and cultural life for the immediate community: free lessons are provided, diverse and accessible chamber music concerts are given, and community meetings and events are held. CMW is not just a center for music performance and education, but is a multi-purpose third place for local residents, their families, activists, and musicians.
Zumix Location: Boston, MA Budget: 2,000,000 + Website: http://www.zumix.org/index.php Mission: Empowered youth, who use music to make strong positive change in their lives, their communities, and the world. In the summer of 2004, the Department of Neighborhood Development published an RFP for Engine Company 40 Firehouse on Sumner Street. In May of 2005, we were awarded the building. We closed on the Firehouse in December, 2008, and began construction in January 2009. The Firehouse renovations transformed a long-abandoned building into a beautiful, functional, and inspiring cultural and performance space for ZUMIX programs, our young participantism, and the East Boston community at large. Zumix has transformed an abandoned building into a thriving cultural space. The organization worked within the civic infrastructure to acquire the space and re-imagined an historic building that, before renovation, served a completely different purpose. They have re-imagined an unconventional cultural space—an abandoned fire house—to house their interdisciplinary arts programming.
All along our goal was to renovate this building with the latest "green" technology. This way, we would not only save a historic building and improve our neighborhood, but we would contribute to a healthier environment, create educational opportunities for our youth, and contribute to our financial sustainability by saving energy costs and attracting funders who support "green" organizations. We recently received Gold LEED Certification for the construction, an impressive accomplishment for a renovation project. Like Old Town School, and a substantial percentage of recent urban construction projects, Zumix made a commitment to historical preservation and green redevelopment. The organization conveys a sense of responsibility and pride in its neighborhood and therefore is committed to preserving a historical landmark and working within the local infrastructure. As an added bonus, Zumix will receive significant savings in their energy costs and potentially entice donors who wish to fund organizations with a commitment to sustainability. At 9,000 square feet, the firehouse is nearly three times the size of our old, leased space. The open layout of the first floor serves as a welcoming classroom by day and community performance space during the evenings and weekends. Community organizations are especially well-suited to build multi-use spaces that can be transformed and used for a variety of purposes. Doing this allows the organization to become a third place and will lead to increased foot traffic as well as higher demand for performances and educational programs. The basement level contains 3 music instruction rooms, a multimedia production lab, our ZUMIX radio station, and a small group instruction room for the younger students in our Sprouts program. The second floor contains a state-of-the-art recording studio, complete with control room, live room and isolation booth; as well as a small kitchen, lounge area, administrative office, and conference room. The building utilizes audio inter-connectivity between these spaces that allows for broadcast and recording of live events. The audio inter-connectivity helps connect teachers, students, and administrators and allows for greater technological capabilities that can be useful for educational and administrative purposes. In addition, there is a sense of building transparency that breaks down barriers between administrators, teachers, students, and parents. New World Symphony (NWS) Location: Miami, Florida Budget: $140,000,000 + Website(s): http://www.nws.edu/ http://www.nws.edu/NewCampus/index.html Mission: The Mission of the New World Symphony is to prepare highly-gifted graduates of distinguished music programs for leadership roles in orchestras and ensembles around the world.
In this example, the NWS’s new Frank Gehry-designed performance space will be analyzed. I will look at how PR materials promoting the new concert hall point toward new directions in mission, programming, and use of physical space for the NWS. ―It has become increasingly clear that the remarkable success of the New World Symphony far eclipses the physical capacity of its home since 1989, the Art Deco-era Lincoln Theatre. For all its vintage charm, the building has severe acoustical deficiencies and technological limitations. These challenges, coupled with a sheer lack of space, keep NWS from pursuing the next steps in orchestral innovation – whether in new performance formats, expanded educational programs, distance learning, or community outreach.‖ NWS feels that their current home—the Lincoln Theatre—limits their ability to carry out their artistic mission and offer performances of the highest quality. In addition to a lack of necessary space and appropriate acoustics, the design of the building does not convey enough openness or allow the organization to integrate community members and make use of advanced technology. Thus, their new hall will contain an outdoor speaker system and screens that that will broadcast rehearsals and performances to those who may not have been able to afford tickets, would rather enjoy the programming outdoors, or are simply passing by, unaware that a performance is going on. In doing so, they are literally extending the organization into the immediate community and potentially drawing in new patrons and supporters. ―NWS now seeks to create a new home that truly reflects everything it can offer to the world. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, this extraordinary environment promises to become a global hub for creative expression and collaboration, and a laboratory for generating new ideas about the way music is taught, performed, and experienced. The new campus will be a cultural meeting place as well – a second home for those who care (or are simply curious) about classical music and its future.‖ NWS is promoting the “new campus” (their words) as more than just a performance space or educational facility; it will in fact be a “global hub for creative expression and collaboration.” More and more large arts institutions in particular feel a need to become simultaneously globalized and localized. They are utilizing webcasts and instant live recordings while also giving more diverse and innovative local performances. From a marketing standpoint, this convergence of interest is particularly persuasive to donors and civic leaders. Globalization implies that their community, regardless of size or past commitment to cultural endeavors, can compete with institutions in cultural powerhouse cities like New York, L.A., and Chicago. Simultaneously, the commitment to community and local affairs implies a symbiotic relationship between the NWS and the community. (This point is discussed in more depth following the next example) In keeping with the New World Symphony‘s community commitment, the new campus is a private/public partnership with Miami Dade County and the City of Miami Beach. The new campus exists at the heart of the City Center Redevelopment Project, a joint venture to inject new vitality into the downtown neighborhood of Miami Beach‘s 17th Street Corridor, located just two blocks from the ocean on Lincoln Road, behind Lincoln Road Mall. The City of Miami Beach will build a parking garage and 2-acre public park adjacent to the campus.
