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Artists an untapped resource for community development, expert says

April 7, 2013

This story is part of a two-part series on Lawrence's goals for creative placemaking in the city.

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Lawrence Cultural District Map ( .PDF )

A taste of the attractions to be found inside Lawrence's newly designated downtown cultural district. First Row: The Granada Theater, Lawrence Arts Center, Aimee's Coffee Shop, Second Row: Bowersock Mills and Power Company, SeedCo Studios in the Warehouse Arts District, Site of Langston Hughes' home, Row Three: The East Lawrence Waltz mural, Pachamama's, St. Luke's A.M.E. Church, Row Four: Turnhalle Building, Wonder Fair Art Gallery, Americana Music Academy.

A taste of the attractions to be found inside Lawrence's newly designated downtown cultural district. First Row: The Granada Theater, Lawrence Arts Center, Aimee's Coffee Shop, Second Row: Bowersock Mills and Power Company, SeedCo Studios in the Warehouse Arts District, Site of Langston Hughes' home, Row Three: The East Lawrence Waltz mural, Pachamama's, St. Luke's A.M.E. Church, Row Four: Turnhalle Building, Wonder Fair Art Gallery, Americana Music Academy.

Laura Zabel thinks of artists as a natural resource.

Every community has them, and they offer a unique set of skills. They’re even renewable. But sometimes their power can be difficult to harness.

Figuring out how to tap into that is what Zabel specializes in.

Zabel, a Kansas University graduate, is executive director of a Minnesota-based artist-centric economic development organization called Springboard for the Arts. She recently led a talk at the Lawrence Arts Center about creative placemaking and how communities can engage artists to increase vibrancy — the type of energy and activity that make people want to stick around.

Springboard for the Arts promotes programs that help artists make a living and help communities tap into resources that artists provide.

One example that took off in the Twin Cities and spread to about 40 other communities is Springboard’s CSA. That doesn’t stand for “community-supported agriculture;” it stands for “community-supported art.” Instead of a weekly box of fresh vegetables, subscribers to this CSA get a monthly box of original art.

“Artists have these unique skills where they often are able to see the opportunity in challenge and the beauty in chaos,” Zabel said. “We think artists are particularly well-suited to do that kind of organizing and community development work, in terms of bringing people together and helping people’s voices be heard.”

Zabel’s Arts Center talk was early on a Saturday morning. Especially in a college town, she expected the place to be deserted.

Instead, she encountered yoga-mat-toting retirees on their way to get coffee, parents bringing children to dance class and people perusing the Arts Center’s galleries — not to mention dozens of people gathered to hear what she had to say.

Lawrence is unique in its support for local artists and businesses, Zabel said, and in many ways already doing creative placemaking on its own. A boost from an ArtPlace grant would help enable the city to be a national leader, a model of how a smaller community can pull it off.

“I think it really presents some tremendous opportunities,” she said.

Comments

consumer1 1 year ago

I would also like to see something being done to ensure taxes are being paid on purchases of art. Many places diplay art, but to purchase a piece, often you have to contact the artist. This means no taxes are being paid. Yes I have purchased art, and paid the price, no mention of taxes.

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Patricia Davis 1 year ago

I think the answer to Lawrence becoming a haven for art is for people to buy their art. Support local artists. No federal funds required.

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bearded_gnome 1 year ago

this article was incredibly thin on detail, and disappointing on perspective, perhaps the subject's own perspective.
zabel's treatment of "artists" as one singular group, like a can of Spam, is incredibly sad.

looks like she choppered in here and gave a canned speech with her canned perspective that's somehow supposed to make our little burg unique, ... riiiight.

I'd feel better if this article were twice as long, and told the story of Zable recounting meeting the strengths of our own local artists and their unique strengths to do a variety of things, and not just this one thing:

“Artists have these unique skills where they often are able to see the opportunity in challenge and the beauty in chaos,” Zabel said. “We think artists are particularly well-suited to do that kind of organizing and community development work, in terms of bringing people together and helping people’s voices be heard.”

---doesn't seem like a recipe to make us stand out. seems like more of a way to pad a few wallets of out-of-town experts and make people like Merrill feel good. and by the way, I do support the arts and care deeply about them.

hmmm, guess will see.

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George_Braziller 1 year ago

The Cultural District map has several errors on it. The icons place some sites several blocks and/or on different streets than than the actual location.

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Richard Heckler 1 year ago

Phoenixville,Pennsylvania once a bustling iron town went to sleep for a awhile. Over the years became kind of a suburb of Philadelphia. The Arts has put some life in that town and money. Quite a lively spot at this moment in time.

--- From Arts to Industry: Reviving Downtowns Through Investment in the Arts. http://www.keystoneedge.com/features/artsstateeconomy0820.aspx

In fact about say three years ago this town decided to begin creating their own Arts Center based on the success with children at the Lawrence Arts Center. Anne Howard/Candi Baker and their many Associates got this jewel aka Lawrence Arts Center up and running thank you very much. Yes all three of our children have been among the lucky participants over the past 25 years.... again thank you very much.

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Richard Heckler 1 year ago

Like Lawrence the feds have plenty of money. They would rather spend our tax dollars on things like corporate welfare and not smart growth that tends to raise OUR cost of living aka raises our taxes. You know giving away large sums of tax dollars to very wealthy developers who can afford their own jet planes.

Now we may be seeing a breakthrough hopefully. Until local tax dollars are being contributed to this worthwhile endeavor I will not hold my breath. BUT I will be cheering Susan Tate no matter what. It's time Lawrence got on with this type of investment.

Arts & Economic Prosperity IV is our fourth study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry's impact on the economy. The most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted, it gives us a quantifiable economic impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences. Using findings from 182 regions representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia, an input-output economic model is able to deliver national estimates.

--- Arts and Economic Prosperity = $135.2 billion = 4.13 million full-time jobs. http://www.artsusa.org/information_services/research/services/economic_impact/005.asp

--- Information and Support Services. http://www.artsusa.org/information_services/research/reports/default.asp

--- Economic Impact of the Non Profit Arts and Culture Industry. http://www.artsusa.org/information_services/research/services/economic_impact/default.asp

Nothing like a few thousand extra bucks coming to town. That's what I say. Twice a year convert Mass street into one rocking dynamic art fair. Our arts center has been a trophy winning project for at least 20 years. A lot of hard working young children plus older local artists = gold.

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msezdsit 1 year ago

The word "development" sneaks in and you see the developers already trying to tap into it. East Lawrence is close to downtown and real estate is relatively cheap so now we have a brand new interest in the arts. Give me a break. This is not going to have a happy ending for artists.

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Kookamooka 1 year ago

If there is any federal money involved, Brownback and his men will sniff you out and demand you return the funds. Can't have federal handouts in our "pure" state.

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