Deciphering Culture

Archive for the ‘Arts & Community’ Category

National Endowment for the Arts Announces Research on Informal Arts Participation in Rural and Urban Areas

leave a comment »

Not surprisingly, a new report by the NEA finds that traditional arts venues are clustered in urban areas but that looking at “informal arts” offers a more comprehensive measure of arts participation.


National Endowment for the Arts Announces Research on Informal Arts Participation in Rural and Urban Areas

Announcement made during NEA Chairman’s Art Works Visit to Chelsea, Michigan

March 22, 2010

"" "" Contact:
Liz Stark
202-682-5744
starke@arts.gov

Washington, DC – Any serious reckoning of how Americans participate in arts and cultural activities must account for demographic and geographic diversity. Prior National Endowment for the Arts publications, including the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, already have examined the age, race/ethnicity, gender, and education and income status of arts-goers. Another way to understand arts participation is by asking where it takes place. Come as You Are: Informal Arts Participation in Urban and Rural Communities is the NEA’s first research publication in several years to examine the “informal arts” — such as playing a musical instrument, attending an art event at a place of worship, or visiting a craft fair. This finding is part of new research from the NEA, announced today during a visit by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman to Chelsea, Michigan, as part of the NEA’s Art Works Tour. The publication provides an analysis of arts participation in rural and urban areas.

Come as You Are: Informal Arts Participation in Urban and Rural Communities is available in print and pdf on the website.

National Endowment for the Arts Announces Research on Informal Arts Participation in Rural and Urban Areas.

Written by Jeffrey Callen

March 25, 2010 at 10:10 am

Posted in Arts & Community

Tagged with

Has the construction of “Creative Cities” exacerbated economic disparities?

leave a comment »

An important article from the Community Arts Network that raises questions regarding the actual effects of the UNESCO sponsored effort to transform 19 middle-tier cities into Creative Cities to gain global standing. The same questions apply to other communities trying to develop reputations as creative centers.

Creative City Fever: The 2010 City, Culture and Society Conference, Munich

By Tom Borrup

Singapore skyline at night

“The built city is the most complicated cultural artefact humankind has invented,” wrote Phil Wood and Charles Landry in “The Intercultural City.” And as such, cities cannot be understood from any one vantage point or through any one academic lens. A small but significant conference in Munich, Germany, in late February 2010 brought a dozen of these lenses into one room and raised a number of timely questions relevant to all of us concerned with cities, culture and social equity.

The Creative Cities movement has spread across the globe during the past decade. Since 2004, UNESCO has promoted a Creative Cities Network highlighting cultural diversity, heritage and the unique products of urban centers. Nineteen current member cities, mostly second-tier cities, compete for the gold in literature, film, music, craft and folk arts, design, media arts and gastronomy. Corporate media outlets, meanwhile, focus on the dominance of cities and their industrial, technical, medical or financial titles. Titans such as London, Hong Kong, New York, Tokyo, Singapore and Beijing compete for dominance in global finance and business acumen. Meanwhile creative-economy guru Richard Florida has turned the spotlight toward cities’ hip factor, their ability to wrestle for the top talent needed to power these 21st Century empires.

Does the Creative Economy or status as Creative City that so many North American, European and capitalist Asian cities aspire to, widen or narrow economic disparities? Is the idea of the Creative City more than the latest tourism marketing or corporate recruitment strategy? Is it an opportune rationale for repositioning investment, or a smokescreen obscuring issues of social justice, environmental sustainability and real inclusion for all people? Will Creative City Fever soon be replaced with a passion to be the Sustainable City, the Slow City, the Bio City, the Just City or just the Next Great City? (to read the rest click here)

Written by Jeffrey Callen

March 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Gentrification and the loss of music venues

leave a comment »

Reposted from History is made at night: the politics of dancing and musicking

Monday, March 08, 2010

Freddy’s: a Brooklyn bar facing demolition

If one threat to music venues is over-regulation through increasingly onerous licensing laws, another is gentrification. As land and property values rise, spaces of conviviality (pubs, bars, clubs) are often swept away by developers to be replaced by upmarket residential and retail buidings. In London, the clearest example is The Foundry in Shoreditch, facing demolition to make way for a hotel.

City of Strangers notes a similar case from New York, where Freddy’s Bar in Brooklyn is facing demolition to make way for the huge Atlantic Yards Development. City of Strangers ‘started hanging out in the very late 90’s, when I still lived in Fort Greene. It was nice having a good bar in walking distance. In those pre-hipster days, there weren’t many bars in Brooklyn with found video loops broadcast on a TV over the bar, or that played the whole Velvet’s Banana album or the Ramones or 80’s British punk. The back room featured everything from hardcore to experimental jazz’.

If the developers get their way, 16 high rise buildings will soon replace not only Freddy’s but a whole neighbourhood, including many pesky low rise buildings with controlled rents. Freddy’s patrons – some pictured below –have threatened to chain themselves to the bar to block its eviction.
History is made at night: Freddy’s: a Brooklyn bar facing demoltion

An urban neighborhood tells its own stories

with one comment

Over the last thirty years, the Iron Triangle neighborhood in Richmond, California has gained a reputation as one of the most distressed and dangerous urban neighborhoods in the U.S. One of the bright spots in the Iron Triangle has been the East Bay Center for Performing Arts. The East Bay Center has embarked upon the Iron Triangle Legacy Project through which more than 250 of the residents and artists are exploring their own culture, history and vision for the future through public performance works — music, theater, community gardens, photography…

Today, the Community Arts Networks posted an article by Jordan Simmons, artistic director of the East Bay Center, talking about this exciting project:

My Iron Tri-Angel: An Urban Neighborhood Seeks To Tell Its Own Story

By Jordan Simmons

My iron tri-angel,
You have with your damaged wings swept the white chalk from where
Syetha’s body’s outline lay quickly sketched on the pavement.
And whenever she laughs now, all the tears of the saints
Are close by. Still, what did she leave us?
I hit the spring-board and somersault up to the basketball net, legs wide
Open, and facing down before I dunk, I pray:
Little girls everywhere, little sisters everywhere,
Be careful when you cross the street.
Be careful when they shoot.
Be careful.

