ArtPlace aides creation of 'multi-media creatorspace,' invests $8.7 million in community development projects

<a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Village of Arts &amp; Humanities</a> has been empowering
The Village of Arts & Humanities has been empowering marginalized communities through the arts for years. Nandi Muhammad said “We’re going to build something the neighborhood never forgets.” Muhammad (center), a North Philly neighborhood leader, is a contributor to a community-driven design project supported by ArtPlace funding.

Investing money in community development projects where artists, arts organizations, and arts and culture activity work to strengthen communities, ArtPlace America recently announcing recipients of its National Creative Placemaking Fund.

Pennsylvania’s Village of Arts and Humanities (The Village) was one of 23 projects chosen from nearly a thousand applications, slated to use the $500,000 grant to build the Civic Power Studio.

“We are deeply excited to announce these 23 new investments as our seventh cohort of funded projects through the National Creative Placemaking Fund,” said F. Javier Torres, Director of National Grantmaking at ArtPlace.

“This year’s investments highlight critical dimensions of creative placemaking strategy that can provide great inspiration to communities across the country.” said Torres.

Embarking on a community-driven design process to transform two vacant row homes into a multi-media creatorspace for community members, artists, law enforcement, and neighborhood stakeholders to collaborate on new public safety strategies rooted in care rather than control, The Village is the only previous recipient of ArtPlace funding.

“This project was born within the community and manifested through trusted relationships built over many years. For The Village, this is the hallmark of equitable creative placemaking,” said Aviva Kapust, Executive Director at The Village.

“We are deeply humbled and honored to have received this award,” said Kapust.

Rooted in artist-facilitated community building beginning with the work of its founders—dancer, choreographer and civil rights activist Arthur Hall (founder of Ile Ife Black Humanitarian Center, predecessor to The Village) and civic practice artist Lily Yeh, The Village has evolved.

For more than 30 years, the multi-faceted community building organization has focused primarily on arts education and land transformation to a broader and intentional commitment to increasing all residents’ access to tools for creative self-actualization. A leading model of community revitalization, the Civic Power Studio is designed to create the idea, and the definitions of, power and safety along with what each respectively presents to the project.

"The Civic Power Studio is like the root of the tree" said business owner and neighborhood grandparent, Nandi Muhammad.

“From the roots grow respect. Various projects are the branches. And public safety is the shade that the tree gives the community,” said Muhammad, a longtime resident who along with her husband, Khalid, has operated a penny candy store.

““We know the power of respect.”

“Creative Placemaking seeks the full and robust integration of art and culture into the decisions that define the ebb and flow of community life. These projects embody what this looks like at its most effective,” said Rip Rapson, President and CEO of The Kresge Foundation and Chair of the ArtPlace President’s Council.

“Overwhelmed by the extraordinary commitment demonstrated” in projects like Civic Power Studio in Philadelphia, Rapson appreciates the opportunities to contribute to the “growing understanding of creative placemaking efforts throughout the nation.”

A collaboration among the Barr Foundation, 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 William Penn Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Surdna Foundation, and two anonymous donors, ArtPlace has awarded $56.8 million through 189 grants to projects serving 122 communities across 42 states and the District of Columbia.

Advancing the field of creative placemaking, in which art and culture plays an explicit and central role in shaping communities’ social, physical, and economic futures, ArtPlace’s foundation partners have deep commitments to their local and regional communities throughout America.

“I can see it happening. It’s going to be easy,” said Muhammad, referring to the Civic Power Studio.

“We’re going to build something the neighborhood never forgets.”

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