NWS has positioned itself as part of a larger City Center Redevelopment Project by partnering with the City of Miami Beach. Once the new campus is completed, the community will have a new parking garage, more green space, as well as a new cultural center. NWS is moving past the misinformed idea that a new concert hall itself can help the arts organization as well as the city. In addition to creating a new facility, they are also re-thinking their mission and their relationship with the community.
National Endowment for the Arts Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative Since 1986, the Mayors' Institute on City Design® (MICD) has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities. To build on the momentum created by the MICD over its history, the Arts Endowment is announcing the NEA Mayors' Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative which will award a limited number of grants, ranging from $25,000 to $250,000, to showcase and celebrate the goals of the MICD during its anniversary in 2011. MICD mayors know that the arts and culture contribute greatly as core components in building livable and sustainable communities. They have discovered that the art of place-making contributes to their communities' economic and cultural vitality. MICD mayors also know firsthand that through design and involvement with the arts and cultural activities, citizens engage in a celebration of place and make their communities dynamic places to live and work. "In the context of place-making, arts and cultural activities make sense because of benefits intrinsic to their very nature: they provide novel opportunities for expression and creativity; they reinforce and build social capital; they facilitate connections across urban and regional boundaries; they help to construct quality public space; and they provide educational opportunities for residents. They also, in fact, generate significant levels of residential and commercial economic value." Jeremy Nowak President, The Reinvestment Fund From Creativity and Neighborhood Development: Strategies for Community Investment All three paradigms—Creative Economy, Community-Building, and Cultural Geography— converge in Jeremy Nowak’s introduction to the RFP. Under the new leadership of Rocco Landsman, the NEA has taken an interest in projects that have a basis in urban design. Partnerships Partnerships can be valuable to the success of MICD projects, especially when involving and leveraging public and private sector resources. While not required, partnerships are encouraged for NEA Mayors' Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative projects. Partnerships succeed when they are founded with shared vision, shared planning, and shared resources. Potential partners may include a wide variety of entities such as foundations, arts organizations
and artists, design professionals and design centers, developers, business owners, and community organizations, as well as public entities. Partnerships play an integral role in the ability of small and medium-sized arts organizations to secure a physical space. Strategic partnerships expand social networks and lead to innovative programming. The Arts Endowment plans to support a variety of diverse projects, across the country in communities of all sizes. Projects may include planning, design, and arts engagement activities such as: Planning
The planning of arts districts. The mapping of cultural assets and related developmental potential. The promotion of the arts and artists as integral components of community life and essential to community planning. The exploration of innovative approaches that maximize the economic growth of a community's creative sector.
The NEA’s description of the planning description alludes to all three paradigms, especially Community-Building and Creative Economy. In greater accordance with the Cultural Geography Paradigm, this description could emphasize the importance of cultivating natural cultural districts. Design
The promotion of design and the arts to enhance livability and as central components for the development and enhancement of new or existing public spaces -- such as parks, public buildings, libraries, memorials, streets -- through architecture, streetscapes, pedestrian bridges, neighborhood gateways, and sustainable parks and landscapes. Design competitions or charettes (design workshops) for arts or cultural vitality projects. The revitalization of neighborhoods that focuses on preserving the historic value and heritage of existing buildings and/or the adaptive reuse of structures to be used as cultural facilities or for mixed use purposes (i.e., for cultural facilities and other entities). This includes affordable housing for artists and others, artist studios or live/work space, and entrepreneurial new creative sector business development.
Here is a clear instance of cultural policy meshing with urban policy, with specific parallels to the New Urbanism22 as well as adaptive reuse and historic preservation. Public-private partnerships are emphasized as a meaningful way to utilize available resources and create new opportunities. Finally, the description emphasizes creative economy development by attracting entrepreneurial artists and by stressing the positive benefits of full integration by artists and arts organizations.
For more see: The Congress for New Urbanism Reading List
The transformation of community sites into public spaces for cultural activities. Projects which contribute to cultural vitality and a sense of place such as innovative community engagement projects, including festivals, community-wide celebrations, outdoor exhibitions, and learning opportunities; and the commissioning of temporary and/or permanent site-specific public art such as murals and sculptures, sculpture gardens, and waterfront art walks. New media or technology projects that connect citizens to cultural activities or engage them in participating in city planning or design projects.
The engaging art movement challenges artists and organizations to re-think the creative and artistic experience. While there is no formula for creating more engaging art (and a more engaging artistic experience), it often emphasizes interdisciplinary programming that will attract diverse participants with omnivorous tastes. This section has brought attention to prototype organizations that have integrated their artistic mission and programming with their physical space. I have included an array of organizations, from a low-budget storefront digital media lab (Street Level) to a premier orchestra and cultural attraction in the Miami-Dade County area (New World Symphony). In addition, I have included a RFP from the NEA that exemplifies the intersection of cultural policy and urban planning at the national level. Despite significant differences that exist between each organization—including discipline, location, operating budget, and target demographic—a number of similarities exist in regard to their ideas about, and their uses of physical space: 1. Technological and architectural strategies that display literal openness, including storefront locations, open windows, as well as outdoor screens and speaker systems. 2. Historic preservation and use of green/LEED certified construction. 3. Strategic partnerships between the arts organization and relevant city/civic agencies. 4. Multi-purpose and common areas are used for community meetings and discussion, parties and potlucks, allowing the arts organization to function as a third place.
5. Arts organizations are renewing mission statements to emphasize community building and the local impact of the arts organization. This similarities point to concrete steps that arts organizations are taking to become more innovative and community-involved without sacrificing artistic integrity. These prototype organizations have made a conscious effort to completely understand the myriad factors that can predict the ultimate success of an arts organization; in doing so they are finding pathways to heightened artistic and organizational creativity and empowerment.
