Creative Exchange: Springboard for the Arts

10151886_331289623662933_8184189192740620741_nYou can only spend so long being #clevelandfamous before World Domination is inevitable (not a total stretch of the truth, you know: people on the other side of the world DO subscribe to Creative Exchanges‘ e-blasts!).

Thanks to Northeast Shores Development Corporation – aka the most supportive community organization a resident artist could EVER hope to live in – I was interviewed in early May 2015 for three interactive public art projects  – Phone Gallery, LOCKS of Love, from Waterloo, and YARN n YOGA’s spawn “YARN n YESTERDAY” – that I created in the Waterloo Arts District in the North Collinwood east side neighborhood of Cleveland. The below article, published in June 2015 highlights the long year of 2014 when this main corridor was all but turned upside down with construction of a new streetscape.

“What every street, every community needs to keep in mind is that diversity is key,” Lukacsy says. “If you have an over-saturation of art galleries and arts businesses, you need other businesses around to keep the street active 24/7, not just when there are special events like art walks.”

photo 1-2Now that we have cohesive appearing planters, wide sidewalks and an outdoor stage (!!!) and new business venturing in, the days of closed streets and orange barrels feel forever and a day ago. But it’s no small miracle that not one, not two, but nearly three dozen businesses successfully continued their operations during the massive project… because of ART!

Read all about the inspiration from Irrigate, a creative placemaking project in Saint Paul, MN, which confronted a similar dilemma years before Waterloo and where the press for “the affected area was overwhelmingly positive, a sea change from the wave of bad press that came with the difficulties of being in the construction zone.”

“It required me to … be a salesperson for the arts at large and what we could do together.” But the effort was worth it, Lukacsy adds: “There might be some friction, but if it’s a project you think will be good for the neighborhood, stick to it and in the end you’ll see the results are good for everyone.”

Untitled-5From the article: “Northeast Shores decided to mimic Irrigate’s model of encouraging artists to work with local merchants, helping them find creative ways to attract business throughout the construction. In November 2013, the organization launched the Rising Vibrancy Program, a series of grants for partnerships between Waterloo business owners and artists. The project received funding from the Kresge Foundation and from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, a grantmaker funded by Cuyahoga County’s cigarette tax.

Projects like Rising Vibrancy continue to demonstrate how much the arts can do, even in small-scale, fairly low-cost collaborations. Of the 52 projects, 47 of them plan to continue even without ongoing funding. Every merchant who participated in the program made it through the construction without having to close up shop. And even a relatively modest $2,270 per project has changed the look and character of the street and increased visits to the Waterloo Arts & Entertainment District.”

10265519_1415777005361791_2873139750997856479_oREAD THE FULL ARTICLE HERE:  http://www.springboardexchange.org/features/howartistshelpedkeep33businessesopenincleveland.aspx

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