Visual Arts » Public

The Art of Gentrification



Richard Florida argues in his The Rise of the Creative Class that cultural communities and urban economies are inherently linked, and that the "right" groups of people - including artists, designers and other creative professionals can help reinvigorate downtrodden neighborhoods. On the other side of the discussion, neighborhood activists often decry the impact of artists and galleries on existing communities, suggesting that the arts are harbingers of gentrification and, therefore, will push or price out existing residents.

But new research suggests that the relationship is a bit less direct. Ben Davis highlights New York City's own cycles of art-linked redevelopment in Slate, as well as new research suggesting that art galleries might not be sparking anything - positive or negative. The National Endowment for the Arts and Brookings Institution co-published a book on the topic, Creative Communities: Art Works in Economic Development, which offers data-crunching perspectives on the murky relationship between economy, community and culture.

What does this mean for arty neighborhoods in Indianapolis, in their various states of revitalization or gentrification? Or for the city in general, which many would love to see rebranded and remade as a culturally significant place? Which came to Fountain Square first: the artist or the economy?

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