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