Arts-Based Neighborhood Revitalization Engaging Artists & Creative Entrepreneurs to Identify Policy Recommendations
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The pages that follow will touch on the complexity & scarcity of funding for the arts, explore the impact of arts on local economies & the health of arts & culture industries in Atlanta & Georgia, & begin to examine why measuring economic impacts can challenge & undermine attempts to build support for arts & cultural practice into comprehensive planning efforts. Later, we will expound on the effects of arts & artists on neighborhoods, the value of artistic practice to the private development sector, & the interlocked interests of cultural, built environment, & local government sector. Connecting the literature on arts & neighborhood change with a conception of local development interests will set up a platform to position arts & culture public private partnerships as favorable mechanisms for spurring incremental, equitable, & authentic neighborhood revitalization. Next, the paper will outline various approaches that cities interested in using arts & culture as a device for spurring economic development, covering land use & zoning options, tax benefits & other incentives, & the provision of alternative financing. The following section will connect those policy options to insights gained from qualitative research data gathered in South Downtown Atlanta, an informal arts district currently fighting for survival amidst rapid ownership changes in the neighborhood. By examining the major themes that arose from interviews & participant observation of various exercises, it became possible to begin matching policy alternatives to the stated perspectives, interests, challenges, & aspirations of the artists & cultural entrepreneurs currently practicing in South Downtown. Lastly, the paper will engage with current planning documents which cover the South Downtown area, using the qualitative data to locate opportunities for plan improvement, to challenge contradictions & gaps in the current planning framework.