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NRC Workshop Feature: Community Art

The following post was written by Kendall Reingold, summer intern for the Alliance for Children and Families Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building.  She is an undergraduate student who has been assisting with the planning of the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference.
Can America’s communities really “make art, not war?”  Recent research and the efforts of organizations like those presenting at the Alliance’s 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference suggest that perhaps this dream is indeed possible.
In recent years, community-based arts programs have blossomed across the nation; and not just because they’re fun.  Numerous studies have shown the importance of community-building initiatives in improving quality of life. One Harvard study even found that the degree to which communities work together toward common interests is a better indicator of the health and well-being of neighborhoods than wealth, access to healthcare, or even crime rates.  Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a link between arts programs, reduced rates of social distress, more peaceful interracial relations in urban neighborhoods, and even declines in poverty.
Local organizations have generated a diverse array of such arts programs, from spiritual art installations in parks to school theater initiatives that open a dialogue about social issues.  At this year’s Neighborhood Revitalization Conference, we have the honor of welcoming a discussion about these programs in a workshop entitled “Creative Placemaking: Arts Engagement and Agency.”  The workshop will feature four panelists: Erik Takeshita of the Twin Cities Local Initiative Support Coalition (LISC), Maria Rosario Jackson of the Kresge Foundation, Aviva Kapust of the Village of Arts and Humanities, and Faye Price of the Pillsbury House + Theatre.
Like other community arts organizations, the Village of Arts and Humanities and the Pillsbury House + Theatre are vital to their communities and have enriched them with creative outlets for residents of all ages.  However, they cannot always fund these projects alone.  Organizations like LISC and the Kresge Foundation play a crucial role in realizing community arts programs.  The growing network of support for these programs parallels the growing consensus that engagement in the arts is a key to the successful revitalization of America’s neighborhoods.
We hope you can join us for the 2014 Neighborhood Revitalization Conference!  For the latest details about the conference and these presenters, stay tuned on Twitter.  Follow the Alliance’s Center for Engagement and Neighborhood Building and keep up with conference news with the hashtag #NRC14.  We also encourage you to follow Erik Takeshita, Aviva Kapust, the Kresge Foundation, and the Pillsbury House + Theatre for updates on their organizations and the work they are doing to strengthen their communities through creativity.

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Blog | by Dr. Radut