The has announced a $3.5 million grant to the to expand a community development model that uses the arts and culture to catalyze local economic growth and investment.
Building on the work of director/artist , the Place Project will bring together artists, designers, urban planners, and policy experts to jump-start community-led development in cities such as Akron, Detroit, and Gary, Indiana. The project, which will be led by the university’s initiative, trains and mentors partners in each city with the goal of localizing the reinvention of abandoned spaces through community-led arts and cultural programs.
Gates, whose has renovated more than a dozen dilapidated buildings in Chicago, Omaha, and St. Louis, also leads the university's . As part of a prototyping process to develop a model that can be scaled across the United States, the Place Project will conduct in-depth case studies of each project site and invite local scholars and practitioners to share their expertise.
"From my artistic practice, I learned early on that art has the capacity to change people's perceptions — not only about a concept or an idea, but also about a place," said Gates. "What I've tried to do is leverage my understanding of art and how people view art to help them reimagine what can happen in poor neighborhoods."
"Theaster's work on the South Side of Chicago has created neighborhoods that attract talent, bring people of different backgrounds together, and foster spaces where ideas are exchanged," said Carol Coletta, vice president of community and national initiatives at the Knight Foundation. "It is a model that we want to scale, as a remarkable example of how smart and even modest interventions that lead with community engagement can spark new interest in disinvested neighborhoods."