Putting Creativity to Work.
Arts and culture-based revitalization strategies have been widely heralded as relatively easy fixes that can provide cities with a competitive economic edge. However, recent research has also shown that when cultural strategies are not socially rooted in the local communities they inhabit, economic disparities can be exacerbated. Despite the Twin Cities region’s overall historical prosperity and a national reputation for a thriving arts scene, it continues to struggle with how to extend to everyone the strengths and benefits the region enjoys. North Minneapolis is a community that suffers disproportionately from seeming unequal access to opportunities and uneven life outcomes. Its burgeoning arts and cultural community are central to discussions about how to close the gaps in health, education, and employment that exist between various racial/ethnic groups, and to support communities that have experienced disinvestment and have been left out of the regional affluence of the past several decades. The 2011 Bruner/Loeb Forum in Minneapolis, titled “Putting Creativity to Work: Stronger Communities through Locally Rooted Art and Design,” demonstrated how cross-sector leaders from around the country are working to lessen inequalities and build thriving cities and localities using arts and cultural engagement as the spark, the catalyst, and the foundation. Through the lens of the Bruner/Loeb Forum, this article makes a case for neighborhood-scale participatory arts and culture as an effective metropolitan community-development strategy, especially in areas stratified by class and race.