Chicago Case Study The purpose of the Chicago Case Study was to more fully understand the ideas and concepts that presented themselves in the National Case Study. The information gained from the National Case Study helped inform the questions posed to artists and administrators whom I spoke to in Chicago. My two primary goals in were to 1.) learn about the processes for discovering, choosing, funding, and altering spaces to meet the needs of each arts organization, and to 2.) understand the influence of space on each organization‘s mission, programming, and educational offerings. In addition I was searching for more examples of building types on which to base the Typology of Space. The typology is offered at the end of this section and combines information gained about building type in both case studies. Site Selection and Research Techniques I have self-selected each organization looked at in this case study. In order to develop a comprehensive list and large pool of organizations from which to choose from, I consulted relevant literature, the non-profit database Guidestar, and spoke with a number of persons knowledgeable about Chicago performing arts organizations. I decided to focus on four organizations that appeared to be community-focused, were housed in unique and
unconventional buildings, and had budgets under $750,000. Background information on each organization was obtained through public records, Guidestar, organization websites, and through references in the relevant literature. Interviews with each organization were conducted either in person, over the phone, or via email. In addition, site visits allowed me to get a more complete sense of building type and the organization‘s use of physical space. The People’s Music School (People’s) Mission: The People's Music School, as the only totally free community music school in the United States, is a unique and special place. The School embodies the vision of its founder, Dr. Rita Simo. Rita learned to play the piano in her native Dominican Republic, where music lessons are free. When she came to the United States to study at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, Rita was distraught to find that many American children were often denied the opportunity for private music lessons, simply because their parents could not afford to pay for them. After receiving her Doctor of Music from Boston University, Rita began to dream of creating a place where anyone could receive music instruction, regardless of their financial situation. Budget: 500,000 + Website: http://www.peoplesmusicschool.org/index.htm Interview with: Bob Fiedler, Executive Director The People‘s Music School, famous in Chicago for its first-come-first-served offering of free musical instrument and theory lessons, has had a permanent home on 931 West Eastwood Avenue since 1995. Prior to moving into their current location, the school occupied two different rented spaces. During the first ten years of existence, People‘s occupied a one room facility in a converted beauty salon at 4417 N. Broadway. A lack of sufficient space prompted a move to the Institute for Cultural Affairs (ICA), located on the corner of Lawrence and Sheridan. At the ICA, the school rented a larger central room along with three smaller rooms that were used for private and small group lessons. From the beginning, the school and its founder were welcomed into the Uptown community. The combination of quality instruction, a healthy and safe learning environment, along with a friendly price tag, ensured a higher demand for the school‘s services. Dr. Rita Simo
quickly began her search for a larger, permanent space in the Uptown neighborhood. Through a strong relationship with the first Mayor Richard Daley‘s wife, and through negotiations with the city of Chicago, Dr. Simo was able to acquire a vacant lot next to a halfway house on N. Broadway for one cent. In exchange for this deal with the city, People‘s agreed to continue to provide 100% of its educational services free of charge for at least 30 years. Simo and others fundraised and solicited donations rigorously and, by 1995, finally had their own home, a two-level building with practice rooms, classrooms, an indoor performance space, a rooftop performance space, as well as administrative offices. This physical space has been crucial both to the school itself and to the Uptown community. For the school, it symbolized permanency and allowed it to reach more students and hold more performances. Students get to share the fruits of their labor with parents, friends, and community members by performing inside and even on the roof, where sound can be heard all over uptown through the natural urban acoustics. In addition, outside ensembles often come to perform, offering motivation for students and entertainment for Uptown residents. People‘s relationship with the Uptown community has been an important aspect of its programming and educational offerings. Dr. Simo specifically chose Uptown for the school based on its ethnic and cultural diversity as well as its economic underdevelopment. Fiedler alludes to the strong sense of mutual respect that exists between the school and the community: Despite its location next to a halfway house and, until recent redevelopment, its proximity to abandoned buildings used constantly for illicit drug use, the building has never been vandalized and there have not been altercations between drug users, residents of the half-way house and the school‘s staff and students. In addition, independent researchers have suggested that the low
crime and murder rates in Uptown, despite harsh economic realities, can be attributed to the People‘s Music School‘s influence on the community‘s vibrant arts and cultural scene.23 The school‘s building design and physical location do not allow for easy visibility. A lack of windows, combined with a very plain exterior, unassuming signage, and a location near a dead-end street limit the amount of passersby who notice the school. But, Fiedler claims that while more visibility would be ideal, their programming has not been inhibited by a lack of visibility. The school‘s dedication to its social mission of providing free lessons and concerts, ensure that it is always bustling and that they never struggle to bring families and students through the door. News reports consistently cover the school‘s registration process each fall, during which families literally camp out days before registration begins in order to have the best chance at getting their child registered for classes or private lessons.24 The school‘s open-door policy, humanitarian mission, and outdoor concert hall have helped to create more opportunities for community interaction despite a physical location and building design that do not allow for easy visibility. In addition, street festivals, outdoor concerts, and outreach performances have helped to extend the school‘s reach into Chicago. Through a diverse combination of programming and educational offerings, the People‘s Music School makes a strong contribution to the cultural and social life of Uptown and the greater Chicago area. Street Level Youth Media (Street Level) * Also assessed in National Case Study Mission: Street-Level Youth Media educates Chicago's urban youth in media arts and emerging technologies for use in self-expression, communication, and social change. Street-Level's programs build critical thinking skills for young people who have been historically neglected by public policy makers and mass media. Using video and audio production, computer art and the
