Friday, July 3, 2009

Beyond Rural: Arts and Community Development in Small Towns

Bellows Falls, Vermont is a rural community of 3,200 people. It was a traditional textile mill town that for decades suffered the boom/bust cycles inherent in this industry. But the town still held on to the old economic development thinking of, "we need to open another mill in the community to provide jobs."
Finally, as textile production moved overseas and the town fell into a depression, Bellows Falls had to change their way of thinking and be creative about economic development. That's where New York City artist Robert McBride enters the picture.
In 2000, McBride came to Bellows Falls to visit a friend to get away from New York and ended up staying, eventually buying a house there in 2002. The Victorian era home he purchased was affordable and provided Robert with ample studio and living space.
He got involved, went to town council meetings and began a series of efforts to spearhead the community and create a grassroots movement to work toward a solution. Through dialogue and town meetings a plan for a public art program evolved. The ideas were presented to the town council and were approved.
The plan consisted of creating a non-profit group to get grant funding, develop affordable live/work spaces for artists in a block of rehabbed industrial buildings and the development of derelict mill property into artistic venues and a museum. Eventually coffee shops, cafes and specialty stores moved in, revitalizing the community once doomed to depression.
The result: Bellows Falls residents are united in a common goal, artist live/work spaces have brought a new vibrancy to the community and tourism has turned their town around.

Nancy Gray to Address TEDC Statewide Conference

Nancy Gray will present "Economic Development and the Creative Community" at the TEDC Statewide Conference in San Antonio, September 29 - October 1.
The presentation will focus on the role of public art programs in "reinventing" communities and the benefits to economic development. The new economy offers tremendous challenges and opportunities for cities to compete; attract creative talent and new businesses as well as drive tourism and economic development. Public art programs are a great way to create a real sense of place, unify a community and accomplish your economic development goals.
If you're thinking about implementing a Public Art Program in your community that will benefit your economic development, give me a call at 512.556.6997. I have the expertise and knowledge that can assist you in seeing your vision become a reality.
I hope to see you all at the conference!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Public Art Fuels Tourism

In difficult economic times, cities often look for creative ways to bring people to their downtowns, and more cities are turning to public art to do that.

At its annual conference last month, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural affairs addressed the issue of culture and tourism. Gayle Lipsig led a session at the conference on how public art can be a tourism draw and, consequently, an economic stimulus. Lipsig also chairs an established public art program in Saugatuck, called Art Round Town.

"You need to have a plan, a strategy that you pre-sell. You just can't come in and say I'm doing it and whether you like it or not," Lipsig said.

Lipsig says cities go wrong when they don't ask themselves what they're trying to accomplish by commissioning a painting on an overpass or a sculpture in a downtown city square.

"In an economically healthy city, there's no easy way to tell if public art is acting as an economic stimulus, says Lipsig, "but, in communities struggling economically, it's more obvious when new art galleries and restaurants spring up."

If you're thinking about a Public Art Program in your community that will benefit your economic development plan, give me a call at 512.556.6997. I have the expertise and knowledge that can assist you in seeing your vision become a reality.

Article reprinted courtesy of Michigan Radio Arts and Culture, May 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Creation of Derivative Works

In answer to a question in one of my classes about creating "derivative work", I have included the following:

A “derivative work,” that is, a work that is based on (or derived from) one or
more already existing works, is copyrightable if it includes ..... Read the following file by the US Office of Copyright

Monday, December 22, 2008

Creative Cities and the New Economy

During the 20th century America's economy developed around key characteristics that drove growth - efficiency, productivity and flexibility. Today, as we move into the New Economy, creativity becomes the central driving force.

New technology and the internet have accelerated change and has put creativity at the center of success for the public and private sector as we undergo this transition. Innovators in business have sped up the process of introducing new ideas and more efficient ways of doing business in the economy. As with the case in business, success for cities will depend on creativity. "Creative Cities" will be home to innovative businesses and organizations and the individuals who direct and propel them. Ideas and innovation are capital in the new economy.

