2016 Urban Studies Forum: Keynote – Jason Schupbach

2016 Urban Studies Forum: Keynote – Jason Schupbach


Modarres: Before I introduce our keynote speaker today I wanted to take this special moment to thank two special supporters of ours who have been with us for multiple years, and I really appreciate it. One is the Pierce County regional counsel who have continued to be our supporter for multiple years now and we truly appreciate that, and then a friend who has been a part of the construction of the University of Washington Tacoma, but also a supporter of the Urban Studies program, and that’s Korsmo Corporation. Korsmo has been a significant part of what we do and the stuff we’re able to do with you. I hope you have enjoyed this mornings conversation as I mentioned to you the viability is something that is complex, we can’t talk about all of the dimensions of it, so hopefully there were enough here in terms of conversation and I’m sure there will be stuff left out that we can address at other times, and we’ll focus on those topics. There are a couple of other people who I have not thanked, which this is a moment for me to thank, one is Julia Smith our administrator who quietly in the background does a lot of work that makes me look good, and that’s one of the things that I have to say, without Julia it would be difficult for me to do the work I do. Also BrieAnna Bales who is not here, who has done a tremendous job of organizing the events, and also helping us on many of the details of this event. Urban studies students, they are great members of our family, we are proud of them, and they help us with our events, so I want to thank them as well, and our faculty members who are always my best friends and my best critics, and in some ways they are the ones who tell me if I am doing right, and they will gladly tell me when I am not doing this so well. So thank you so much for all of the support and everything you have done, and I wanted to thank you for being here. But this is the moment that allows me to introduce a great opportunity for me to introduce someone who has been with this topic that we have talked about this morning for multiple years, and plays a very important role in terms of the national level, but also at the local level to bring various aspects of the Built Environment and the Cultural institutions together. It is my distinct pleasure to introduce Jason Schupbach, director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts, this morning you heard a couple of plugs for N.E.A., it looks like the N.E.A. is involved in multiple locations. Jason currently manages the N.E.A. grant making for design, and design initiatives, such as The Mayors’ Institute on City Design, which I find quite fascinating, and it is a way for our leadership to understand how Urban Design works, and he also manages the category called Our Town. Which provides funding in recognition of the role that the arts can play in economic revitalization and creating livable, sustainable communities, I promised him I am not going to read the rest of his bio. because you have it in front of you. It is my distinct pleasure to invite Jason to come up and give us the keynote. Schupbach: Well, Hi everybody! Okay, that was super weak. Let’s do that again, Hi everybody! Hi. So what is the N.E.A.? Does anybody know? What are we? First time anybody has ever gotten it on our first saying. We are a federal agency, we are not an endowment. I am here from the federal government and I am here to help. So I wanted to take today to tell you guys a story, and it is a story about us. It is a story about all of us, and kind of what happened to all of us after 2008, and really about the role of creativity in our lives. It’s the story of non-profits, for- profits, and government coming together to make better communities all across the country. It’s the story of mayors, teachers, farmers, preachers, and transportation engineers, using the Arts to build better communities. So, where do we start talking about us? Remember 2008? That was a lot of fun wasn’t it? Remember when those couple of nitwits at some banks brought down the world economy? That was great, so what was the problem in 2008? What was the primary problem? Audience: Greed Schupbach: But what was happening to all of us in 2008? Housing, right? This was the primary thing that everybody was underwater on their mortgages, so why was this different from past recessions? Well in past recessions, you could sell your house and move to where jobs were. But when everybody was underwater on their mortgages, you couldn’t move. Right? It was fundamentally different from past recessions in America, so the federal government, when Obama started in 2008 had to look at where people lived already, and said “How do we help people where they are already? How do we create jobs where people are already?” And that became something called the Place Based initiatives across the entire government, that was really about how do we take places where people already live, and make them great. So, lets start with how we began thinking about that at the federal government was where do we start with what we want? There was this major study done by the Knight Foundation with Gallup, called “Soul of the Community” Have any of my professor nerds seen this one? Okay, they interviewed like 40,000 people across the country and it said “Why do you love living where you live?”. That’s the key to unlocking how to build a good community right? It’s why somebody actually would want to live there. So what do you think the top 3 reasons are that somebody would want to live in a community? Lets just call them out. Affordable housing. Access to nature Jobs Time for life School, what else? Sorry? Amenities Family Okay, sort of, we sort of got a number one, maybe. Number one, number one reason across the whole country. I’m too far away, I got to stop walking away, oops. So these are the things that we heard, right? That everyone said, these are the kind of very typical things that I hear when I go and talk across the country. Number one reason, social offerings. Number one reason why people want to live somewhere, things to do. Number two. I need a new battery. Number two, Openness, I gave it away. Number two, Openness, feeling accepted. The number three reason why people actually love living somewhere, and this really blew us away at the National Endowment for the Arts