http://www.hedricksmith.com/site_solutions/community/ccBiosOrganization.htm http://www.wgntv.com/videobeta/0737e500-b4de-41e7-8893-4683487b5630/News/Camping-Out-for-FreeMusic-School and http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news%2Flocal&id=7636654
Internet, Street-Level's youth address community issues, access advanced communication technology and gain inclusion in our information-based society. Budget: $500,000 + Website: http://www.street-level.org/About/index.html Interview with: Chris Lee, Media Instructor Like the People‘s Music School, Street Level has had to make do with temporary spaces while pursuing the dream of finding a permanent location. They currently occupy an open storefront located on the corner of Campbell and Augusta in Humboldt Park. It is a temporary space until Street Level moves into a newly built facility for digital media arts in Logan Square. While awaiting the move into their new space, Street Level has experienced some difficulty in completely fulfilling their artistic and social goals. Writes Chris Lee: ―I feel since we know it‘s a temporary space, we treat it like that…not really focusing on the environment. We normally operate in a much bigger space, housing a gallery, small stage, and multiple learning rooms…so we had many workshops to offer, and spaces for the kids to hang out…now we only can offer one workshop [each] day after school. Also with the move we lost the space we used for open access, which also provided open use of technology for the community.‖ Lee points to how temporary spaces can limit what an organization can offer and can affect the organization‘s mindset. Small, temporary spaces can inhibit programming and limit the amount of renovations and personalization that is possible. However, Street Level‘s current temporary location has not severely limited their community involvement. Since the organization has been located in the same general area— Humboldt Park/West Town—for approximately 15 years, they have been able to maintain existing partnerships and networks as they work to establish their permanent location in Logan Square. Once they move into their permanent location, they will be able to become fully
integrated into their new neighborhood while also creating ties between residents and artists in Humboldt Park and those in Logan Square. Evanston Arts Depot and Piccolo Theatre (Arts Depot) Mission: to enrich the Evanston Illinois community through artistic expression, education and entertainment. Budget: +/- $300,000 Website: http://www.artsdepot.us/artsdepot/history.html Interview with: Leeann Zahrt, Business Manager The Evanston Arts Depot and Piccolo Theatre [Company] reside in one of the most unorthodox spaces looked at in this study: a train station. In the mid-1990s John Szostek worked to form partnerships and attain funding to renovate the Main Street Train Station (Located in Evanston, just outside of Chicago) into a performance space and cultural center. Through cooperation with Metra, The Union Pacific Railroad, the City of Evanston, the Evanston Community Foundation, the State of Illinois, the Illinois Arts Council, as well as the National Endowment of the Arts, a four million dollar renovation project was completed in 2007. ―The extensive refurbishment included reinforcement of the structure's unsteady foundation, stabilization or replacement of well-worn platforms, and restoration of the North waiting room as well as the interior plasterwork and woodwork to their original condition. The building was also made handicapped-accessible through the installation of an elevator and ramps. Finally, in order to enhance its renewed function as a cultural center in South Evanston, a 50-seat theater, studio space, and set construction area replaced the old baggage room, coal room and fire-damaged upper room.‖25 The Arts Depot is home to a variety of groups, including The Piccolo Theatre, the Evanston Festival Theatre Inc., and Custer‘s Last Stand Festival of the Arts. In addition, there is a commuter café/coffee shop on the premises called Pufferbelly‘s, named after a group of model
train enthusiasts that had previously met and displayed their trains during the early days of the station‘s existence. The building is also used to display work by local artists, functions as a meeting space for business groups and a performance space for outside ensembles, and provides space for classes such as drumming, tai chi, and yoga. . The multi-purpose functionality of the Arts Depot has not only helped attract a diverse body of artists and arts groups, but has also helped turn the center into a hub for artistic innovation. Lango is an organization that teachers foreign languages to children through theatrical and musical techniques (http://www.langokids.com/); Focal Point Theatre Company explores language through multiple arts disciplines, confronts social and political issues through theatre, and empowers audiences to take ownership in the artistic process and creation (http://www.focalpointtheatre.com/). More and more, mixed use cultural centers are becoming incubators for new ideas, resembling Research and Development centers that have more traditionally been associated with consumer goods and technology innovation. Though hundreds of commuters wait at the Main Street platform every day, the Arts Depot initially struggled to gain community awareness. Leeann mentioned that local community members did not initially know that the center existed, and were not aware of the breadth of classes and performances that were offered. There was a long process of educating patrons and rental companies about the center‘s existence. Anecdotally, Leeann points out that she went through an arduous process to simply get ‗Google Maps‘ to accurately locate the Arts Depot in their database. The Arts Depot‘s location in an unorthodox space was initially a barrier to visibility and limited foot traffic by passersby who are not accustomed to arts organizations existing in train stations.