—From “My Iron Tri Angel” a new work-in-progress of the
Iron Triangle Theater Company, Richmond, California

“Just because you’re poor, it doesn’t mean you’re spiritually dead. Art comes from within. Soul: sometimes we lose touch of it in day-to-day struggle. We can help people come back to themselves. It is the easiest way to express that one is alive. When you create a piece, something that people can relate to or react to, it acknowledges that you are alive. “

— Anthony Allen, resident of Richmond’s
Iron Triangle Neighborhood

Here is an introduction to the Iron Triangle Legacy Project, a collective work led by East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and a ten-member advisory committee of neighborhood residents and activists. The work of the project is to tell the story of Richmond’s Iron Triangle, a neighborhood whose tale has been told by others in the media often enough, and deserves to be told by its own residents. The arts play an important part in the telling of this tale, and in the crafting of the project.

The Iron Triangle is a neighborhood in Richmond, California, of about 18,000 residents. Richmond’s overall population of 110,00 is rich in culture and heritage, and yet it has suffered from disproportionate urban blight and economic depression since its industrial heyday as a WWII shipyard, loomed over by one of the largest oil refineries on the West Coast and divided by railroad lines — hence the “iron triangle.” In 2004, both the local school district and the city made national news with their near bankruptcy. Since then, local public schools are regularly threatened with closure for failing to meet minimal national and/or state standards. “The Triangle,” as it is commonly referred to in Richmond, once a vibrant immigrant portal, is now a historical icon, marking the post-WWII migration of southern African Americans to the West Coast (many finding work in the Kaiser shipyards between 1941 and 1944); a destination neighborhood for California’s Mexican-American newcomers since the 1960s, and, since the 1980s, for refugees from the Southeast Asia Indo-China conflicts, especially from Laos. (to read more go to CAN)

For more info. on the Iron Triangle Legacy Project click the photograph..

Written by Jeffrey Callen

February 11, 2010 at 11:23 am

Dancing in the kitchen (from History is made at night)

leave a comment »

Nice little photo piece from the History is Made at Night (the politics of dancing) blog. As anyone who’s been to a house party knows, the communal hub / party center is the kitchen.

Monday, February 01, 2010

In the kitchen at parties

I like the places where the night does not mean an end
where smiles break free and surprise is your friend
and dancing goes on in the kitchen until dawn
to my favorite song that has no end
(Bonny Prince Billy, You remind me of something)

Written by Jeffrey Callen

February 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Chapter 3: Art is a temporary condition (Wild Caught Stories @ Center for the Study of Art & Community)

leave a comment »

Milenko Matanovic

Insightful piece from last spring by Milenko Matanovic expressing a utopian vision of art as a desirable component 0f everyday life. Matanovic asserts that ” in the future we must create communities and cities that are themselves works of art, rather than being satisfied with ugly and wasteful communities with token artworks that show our repentance, asking absolution for our sins. In this future, like the traditional Balinese people, we may have fewer cultural institutions because artistic quality will be expected of everyone and deposited, with care, into more and more things until everything is art. Excellence will be the norm.” (To read the entire article or other thought-provoking chapters go to Wild Caught Stories).

Written by Jeffrey Callen

February 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm

The role of creativity, culture, and the arts in transforming cities and nations

leave a comment »

On Monday January 25, The Cultural Agents Initiative presented a dialogue of Mayor Antanas Mockus of Bogotá, Colombia, and Mayor Edi Rama of Tirana, Albania on the role of creativity, culture, and the arts in transforming cities and nations.

(From Community Arts Network): Mockus (mayor 1996-1997; 2001-2003), a philosopher, became known for springing surprising, humorous and tranformative initiatives on the popoulace of Bogota involving grand gestures. Painter Edi Rama, mayor since 2000, is known for his Clean and Green project in Tirana, resulting in 96,700 square meters of green land in the city, the planting of nearly 1,800 trees and the painting of old buildings in what has come to be known as Edi Rama colors (very bright yellow, green, violet).

For more info. check out:

Video of event

“Art can help urbanization speakers say” — The Daily Free Press

“Academic turns city into a social experiment” — Harvard University Gazette (2004)

One of former Bogotá Mayor Antanas Mockus' many inspired strategies for changing the mindset - and, eventually, the behavior - of the city's unruly inhabitants was the installation of traffic mimes on street corners. (Photo courtesy of El Tiempo)

Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana” (World Mayor website announcement of the World Mayor for 2008):

The journey of Edi Rama, winner of the City Mayors World Mayor 2004 contest, to the mayor’s office in Tirana, the capital of Albania, arguably began in what most would call a raw and rough-and-tumble way inasmuch as, even though he, while still teaching at the Albanian Academy of Arts – admittedly a site of political ferment after the termination of communism and the birth of the Democratic Party in 1990 – had quickly left what he considered a bogus movement, and was doing no more than criticize both the socialists and the democrats in print, someone showed how seriously they took that by lying in wait for him in front of his home and beating him nearly to death. Mr. Rama is in no doubt that his attackers that night in 1997 were sent by then-president Sali Berisha…. (to read more, click the link).

Written by Jeffrey Callen

January 30, 2010 at 5:48 pm

%d bloggers like this: