Cultural institutions like museums used to be seen exclusively as luxuries for the wealthy, but community art projects have become a great way to revive neighborhoods through creativity. But public galleries, community art organizations, performing art institutions, arts councils and public arts organizations have a proven ability to support & celebrate traditionally divested communities.
This happens when community art projects or cultural events succeed in uniting community members into a collective whole through a sense of dignity & pride. Imagining new community improvement projects, or even personal aspirations, even more community members become inspired to create.
The story of Providence, Rhode Island, is a telling example. Providence is built at the convergence of two rivers, but in the 1950’s, the city paved over the polluted downtown waterways with roads, rail yards and parking lots. Then in the 1990’s, the city reversed course and uncovered the rivers, cleaned up the area, and lined the waterways with public promenades and pedestrian-friendly parks.
The city then launched a downtown public art event called WaterFire. Nearly a mile of downtown Providence was transformed into a festival of music, artistic performances, boat parties, and ceremonial bonfires.
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