Even though there were initial struggles, Leeann commented on how important it is for arts organizations to have a space, even an unorthodox one. The combination of costs and availability of spaces in desirable locations often limit small and medium sized arts organizations from securing a permanent, functional space. Leeann also pointed out that, though she has two college degrees from highly regarded institutions, she was never taught many of the business and administrative skills that have allowed her to pursue a rich career in the arts. There is a significant need for colleges, conservatories, and universities to re-structure performing arts curriculums to include courses in valuable skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing and management, and community development.26 Until this happens, nearly all emerging artists will have to learn these important skills solely through internships or ―on the job.‖ Albany Park Theater Project (APTP) Mission: Albany Park Theater Project is a multiethnic, youth theater ensemble that inspires people to envision a more just and beautiful world. Budget: $550,000 + Website: http://www.aptpchicago.org/ Interview with: David Feiner, Artistic Director APTP is an important cultural organization in Chicago‘s extremely diverse Albany Park neighborhood. At the core of APTP‘s offerings, are their original productions that are derived from the lives of local residents. ―APTP creates original theater that shares the real-life stories of urban teens, immigrants, and working-class Americans… APTP humanizes issues that impact real people but too often get discussed as abstract concepts.‖27 In many ways, APTP is committed to breaking out of its walls and into the social, cultural, and political landscape of Albany Park. Company members scour the streets searching for untold stories and inspiration from regular, working-class Chicagoans. These stories are then integrated into original plays that take place inside the walls of the Eugene Field Park Community Center. APTP has its theatre,
For more see: New England Conservatory Strategic Plan http://www.aptpchicago.org/
rehearsal space, administrative offices on the second floor of the community center, a large building tucked away in a residential Albany Park neighborhood. And while the location and shared space limit visibility, Feiner notes that the company‘s permanent residency in Albany Park, combined with meaningful partnerships and outreach programs, still allows APTP to reach a diverse group of students and theatergoers. APTP has made the Eugene Field Park Community Center its permanent home through a partnership with the Chicago Parks District. APTP pays reduced rent in exchange for its contribution to the Chicago Parks District‘s afterschool programs. At one point, APTP was offered a former firehouse located in a prominent, visible location but, after considering the high costs that would be needed to renovate the building to fit their needs, decided it would be too much of an (unnecessary) financial risk to leave their location. APTP has also built a rehearsal and performance space, as well as administrative offices, in their second floor space and was therefore inclined to make the most out of their existing space. Lastly, APTP has developed strong relationships with local schools and community groups, and become a mainstay in the Chicago theatre community. A typical APTP audience exemplifies their wide network, bringing together friends and parents of the performers, Albany Park community members, as well as Chicago residents who wish to experience great theatre in an ethnically diverse community Typology of Space This case study shows that the process by which small and medium sized arts organizations in Chicago discover, fund, and renovate space is not easy, nor is it uniform. It also reveals that location, type of space, and building size all have a tremendous impact on what an arts organization can offer and how they can contribute to the cultural and social life of their community. Community members, entrepreneurial artists and organizations, as well as planners
are in a position to benefit from knowing more about the process by which space is acquired and funded: Community members can take advantage of local cultural offerings by developing personal relationships and cultivating business partnerships with local arts organizations. As Grams and Warr have suggested, small and medium sized arts organizations can widen social networks and improve the quality of life for residents. Entrepreneurial artists and organizations should gain a greater awareness about how to obtain spaces and how space can improve their ability to contribute to an increasingly competitive creative economy. The case study shows that spaces can often be acquired through innovative community partnerships and by developing an ―insider‘s‖ knowledge of a specific community. Anecdotally, Community Musicworks founder Sebastian Ruth described initially finding his organization‘s storefront space because he literally lived down the street; given his proximity and familiarity with the neighborhood he was able to immediately inquire about the space and, ultimately, make it the permanent home for Community Muiscworks.28 While adequate funding is a serious concern for artists and organizations, co-ops and community partnerships can significantly reduce costs and help to convince residents and potential donors of an arts organization‘s potential for future success. Finally, from a planning perspective, it is advisable to cultivate natural cultural districts through asset-based community development. Planners ought to help arts organizations marry artistic goals with the social and cultural needs of the community. Typology of Space: Key Attributes and Characteristics Open Storefront Implications: Smaller organization that seeks to have a direct community focus and carry out combined missions in performance and education
Ruth Sebastian. ―So You Have an Idea…‖ Discussion, 1 October 2010
Advantages: Visibility and direct community involvement; storefronts allow for openness and means to develop relationships with residents and passersby who might not otherwise be aware of the organization. Drawbacks: Organizations are often limited by the size and configurations of these spaces. Additionally, depending on the specific location, there can be zoning barriers and/or funding issues when buildings are in desirable commercial districts. Community or cultural center space Implications: These spaces are often acquired through partnerships with public entities, such as park services and public schools. Depending on the nature of the community center, the organization occupying this type of space may operate autonomously or through the auspices of a larger umbrella organization; this distinction has implications for the occupying organization‘s development and marketing strategies. Advantages: The organization will pay significantly less rent or, in some cases, develop a partnership in exchange for reduced or free rent. The organization is also automatically entered into a larger social and cultural community that can lead to future partnerships and collaboration. Drawbacks: These sites are often situated in locations without easy visibility and away from heavy pedestrian traffic. Depending on the amount of space and the specific relationship with the community center, the arts organization may not be able to carry out its mission and artistic plan. In addition, from a cultural development standpoint, I believe that it is desirable to have numerous cultural hubs and locations as opposed to one central location where all small arts organizations are concentrated. Vacant land (built to specification)
Implications: Larger organizations or small to medium-sized that have secured land through city partnerships or in parts of the city that offer relatively inexpensive land. Advantages: An organization can build to their specifications and include the community and city in the creation. Once built, a strong sense of civic pride can be utilized to attract patrons, donors, and cultural participants. In addition, space can be rented out to other artists and community groups for additional income. Drawbacks: The amount of capital required, in addition to the difficulty in finding the appropriate space, gaining the necessary permits, and the amount of time required to see a project from inception to completion. In addition, for locations outside of the city, accessibility through public transportation may not be possible. Abandoned building (transformation and renovation) Implications: An organizations requires a large space for performance. There are more cases of visual artists transforming abandoned factories and warehouses into cultural spaces, but an increasing number of performing arts organizations are beginning to follow suit with great success. Advantages: Can boost the local economy by attracting the creative class business development. The presence of arts organizations can also help lead to decline in vandalism and crime and improve mutual respect between community members and local businesses/organizations. and gaining community respect so that vandalism and crime will decline and remain low Drawbacks: Spaces are often in undesirable post-industrial locations or will be in areas undergoing gentrification. Complications with building specifications may occur during the renovation process and add unforeseen costs to the process. Unconventional space
Implications: Start-up grassroots organizations or co-ops often interested in folk arts, street-level arts, and collaborative arts. These spaces can either be temporary or permanent; in the latter case, they are often acquired through negotiations and/or partnerships with public and private entities. Advantages: Can boost cultural tourism and the local economy; Can help reduce crime and revitalize underutilized spaces; helps to foster innovation and arts-based R+D. Drawbacks: Organizations must be flexible in the kind of space and location; Often unconventional spaces are rented and cannot be significantly altered. Need for Further Research Further research is needed to create a more extensive typology of space. Specifically, researchers could attempt to understand how each type of building/space fits into the three models mentioned in the literature review (creative economy, community building, cultural geography). Finally, studies that seek to gather qualitative data from community members about the implications of different types of spaces would be immensely useful to arts organizations, developers, and planners.
