Sharing, Building, Leading

What does the passion for local art look like on a national scale? What if the sharing economy valued sharing?          What can we do to connect people to resources that support their creative ideas? These are the questions that have driven the development of Creative Exchange as a national hub for the local arts movement. In the 16 months since the launch of Creative Exchange, we’ve…

When the Place Is Already Made: Lessons from a Folklife Project

This is the fourth story about work coming from the PLACE (People, Land, Arts, Culture and Engagement) Initiative of the Tucson Pima Arts Council. Read Executive Director Roberto Bedoya’s introduction here, a profile of Stories That Soar! here, and a profile of Finding Voice here. Field Note, June 13, 2012: This morning the students chuckle, get distracted, make faces at one another, taunt,…

The People’s Creative Toolkit

Your story has to be told, and a lot of people have to listen. But how do you tell your story to get them to listen? And who is “them,” anyway? These are questions we have to address with every important story, every labor campaign, every grassroots effort to change the way we work and live for the better. And the solutions are different every time. However, there are creative and strategic tools…

The ROOTS of Transformation: A Place of Action Alongside Community

Alternate ROOTS is a 39-year-old Southern based arts organization that supports artists working at the intersection of arts and activism. The organization was founded at the Highlander Center in 1976. The organization is artist led and artist centered, and embraces all forms of diversity in its membership and services. Together the artists in community with the institutional partnership of ROOTS…

Kyle Rosfeld builds boots the cowboy way

Kyle Rosfeld wears a cowboy hat and cowboy shoes. His friendly face sports a neatly-trimmed mustache that is reminiscent of men's turn-of-the-century shaving ads – the 19th century, that is. He works on turn-of-the-century equipment – again, 19th – in his workshop where he produces hand-made custom leather products. He is, by all urban millennial standards, a "hipster," but there is nothing twee…

Theatre of the Oppressed NYC uses theatre to address social justice issues

This is the second in a series of artist profiles featuring the work of artists around social justice, policing, and activism. The first, on Detroit's Allied Media Conference, can be read here. Katy Rubin grew up in what she describes as an "arts and social justice" family where she was exposed to the idea of using art for social justice practice at a very early age. Growing up in that…

No One Can Do It Alone: How Working with “Disability” Enabled a New Artistic Ability and Approach

This is the first story about work coming from the PLACE (People, Land, Arts, Culture and Engagement) Initiative of the Tucson Pima Arts Council. Read Executive Director Roberto Bedoya’s introduction here. Stories that Soar! is a theater company, composed of multi-talented adult performers who invite young people to write stories about whatever their imaginative minds can come up with. The…

Sam Rodriguez explores cultural hybridity and identity through a plurality of mediums

San Jose artist Sam Rodriguez doesn't fit neatly into any one particular category. You can't look at his body of work and say, "Oh, he's a graffiti muralist," or "Oh, he makes mixed-media pop art," or even, "Oh, he's an editorial illustrator." Because he does all of those things (and more). For Rodriguez, the variety of his art reflects the hybridity of his identity; and, by extension, the…

Francis Grunow leads the charge for Detroit to “blame it on the Nain”

It's an idea that was born over beers, as the greatest ideas so often are. Somewhere in the cold winter months between 2009 and 2010, Francis Grunow took a break from writing a paper for law school and got into a conversation with Joe Uhl, musing on the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans. Seeing that Detroit and New Orleans are both French cities in origin, Grunow and Uhl started to wonder what a…

Valuing Artists, In All Senses of the Word

You may have read that the rise of the creative entrepreneur is leading to the death of the artist. That’s not our experience. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with people in communities all across the United States, and there are artists everywhere. There are artists who call themselves artists, artists who haven’t yet claimed that word, artists creating work in studios, artists who…

Open-air Social Dance Series

"How come there is no public dancing in Chicago?" That was the question in 1997 that prompted the creation of the first SummerDance, an outdoor, public, free dance series in parks in Chicago. Since that first year with 150 participants, SummerDance has grown to a 3 month event, with 44 public dances and of upwards of 3,500 participants on any given evening. Dancing is a great attractor - it…

Recovering the Story: How Arts Contribute to Emergency Recovery and Resilience

How does storytelling help individuals and communities overcome disaster? East Coast Hurricane Sandy survivors became storytellers through Sandy Storyline, a participatory documentary that collects and shares the impact of Hurricane Sandy on communities. In Chicago, Clemantine Wamariya became a storyteller and human rights advocate after she escaped from the Rwandan Genocide at the age of six.…

Hunter Franks: Reflections on the 2014 Creative Interventions Tour

“My parents said if you have a boy he will wrestle; that is what he will do,” Lisa remarked, referring to her son Martaz. I had just met Martaz and Lisa a week before, as they participated in my Neighborhood Postcard Project in Detroit. They shared what they love about their Detroit neighborhood, Lindale Gardens, on postcards that were then mailed to random residents in Grosse Pointe, an affluent…

January Creative Exchange Hangout Recap & Video

On January 28th, Springboard for the Arts Director of Movement Building Carl Atiya Swanson sat down to chat with Director of Artist Services Andy Sturdevant about the Community Supported Art program. Created in partnership with Springboard and mnartists.org, CSA just celebrated its 5th year, and with a toolkit, has been replicated in over 40 communities across North America. Community…

November Creative Exchange Hangout Recap & Video

On November 20th, just before Thanksgiving, we hosted a conversation with the creators of two of the community-oriented toolkits hosted on Creative Exchange. Jun-Li Wang, Artist Community Organizer at Springboard for the Arts, spoke about Irrigate, artist-led creative placemaking, and Andrew Tran of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota joined us to talk…

How can public art be used to give new life to aging infrastructure and build connections?

