Building arts in urban / underprivileged areas to expose people to more enriching activities

Submitted by More Better on Thu, 11/03/2005 - 16:00.

Please post thoughts or comments regarding building arts in urban or underprivileged communities to expose people to enriching activities

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Making Cleveland a world aerosol art capital

One thought is "Making Cleveland a world aerosol art capital", already posted to this forum - I think it is important to create value in what arts already are vibrant in urban communities - while it is important to bring arts into communities, it is very opportune to identify existing talent in a community/neighborhood... like with aerosol art... and help that art find markets.

Open Source production studios

Recent NEO boomeranger from Japan, Rob Hawkins, has mentioned a program in Brasil where they set up open source music and video production facilities in underprivileged neighborhoods and then sought out talented performers to come use the facilities to produce music and videos of their work, which then has global market potential. Imagine if that had been set-up at E.99th, a decade ago when Bone Thugs n Harmony were crafting their future Grammy winning sound, and consider there are many Bone-Thugs in NEO today just looking for a way to succeed here, or to get somewhere else where they can (in Bone's case, following Easy-E to LA). We know the talent is on our streets - all our streets - so let's start providing Free Open Source tools to help it become valuable... even if just "for the love of money".

Who is underprivileged?

When you consider the visual and cultural diversity of our urban core, versus the generally sterile environment of say Westlake, one must consider which children are underprivileged... those deprived of affluence or those deprived of diversity?

I don't believe this issue is so much one of bringing more arts and culture to underprivileged "poor" people but is one of giving those who cannot afford access to some arts greater access to the arts in their schools and the region, while driving less diverse communities to experience a broader range of the arts and culture.

We are all underprivileged in some way...


...are we not?


I would agree with the paradox that you present, that those of "privilege" could be the most culturally deprived.  Yet, it is those who have limited opportunity that suffer most the consequences of their own economic depravity, and the cultural depravity of those who have opportunities.


Perhaps efforts towards cultural exchanges between communities, where opportunity for artistic education and cultural illumination are available to all youth, might achieve some enhanced creativity on all sides?

Vicki Boatright "BZTAT"

many interesting aspects

There are several issues here.

Access to the arts and culture should be broad, regardless of ability to pay and lack of transportation - or disability of any sort, for that matter. Our community should do all it can to help make that possible, and a great deal is done in this community, through grants, free concerts, etc. More could certainly be done, and that is worth exploring.

Further, what people access is hugely important. Someone with cable may access more arts and culture than someone without, and  the Internet is another channel. Having supportive friends and family is important. Schools are an important source of arts and culture, And there is your culture, neighborhoods, life experience and environment. Each play a factor, which the community can influence. It is worth encouraging arts, culture and appreciation at every level, in every community.

What about using electronic billboards?


Over the last year, I began to noticed these electronic billboards along the freeways, in both the innercity and suburbs.  You can see them in Cleveland along I-90 and I-77.  This technology is also displayed at Playhouse Square on a smaller scale.  The displays change at short intervals with different content.


Wouldn't it be cool to have some of these electronic billboards replace some of the old "Colt 45" billboards in the innercity, and display artistic images and wholesome community information? 


They could be placed at strategic locations in the innercity neighborhoods and entertainment districts to stimulate the mind and provide information.  They would become the new landmarks for the area, kind of like the old Goodyear sign in the valley, that was recently replaced.


I realize that the electronic billboards make their money from advertisement.  However, it may be worthwhile for the city and the Community Development Corporations to explore how much a small scale display would cost versus the benefit to the neighborhood.  If put on city property, there would be a one time cost to buy the display with an ongoing programming cost.

Good idea - do we have any deals like this already?

I like having lots of lights downtown so the big flat panel displays are cool with me - I'd rather see them downtown than in the country. But it is pretty rare to see them used for anything interesting - usually very poorly designed ads. That will get better, but they are probably too expensive for much public use.

The RTA has put displays in Tower City for the train stations, but they use the technology so poorly it is not worth reading the displays.

Clearly we'll see more big public displays - hopefully they'll be used well, eventually. Let me know if you ever see that happen here in NEO. 

Lily Yeh artist who transforms Philly

Philadelphia-based visual artist Lily Yeh is the founder, executive director and lead artist of The Village of Arts and Humanities. "The Village" is a community of volunteers and paid workers that turns abandoned lots in North Philadelphia into community gardens, arts centers and parks. "I've come to conceive of The Village as a living piece of sculpture," she explains, "in which sculpture is a communal event. The walls are shaped and touched by people's hands, including as many people from the community as possible." The Village's primary focus has always been the North Philadelphia area, but Yeh has also taken the work to Nairobi, Kenya and has plans for "Village" projects in Ecuador and China. In addition to her work with The Village, Yeh is an accomplished painter and taught art and art history at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia for thirty years. She received her MFA in painting from the University of Pennsylvania.

Listen to her speak here:


I know a few artists like that here - how do we get that impact

She sounds very cool - I know a few artists who work in this way here - Rafala Green has built a labyrinth by the Hodge School (they have an open house coming up so that is a good time to check it out)...

So how do we grow a few great artists here into a "village". I know Rafala would like to team up with others who share her interest in community art and health,,, here's here healing labyrinth