Conclusion, Implications, and Recommendations In Allan Kozzin‘s 2006 New York Times article , ―Check the Numbers: Rumors of Classical Music‘s Demise Are Dead Wrong,‖ he cites the high number of new concert halls that were being planned and built at the time as an indicator of a supposed classical music renaissance. ―Concert halls are sprouting like mushrooms,‖ he writes. ―New symphony halls are about to open in Miami, Nashville and Costa Mesa, Calif. (not far from the newly opened Disney Hall in Los Angeles), and Toronto is opening a new opera house in September. Clearly, someone
sees a future for this music.‖29 The primary purpose of Kozzin‘s article was not to suggest an exclusive, causal link between the construction of new concert halls and the prosperity of classical music; indeed, he also supports his claim by mentioning indicators such as live webcasts, adventurous programming, and extended seasons. Still, Kozzin is not the first to equate the construction, or even the idea, of new performance and rehearsal facilities with success; for quite some time, the success of an arts organization, and a major indicator of a city‘s commitment to culture, has been symbolized by the size and grandeur of its concert halls and theatres. Kozzin assures us that someone sees a future in classical music and, for our purposes, we can assume that someone sees a future in theatre as well. Based on steadily declining attendance and participation figures, though, it is clear that the general public is not the someone Kozzin is referring to. At worst, the construction of a new concert hall only signifies that the individual arts organization, their donors, and strategically aligned civic leaders see the value in the arts, a clientele that surely knew of the value before plans for a new concert hall were made. In her 2009 New York Times article, ―In the arts, bigger buildings may not be better,‖ Robin Pogrebin attempts to pinpoint the cause for the widespread construction of concert halls that Kozzin alludes to in his article. She cites the worldwide acclaim and interest in Frank Gehry‘s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as the catalyst for the building boom. ―Within months of its opening in 1997, Frank Gehry‘s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao had given the language a new term and the world a new way of looking at culture. The ―Bilbao effect,‖ many came to believe, was the answer to what ailed cities everywhere — it was a way to lure tourists and economic
development — and a potential boon to cultural institutions.‖30 In the long term, however, the Bilbao Effect became a manifestation of myopic planning, with unfilled hopes of substantially boosting attendance, strengthening donor support, and increasing civic pride. Organizations were merely ―blinded by the excitement of what it would be like to have this great new facility,‖ says Carroll Joynes, senior fellow at the University of Chicago‘s Cultural Policy Center. Joynes makes it clear that the economic downtown cannot be blamed for the high amount of projects that had to be abandoned before completion and those that, upon completion, exacerbated severe financial struggles for arts organizations. ―The recession is exposing the weakness of a lot of institutions that were seriously overstretched [before it began].‖31 Joynes and colleagues are currently concluding a study of 50 cultural building projects completed from 1994 to 2008 and their planning processes.32 The study, he says, is ―exposing poor management and poor planning. These were situations in which nobody actually asked: ‗Is there a need here? If they build it, will they come?‘ ‖33 The juxtaposition of the two New York Times articles helps to offer context for this study and to convey a need for closer examination into the connections between physical space and a performing arts organization‘s success. A number of intriguing questions beg to be answered: What is the relationship between an arts organization and its physical space? How can effective building design and urban planning help arts organizations and, ultimately, help communities and cities to thrive? And finally, how have public perceptions about the performing arts been shaped by the way in which organizations use and market their physical space? These questions have yet to be fully answered by researchers, planners, artists, and arts organizations, though
Ibid Ibid 33 Ibid
they are of great importance for arts organizations and cities that wish to remain culturally relevant and economically viable in a rapidly changing urban world. This study was my attempt at synthesizing the relevant literature and beginning to answer the important questions alluded to above. I began by looking at a diverse body of literature in order to present a framework for better understanding the ways in which arts organizations have been studied in the context of U.S. cities. From the literature, three distinct paradigms emerged: Creative Economy, Community Building, and Cultural Geography. Each paradigm offered a useful perspective, but the Cultural Geography paradigm, combining both the economic and sociological-based models into a cohesive whole, proved to be the most effective. Developed by researchers at the Social Impact of the Arts Project, this model also adds the dimension of location—specifically the geographic clustering of cultural institutions—to the mix. I have attempted to carry out my research primarily with the Cultural Geography theory in mind, while also incorporating ideas about physical space and building type into this paradigm. An expanded Cultural Geography model—that includes ideas about physical space and building type—offers the most complete and relevant paradigm for understanding small and medium-sized arts organizations in the urban locale. The National Case Study focused on an array of arts organizations throughout the U.S. in order to help better understand the ways in which these organizations have ‗marketed‘ their physical space and linked their physical space with their mission, programming, and educational offerings. Using the National Case Study as a foundation, I developed a set of relevant questions to ask the organizations looked at in the Chicago Case Study. I decided to focus on four Chicagobased performing arts organizations with annual budgets under $750,000. After first obtaining background information on each organization, I conducted interviews and carried out site visits
in order to gain a complete understanding of the relationship between each arts organization and its physical space. The two case studies combined revealed that urban planning and cultural policy are becoming increasingly linked as arts organizations seek out more effective ways to diversify their programming and have a more direct impact on the local community. Organizations are beginning to transform unorthodox spaces—abandoned factories and warehouses, fire stations, storefront shops, train stations—into vibrant hubs for cultural activity. Similarly, arts organizations are gaining a greater understanding about the importance of historic preservation, creative redevelopment, and green technology; likewise, urban planners and community development agencies have realized that arts organizations can have a significant impact on the cultural, social, aesthetic, and economic well-being of communities. Some organizations have used architecture, physical design, and technology directly to their advantage, helping to convey a sense of openness to their communities. Outdoor amenities—such as speaker systems, video screens, enhanced green space, and park benches—help convey this sense of openness, literally extending the arts organization‘s reach into the community. In addition, organizations have built multi-purpose performance and rehearsal spaces that are then used both for the organization‘s needs and are also rented out to community groups, business groups, and outside performers. These combined factors, related to building design and physical space, are helping to break down barriers of exclusivity and change the prevailing public perception that arts organizations only exist for the occasional leisure of wealthy community members. The Typology of Space acts to classify and systematize the information gained from the case studies. It will help convince planners, developers, and community groups to utilize arts organization in their attempts to turn liabilities (abandoned buildings and vacant lots) into assets