These stories are brought to you by a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the NEA’s Our Town program. Like so many American cities, Greensboro, North Carolina is in the midst of reconsidering its downtown area. As a central business district, not only does Greensboro’s city center serve as an engine of employment, but, along with several historic sites, cultural…

Every Artist Insured – A Goal and an Opportunity

If you’re a working artist, you know the story, maybe have even had it happen to you. You’ve taken part in or attended benefit concerts when a community member has had a medical emergency. You’ve donated art to sales in order to help pay down doctor’s bills. Maybe you’ve waited out sickness or injury instead of going to get checked up. Why? Because as self-employed people with variable and…

How can students’ ideas about art come to inspire an entire city neighborhood?

These stories are brought to you by a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the NEA’s Our Town program. With over 160,000 residents, Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city, and one that is continuing to expand. Drawing people to its growing economy, Sioux Falls is sometimes referred to as the Ellis Island of the Plains. Users of Meldrum Park reflect this diversity. As…

Erik Howard brings the corner and the community together in unlikely ways through The Alley Project

To read the abundance of news coverage coming out of Detroit over the last few years heralding the downtrodden city as a hotbed of creativity and innovation, attracting young creatives and start-up entrepreneurs from all over the country – the Detroit-is-what-you-make-of-it, "blank slate" narrative – one might be tempted to think that there was no such social activism or creative energy there…

Denver’s itchy-O Marching Band: Chaos of the best variety

Imagine this: It's late on a weekend night and Denverites are out and about. Maybe they're hanging out at the latest hipster bar along South Broadway or enjoying an adult beverage at a popular downtown watering hole. There's a rumble in the crowd and the mood shifts. The commotion builds and, before anyone has time to question anything, they're all are dancing to the driving rhythm of a drum…

The Nix Bros. are weaving web of laughter in Denver

By their own admission, and even though they're three years apart in age, brothers Evan and Adam Nix -- the imaginative forces behind Nix Bros. Films -- became movie nerds at roughly the same time. "That was definitely something we bonded over as kids," says Evan, the older of the two siblings. "Adam is extraordinarily smart and graduated early, so when we ended up in college together -- and…

It takes a ballet company: Thomas Armour Youth Ballet teaches life skills along with dance

The Thomas Armour Youth Ballet (TAYB) was established over 60 years ago in 1951 by renowned classical ballet dancer, Thomas Armour. Originally called the Miami Ballet, the for-profit school and nonprofit performing company changed its name in 1996 to honor the founder and reduce the confusion between their organization and the much newer Miami City Ballet. In 1988 Ruth Wiesen, now director of…

Artists as community leaders

What a journey! Three years ago, Springboard for the Arts launched Irrigate, a creative placemaking project in partnership with the City of Saint Paul and the Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation. In the face of disruption from a city-wide construction project, we launched it on a hunch, after a little pilot run that gave us the confidence that we could pull it off. We believed if we…

IRRIGATE: Artist-Led Community Development

Cities and neighborhoods need creative thinking. Particularly when communities are facing big challenges, artists see opportunity in challenge, beauty in chaos and have practical skills and creative thinking that can draw people and attention to an issue or a place. Irrigate was a 3-year creative placemaking initiative designed in response to the disruption of a major construction project…

Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert are the power duo behind Power House Productions

The first time most people heard the words "Power" and "House" attached to the names Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert was in fall of September 2008, when the artist/architect married couple wrote a piece in the Metro Times about their neighborhood sustainability project on a street corner just north of the Hamtramck border.   In retrospect seen as their Power House manifesto, Cope and…

Hunter Franks leads simple steps of creativity to inspire big change in Akron

This story was originally published on Knight Blog here. Artist Hunter Franks uses people as his medium to break down barriers and make neighborhoods more neighborly. It’s simple, really. He invites people to come together – most recently in Akron, Ohio – and they create public, amateur art for the neighborhood to take part in and enjoy. Franks has taken his participatory art on a…

How planning for the arts be used strategically to augment current neighborhood planning efforts

These stories are brought to you by a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the NEA’s Our Town program. The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI), a nonprofit foundation focused on community revitalization, was in the midst of developing a land use master plan with local area residents for The Village at Market Creek in southeastern San Diego, when it was reasoned…

Creative Exchange Toolkits & Resources Hangout Recap & Video

Thursday afternoon (morning still, if you were out on the West Coast) was the first Creative Exchange Hangout – a live video conversation with the artists and creators featured on Creative Exchange. For this first conversation, we brought together three of the toolkit creators whose resources are available on the site – Nikki Hunt from Springboard for the Arts and the Artists' Health Fair, Hunter…

How the arts inspire change in Detroit

In April of 2014, Damian Woetzel and the Aspen Institute Arts Program convened a Strategy Group in Detroit. This convening brought together local and national experts: artists and leaders in arts, policy, community development and education. The group spent a thrilling morning at Spain Elementary School where Yo-Yo Ma, Damian Woetzel, Lil Buck, Aaron Dworkin and Cristina Pato conducted an…