Lakewood Is Art

The City of Lakewood, despite its substantial economic and social challenges, is home to an extraordinary arts community. By creating an overlay of art related programs and events within the existing city fabric, we can generate countless opportunities. It makes all the sense in the world for our community to learn from those already “walking the walk.”

Just as importantly, this activity will inject energy and creative capital into the existing arts community and encourage us to make it better. These ideas are important because, as we all know, success builds upon success. Just consider, for example, what has happened in Savannah, Georgia and Paducah, Kentucky. Programs there offered incentives ranging from low-interest loans, free lots for construction, group-rate health insurance, web sites, and help with marketing and advertising. Each city now has a thriving cultural community and a strong economic outlook to boot.

What is Lakewood’s arts strategy for helping to build a city rich with art?

First, we are working to establish both a physical and a programmatic presence, doing it in a disciplined way that plays to our substantive strengths and interests. We are focusing on areas of exciting growth, often where there are interdisciplinary links. These are areas where we can collaborate with others -- with nonprofit organizations, schools, community groups, cultural institutions, industry groups, businesses, and city government at all levels. The notion here is that these are the kinds of projects that we can really sustain over the long haul, because they are central to the interests of artists and our community at large.

Secondly, since we see our creative capacity as stretching up and down Detroit, Clifton, Hilliard/Franklin and Madison Avenues and every street in between, we are careful to have a parallelism in investments in Lakewood. The strategy is to invest in projects in Lakewood that become intertwined, so as to create the “city as ART” and the “ART as city,” with people and projects crossing between them. Together, with these considerable parallel investments in Lakewood, we will nourish our creative City for years to come.

Most importantly, we will have an ability to sustain this presence, while at the same time allowing for considerable evolution in the actual events and projects taking place from one corner of Lakewood to another.

In general, these kinds of programs and projects have tremendous pay-offs for communities, as they keep an extraordinarily vibrant exchange of people and ideas going and generate new ideas and projects, even leading to the discovery of new methods and technologies, as well as new disciplines.

In Lakewood, we believe that the best thing that could happen would be that many arts institutions, nonprofits and neighborhood associations work together (with us and each other) on everything from arts business start-ups to audience cultivation for existing institutions to cultural production and educational initiatives in our neighborhoods. If we do this, our rich arts infrastructure in Lakewood might be further stabilized and increasingly spread into the neighborhoods.

Moreover, networks of social capital in the arts would be energized, and innovation no doubt would follow. As this happens, the full promise of collaboration in the arts would begin to be realized, to the benefit of the City and our citizens. When imagination knows no limitations, we will feel that things have truly “taken off.” So, when someone asks you to define Lakewood, consider saying, “Lakewood is Art,” and let the story unfold from there.

Please visit our website to review our updated mission and new projects, including the Lakewood HIGH ART Project and Band2gether.

Read More on Gallery Watch
Volume 4, Issue 6, Posted 10:12 AM, 03.12.2008