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Artists, neighbors, aim to revitalize Indy neighborhoods

Posted by: Big Car
Posted: March 20, 2017
Categories: Community Partners

Blight is a fire scorching its way through many American cities. As entities rally to address the problem, the first reaction is to upgrade the aesthetic of a place – giving it a facelift of sorts. Fine artists, street artists and alternative arts practitioners receive invitations and slight funds to place a mural here or an installation there. However, these one-off, flaccid attempts at revitalization don’t begin to touch the deeper issues plaguing our deteriorating neighborhoods and fading sense of neighborliness.

BigCar_ArtistHousingAs the economy is still in recovery mode and real estate prices continue to rise, it’s a tricky time to enter into the home-ownership arena. The faster these communities come under redevelopment and reinvestment, the faster their demographics change. Sometimes, it’s all too true that those long-time residents are priced out. And, often times, those very artists who are brought in to aid in the revitalization strategies can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods they helped transform.

The Artist & Public Life Residency that is facilitated through a partnership between Big Car Collaborative, a nonprofit place-making organization, and Riley Area Development, a nonprofit community developer, is an incredibly unique and ambitious endeavor with a model that seeks to truly acknowledge the issue and provide a solid solution — within a myriad of solutions to such troublesome affairs. Using a shared-equity model, the partnership has secured several homes in the Garfield Park neighborhood, one of the city’s oldest communities. There, we are are rehabbing the homes specifically for artists.

A shared-equity model isn’t a widely popular method towards addressing negative symptoms of gentrification that are sweeping across our communities, although it is on the rise as an attractive alternative. Quite simply, shared equity homeownership puts a cap on the appreciation the owner can retain — thus preserving affordable housing in areas threatened by rising property values that displace residents or create a barrier to entry for new, lower income households.

Artists accepted into the Artist & Public Life Residency are not only invited to be long term residents and neighbors, the benefits within the shared equity model also mitigate the risks often found in more traditional homeownership models.

Garfield Park is taking a bold leap, embracing such an avant-garde approach towards reestablishing this block, once more than half vacant, in its neighborhood. This model is placing a premium on the value of being an artist in a community. This model says that the creators who make puppets, curate exhibitions, produce stage design and the like are a vital part of the mix.

Indianapolis is a rapidly changing city with a growing and diverse residence base. This beckons new approaches to age-old ailments. The Artist & Public Life Residency is focused on sustainable, holistic, and inclusive neighborhood growth.

For more information on how to apply, contact the Artist & Public Life Residency Program Manager, Danicia Monet at danicia@bigcar.org or visit the website.

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