Roosevelt Row Arts District (RoRo), in the urban core of downtown Phoenix, is a neighborhood on the rise, with unique galleries, restaurants, and shops. A $150,000 grant announced today from ArtPlace will bring an infusion of art and design to the area, defining the neighborhood as a destination for locals and visitors alike.
An “A.R.T.S. Village” – consisting of shipping container studios, performance space, and a new urban market garden – is central to the plan, which also includes hiring a design team to create a vision for the future development of the district and new streetscape design guidelines to visually define the area.
ArtPlace is a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. To date, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts.
“Across the country, cities and towns are using the arts to help shape their social, physical, and economic characters,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “The arts are a part of everyday life, and I am thrilled to see yet another example of an arts organization working with city, state, and federal offices to help strengthen and revitalize their communities through the arts. It is wonderful that ArtPlace and its funders have recognized this work and invested in it so generously.”
“With this ArtPlace grant, Roosevelt Row is able carry forth projects that help define our community as a vibrant arts district,” said Cindy Dach, Acting Director of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation. “Since 2001, RoRo has grown to more than 3 dozen shops, galleries and restaurants and has become a real destination. Our work has always been implemented by a small group of dedicated people and volunteers with a vision for a more liveable community. This grant brings us one step closer to turning visions into realities.”
In the early 1940s, numerous businesses were established along Roosevelt Street, the heart of the Roosevelt Row Arts District. In the 1970s, parts of the area were re-zoned, eventually resulting in a downturn in the neighborhood that lasted until the late 1990s. The blighted area was attractive to artists because the boarded-up buildings and former crack houses were affordable for studio and gallery space. The arts were a major factor in the revitalization of the area and crime rates plummeted as more people began to venture into the area to experience the cultural vibrancy.
ArtPlace received almost 2,200 letters of inquiry from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available for grants in this cycle. Inquiries came from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 47 projects selected each take a unique and locally-focused approach to creative placemaking, from the creation of a Jazz and Heritage Center in New Orleans’ historic Tremé neighborhood to generate vibrancy and economic growth for the local community to ARTSIPELAGO, a comprehensive revitalization strategy that combines a number of unconnected arts and cultural initiatives in Eastport, Maine for greater effect.
“These projects all exemplify the best in creative placemaking,” explained ArtPlace’s Carol Coletta. “They demonstrate a deep understanding of how smart investments in art, design, and culture as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people.”
In September, ArtPlace will release a new set of metrics to measure changes over time in the people, activity, and real estate value in the communities where ArtPlace has invested with its grants.
Participating foundations include Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Robina Foundation, and an anonymous donor. In addition to the NEA, federal partners are the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Education and Transportation, along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. ArtPlace is also supported by a $12 million loan fund capitalized by six major financial institutions and managed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. Participating institutions are Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife, and Morgan Stanley