(community-based arts organizations). 34 Likewise, it can help artists and start-up organizations to become more entrepreneurial and more resourceful in their efforts to find and fund physical spaces. Arts organizations must look past the conventional idea about what a suitable concert hall or theatre is supposed to look, feel, and sound like. Through innovative partnerships, strategic fundraising, and creative renovation, arts organizations can turn under-utilized urban space into hubs for inspiring artistic activity. The Typology of Space is an important first step in helping planners, developers, artists, and arts organizations better understand the relationship between arts organizations and urban space. In a study commissioned by Americans for the Arts, a team of researchers and writers use Portland, Oregon as a case study to convey the need for a complementary relationship between arts organizations and urban planners. They write that Portland‘s ―land use and urban growth policies, zoning codes, and commitment to public art have yielded a compact, human scale, pedestrian-oriented urban form, and promoted good design.‖ Using Portland as an example, the study makes the following conclusion for cities wishing to develop and strengthen cultural capital through strategic urban planning: 1. Cities should promote the adaptive reuse of buildings to house creative enterprises from the arts to advertising so that performances spaces, offices, galleries, studios, live/work spaces, cafes, incubators for cultural organizations, and start-up ventures can co-exist and cross-pollinate 2. Major cultural facilities must also be re-thought—and, in some cases, rebuilt. They can either be forbidding monoliths or vibrant civic spaces that contribute to a sense of a place.
For more see: Kretzmann, John P and John L. McKnight. Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets. ACTA, 1997.
Programming as well as architecture can ―turn them inside out,‖ connect them to their neighborhoods, and welcome the public in.35 These conclusion further support the insight gained from this study: Like those in Portland, Oregon, successful performing arts organizations in Chicago, Boston, Miami, and Providence (and surely among other places), are becoming more culturally and socially relevant by ‗turning inside out‘. The process has been a gradual one, as it tends to involve much more than revamped marketing campaigns or changes to programming. But, arts organizations that have embraced some of these new models and ideas are being met with tremendous success and experiencing more artistic freedom. Sebastian Ruth, and his organization Community Musicworks that was featured in the National Case Study, was a recent recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. Community Musicworks has achieved tremendous success by melding an artistic mission with a social one and by taking advantage of a thorough understanding of their physical space and the local community. Recently, the Live Arts Brewery (LAB) in Philadelphia opened after receiving significant funding to transform a former beer brewery into an innovating cultural arts center. ―With major grants, an expanded new space in Northern Liberties, and a determined leader, the [Philly Fringe Live Arts Festival] is tackling research and development - a concept generally associated with new drugs and new cars, but not new works of art. It has developed a program called LAB - the Live Arts Brewery - that pays a handful of theater artists, dancers, and musicians (at this point all local) to create work. It gives them the space to do it, the equipment
Bulick, Bill and Carol Coletta, Colin Jackson, Andrew Taylor and Steven Wolff. ―Cultural Development in Creative Communities.‖ Mongraph: November 2003.
to do it right, small audiences to react as it evolves, and the oversight of a major-festival producer to guide it to polished completion.‖36 There are three recurring attributes that the most successful small and medium-sized arts organizations have; these are: 1) A socially conscious commitment to performance and education 2)Innovative and ambitious programming and curriculum design, often combined with the strategic use of technology 3)Creative and adaptive use/re-use of physical space Along these lines, I offer the following recommendations for different-sized arts organizations that wish to become culturally and socially relevant: 1. For the grassroots, the new, the very small, or the individual artist:
Collaboration and Partnership: Individuals and start-up organizations should form co-ops that are interdisciplinary and that take advantage of unorthodox and vacant spaces, including but not limited to community centers, train stations, storefronts, and warehouses. These organizations and individuals should utilize community development agencies that may be aware of temporary spaces or potential partnerships. There are even specific organizations that exist to assist artists in getting free and significantly reduced space in areas that are underdeveloped or temporarily vacant.37 2. For the medium-sized organization:
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/columnists/howard_shapiro/20100831_Philly_Fringe_opens_LAB__Live_Arts_Bre wery__in_Northern_Liberties_for_new_works.html 37 For more see www.chashama.org
These organizations should seek out specific communities and permanent locations if at all possible. They should strive for a close alignment between location, space, mission, and programming. Medium-sized organizations should find ways to be street-level, have a social mission in addition to an artistic mission, and cater toward omnivorous tastes. Partnering with local organizations and other artists is also key to the success of these organizations. 3. For the largest While these organizations need to be housed in relatively large, high-functioning spaces, there are a number of recommendations to be considered especially when planning for renovations, new spaces, and when re-thinking marketing and business strategies. First, though it may seem obvious, when considering a new building, organizations must make certain there is a need for a new space, knowing that new spaces create a huge financial burden and often do not bring in an additional amount revenue, especially over extended periods of time. In Engaging Art: the next great transformation of America’s cultural life, the authors write that, ―dollar for dollar, it has proved easiest in recent years to get money to build concert halls, as if low attendance was caused by having poor facilities…The recent history of such changes is that the new facilities make for an increase in ticket sales but that, if nothing else is done to cultivate omnivores, the increases disappear as the novelty wears off.‖38 This claim has been corroborated by the SIAP, who suggest that the substitution effect often leads to inflated estimates of a new arts center‘s probable economic impact.39 Additionally, the cost disease, also known as the Baumol Effect, points out that, from an economic standpoint, the arts are a problematic sector: costs continually increase while productivity does not. To use a classic example, in order to play
Ed. by Tepper, Steven J. and William Ivey. Engaging Art: the next great transformation of America’s cultural life. Routledge: 2007. 39 Seifert, Susan C. and Mark J. Stern. 2005. ―From Creative Economy to Creative Society‖ p. 1. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, Social Impact of the Arts Project.