Charles Landry, Author of The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators, writes, “Cities have one crucial resource – their people. Human cleverness, desires, motivations, imagination and creativity are replacing location, natural resources and market access as urban resources. The creativity of those who live in and run cities will determine future success.”

Urban Assets in the New Economy
Without a doubt today’s economy differs from the old manufacturing-centered economy. Today’s economy is focuses on a world view. Landry further states; “The maturing of the globalized network of cities and its connected competitive drive has led cities to change dramatically over the last 20 years. In this new global dynamic, all cities, small and large, need to reassess and rethink their role and positioning – regionally, nationally and globally. This challenges cities to think their opportunities and problems with ingenuity and to review their assets – or lack of them. ”

Today, ingenious, creative cities want to move up the value chain and become a central hub of wealth creation by exporting, yet controlling from a distance, low-cost activities while attracting high-value ones to themselves. These activities include research and knowledge creation centers, headquarters, advanced manufacturing or cultural and artistic creativity.

Ambitious cities succeed when they blend the dynamics of attraction, retention, resources and talent. These cities are moving from an “urban engineering” approach to urban development, to a ‘creative city-making’ approach.

Creating an Attractive Place to Live and Work
Core characteristics of communities, including density and diversity, have become attractive to young workers, “the creative class”, and to older baby boomers in the revitalization of cities. These characteristics include:
Magnets for visitors- Cities are taking advantage of the tremendous expansion in the areas of tourism and recreation. Today, successful communities are leveraging urban and cultural / artistic amenities to create exciting destinations.
Regeneration of the economic base – Many cities have realized that their choices are not limited to high tech or low tech, new tech or old tech. Many have worked to innovate and produce improvements in productivity incorporating advanced technology in older business sectors.
Poised to seize new economic opportunities – Not limited to well known areas such as Silicon Valley, cities around the country are developing high tech sectors by attracting companies and stimulating the creation of new ones. They are leveraging their strengths in research and educational institutions and incubators to support the birth and growth of innovative enterprises.

Cities have one crucial resource – their people. Human innovation, imagination and creativity are replacing location, resources and market access as urban resources. Successful cities seem to have similar attributes in common – visionary individuals, creative organizations and a political culture sharing clarity of purpose.

A strong cultural perspective is crucial to the success of urban planning and one that can shape urban change alone is unites divisions across disciplines, institutions, and public, private and voluntary sectors.

Creativity is the new currency. Entertainment, culture, and art contribute to the reinvention of the community, creating a destination location and a sense of place for its citizens and the “new economy” companies that are relocating to creative cities.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sharing a Vision for the Future of Your Community

Now, more than ever, art is becoming a dominant force in our lives. It inspires us in our world. Art brings a fresh outlook to the individual and affirms the goodness in our lives and communities. I believe that art not only contributes significantly to the beauty and vitality

“America’s nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $166.2 billion in economic activity every year.*”

of a community but its economy as well. Public arts programs bring a community together, provide a tourist destination and is an engine to economic development.
My experience as an artist, community leader and business woman places me in a unique position to assist you in your efforts to develop and maintain a public arts program.
In 2005 I founded LAFTA, the Lampasas Association for the Arts of which I’m president. My vision of a sculpture garden for the city was realized then and I continue to work with the city and county to provide public arts programs to assist in the economic development of our region.
I’ll assist you with your goal of creating a community that arts visitors want to come back to over and again because of its vitality, making your city a magnet for a more “creative class” of workers and the corporations that employ them. Studies show that communities that take this new and bold approach to repositioning arts and culture as an economic engine are successful.

*Information courtesy of Arts & Economic Prosperity III,
by Americans for the Arts Foundation

Is Your City a Creative Community?

A powerful new movement is going on in America's cities as we redefine our personal and spiritual values and the communities in which we live. In today's business, political, social and creative environment a quantum change is occurring. Forward-thinking communities realize the importance of public art and culture's contributions to not only its citizens but its economic well-being too.