Public-Private Collaborative Supports Community Revitalization With ‘Creative Placemaking’

Huffington Post | June 16, 2012

By F. Kaid Benfield

An innovative and impressive partnership of philanthropic, financial and government institutions announced earlier this week the awarding of $15.4 million in grants to support cultural initiatives to revitalize and strengthen neighborhoods, towns and cities across the country.  Based in Chicago and called ArtPlace, the organization is awarding financial assistance to 47 projects in 33 communities.

ArtPlace says its highest-ranked project in this round of grants is the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling in New York City, which will receive a $350,000 grant to develop exhibits for the future museum, a project of Broadway Housing Communities.  (The facility was originally to be named for Harlem native and author/illustrator Faith Ringgold, who withdrew earlier this year.)  Projected to open in early 2014, the project will be rendering of Sugar Hill Children’s Museum & Housing (courtesy of Broadway Housing Communities)housed in a new building along with affordable housing and an early childhood center in a historic part of Harlem where 70 percent of children are born into poor families.

“Through an approach we call collaborative storytelling, this museum will enable a generation of Harlem children to share their experiences of life in their neighborhood through art and storytelling, and allow others to be part of the collective experience,” said Jake Barton, principal and founder of cosponsor Local Projects, in ArtPlace’s press release.  Kids visiting the museum will document Harlem block by block by interviewing neighbors, painting portraits of homes and residents, and gathering these elements together into collective documentaries.  Children will each get a lifetime “story space,” archiving in one place the narrative of one’s life.

That’s a concept worth rooting for.

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