a Schubert string quartet, it will always require the same amount of people and the same amount of time with slight variations in amount of time needed for rehearsal. New concert halls almost always increase operating costs, thereby compounding the effects of the cost disease. The hypothetical model I propose for large performing arts organizations is aimed at helping these organizations combat the economic forces working against them and better reach increasingly diverse, culturally-omnivorous populations. Under this model, a large performing arts organization should significantly scale down their main performance/education facility in both form and function. This building should have excellent acoustics and be able to meet the demand for an organization‘s largest performances and consistent audiences sizes; however, significant cuts should be imposed in order to limit the size of the building and excessive grandeur. The immediate area should be treated as an extension of the hall itself, offering screens, open rehearsals, areas for outdoor performances, and improvement to the local landscapes and green spaces. Significantly, the organization should acquire small, ―satellite spaces.‖ Funds typically allocated for traditional outreach programming, run-out concerts, chamber music series, and children‘s concerts should instead be directed at sustaining these satellite spaces. These smaller, community-focused spaces would operate as sites for education programming, chamber music, and community events. There should be simultaneous performances, collaborations, webcasts to help strengthen and expand the organization‘s network. Performers should become an integral part of the programming, educational initiatives, and even administrative functions of the satellite spaces. Not only will this cultivate creativity and innovation from within the organization, it will create a path to direct community engagement. Moreover, it has the potential to increase productivity: one large organization, comprised of salaried performers who are not
utilized in all programs, would be capable of giving multiple performances in the course of one day or evening. The direct involvement of performers in artistic and administrative decisions, and even responsibilities typically reserved for separate staff such as ticket-taking and ushering, will help increase productivity and empower internal creativity. It will also help to create a direct link to the community and personalize the experience for patrons. Today, arts organizations of all shapes and sizes—from the smallest grassroots startups to the largest institutional powerhouses—carry on in, at best, hopeful uncertainty. We can make a seemingly endless list of external factors that are to blame for arts organizations‘ woes: some might look to the devastating effect that No Child Left Behind had on arts programs in public schools; others may cite over-specialization in conservatories and music schools; others, more economically minded, may blame the recession combined with the deficit-inducing effects of the cost disease and substitution effect. The reality is that there are currently many more reasons for failure in the arts than there are suggestion for success. It is desperately clear that innovation—or anything other than the status-quo—is needed to help organizations carry on with some certainty of a prosperous future. In her book Cultures and Societies in a Changing World, sociologist Wendy Griswold summarizes a trio of leading scholars to suggest a link between social unrest and cultural innovation. ―What causes a burst of cultural innovation?‖ she posits. ―Unsettled times,‖ says sociologist Ann Swidler. A ―disturbance in the moral order,‖ says Robert Wuthnow. A loosening up of the dominant ideology, says Marxian critic Raymond Williams. ―The common point they make,‖ she writes, ―seems that under certain conditions—massive demographic shift, war, or sudden economic change—the old rules, cultural and social, no longer apply.40 Performing arts organizations today are affected both by so-called direct factors—including cuts
in arts education, competition from other creative industries, institutional Darwinism, the cost disease—as well as seemingly indirect ones—demographic changes, renewed urbanism, controversial wars and political leaders, a deep recession, changes to family structure and workplace norms, and so on. While we can debate on end whether or not art itself can/should/does reflect society, an arts organization, in order to be even marginally successful, must reflect society. I am not suggesting through this thesis that the solution to ―save the arts‖ exists solely in an organization‘s willingness to create an interesting configuration of bricks and mortar, add a few more windows, or choose a more centralized location. In fact, I am not so sure that the arts themselves need a savior, for it seems certain that artists today are achieving and producing at extraordinary levels. What seems apparent, however, is an urgent need to incorporate performing arts organizations into society in a manner that is both culturally relevant and socially conscious. It should be of great relief to artists and arts enthusiasts that doing this in no way demands artistic sacrifice or thwarted creativity; what it does involve is a more thorough understanding of how all the various aspects of an arts organization come together to influence public perceptions. In his 2006 graduation address at the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music, Alex Ross, music critic for the New Yorker, MacArthur Fellowship recipient, and celebrated author of two books, asked that very enigmatic question, ―What is the value of the arts to society?‖ ―When you are with someone who gets it,‖ he said, ―you simply nod and smile. The trick is putting that glow into words, in communicating to other people why it is so extraordinary.‖41 Certainly for Ross, as a writer of music, the trick of putting the glow into words, quite literally, is a daily necessity for him, as well as a rewarding challenge. But for most,
Ross, Alex. ―Convocation Speech: Northwestern University Bienen School of Music,‖ June 2006
the performing arts need to be understood experientially; then, the arts experience can be augmented with a combined theoretical, historical, and social understanding of art. Perhaps more than anything else, arts organizations of today require an understanding of their public‘s experiential needs and expectations, and an understanding of how these needs adapt in accordance with greater societal changes. The building itself, and all its constituent parts— performance halls, outdoor benches, classrooms, signs, restrooms, and so on—has a remarkable influence on our perceptions about an individual art organization and, more broadly, on the role of the arts in society. The use, and creative reuse of physical space, will have a remarkable impact on an arts organization‘s ability to prosper in an increasingly competitive creative economy. Organizations that can successful combine an innovative, socially-conscious artistic mission, with a strategic and complementary physical space, will be in the most optimal position to succeed in the 21st century.
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