is aesthetics. The beauty of the place, so when I go and talk to a lot of folks, when we are having all of these conversations, you know, the majority of conversations in the country around how to build a good place are about this, right? Jobs, transit, environment, schools, businesses, and unfortunately, usually arts is over here by itself, it’s like “Oh that’s our little arts project, isn’t that nice?” you know? Sorry Amy. So what we’ve been trying to do at the Endowment is to change that game, and to really put the arts at the same table. Not more important, at the table with all those other things is an essential part of building your community. You’re lucky to have someone like Amy here, not to pick on you because she’s doing an amazing job. Can she get a round of applause? She is so awesome. But not every community has an Amy! So, and this is what I think are the mistakes some communities make, right? Like after the Baltimore riots, the arts are the solution, maybe the only solution. That’s not the right answer, that’s doing this, right? But it’s about this. So, when you put the arts into the Place Based initiatives at the federal government, we’ve made up a new term, and somebody already said it today, I was really proud to hear that come out. We love new words in the federal government, and we called it Creative Placemaking. This is just a frame for us to really kind of project work into the Placed Based initiatives around the arts. So this is a general definition of Creative Placemaking, again, it’s just when partners in communities come together around arts based projects to make their communities better, is the easiest way to describe it. So I promise this is my only, I have two very wonky- texty slides that I want to go through. Just to make this a little bit clearer, and there is only two of them. So what can Creative Placemaking do? Right? Like when you bring the arts to your community development table, what does it actually do? This is just a framework for thinking about this. So, number one thing everybody always knee-jerks to is economic development, right? We build the theater in the downtown, people have to go to dinner before that, the theater pays for dry cleaners, and everything else that happens around that. We understand that in the arts very well, but what I think a lot of communities don’t understand is the role of the arts in seeding civic engagement, right? I think we’ve heard a lot about that already, a lot of people talking about there’s really a roll for us using Cultural as an expression to get to understand each other better in communities, and to engage people in planning processes, I mean, my God, who has been to a boring public meeting? If you’ve seen Parks and Recreation, I mean that is like, their public meetings are better than the ones I have been to, you know. I have seen fist fights break out, and we have funded things like artists, like theater artists to run public meetings. It also helps really build resiliency, I mean, I am slightly nervous based on the big article that came out last year about the huge earthquake that is coming to the Tacoma region, I hope people saw that… But you know, after disaster, the arts really has a role too, and we have seen lots and lots of great examples of that. But, you know, it is a way to really bring people back together and seed civic engagement, and build resiliency, the social resiliency of the community, right? It’s not just about the physical resilience of a place, it’s not about, that this building is earthquake proof, it’s about the social resiliency of the community to recover from disaster, and the arts have a role in that. And of course it also contributes to the quality of life, I mean, who wants, who doesn’t want to live our life without the arts? I certainly don’t, and I don’t think anyone actually does. But then, so how does it do that? Right? So you’ve got those things we know it can do, it doesn’t do everything, but it does some things. How does it do that? Well one of the, so we sort of created these categories, which are just kind of a way to think about it. So one of the things it does is anchoring. What we mean by that is that, the sort of, what you might knee jerk to, like, what this whole panel, what some previous people on this panel were about. We put a museum in an old downtown department store, and anchored that space, it is part, it is a community anchor, both socially and economically. There’s also activating, that’s, things, that’s the social offerings part of this conversation, the things to go do. Almost, unless you’re doing sports, it probably has something to do with the arts. There’s fixing, and that’s in quotes because it’s an extremely clumsy term, because it makes it sound like the community was broken in some way before you got there. But, you know, the arts can certainly help re-imagine public spaces, make things more beautiful, remember the number three reason why people like living somewhere is because it’s beautiful? We don’t, can I just get a round of applause for beauty? I mean… Like… We act like it’s this thing that is so precious that we don’t all want, when it’s really true that we really do want beauty in our lives, you know? And then planning, you know, like I said before, you can really use the arts in the community planning process, in a serious way. So how did we pursue that, so we thought about how, you know, a lot of this work had been going on for years, way before we came up this term creative place making, so we thought about, from the federal level, what’s the right way for us to support this work right? We have a very decentralized version of government in the United States, contrary to popular opinion. It really is about how do we give you money and support you on the ground from what you’re doing. So we started with the N.E.A.’s money, and I have US Money there because it is your tax money, thank you each for your point zero zero fourth of a penny that you give to us every year at the NEA. Not even a dollar a person. Umm, and, that became the Our Town project, which I’ll show you some examples from, but then we really wanted to do partnerships, because our funding is very small to federal government– people refer to us as budget dust sometimes, umm, so like if this little spec of budget dust on my finger is N.E.A.’s budget, this room is like housing/urban developments budget, it’s, that’s sort of the scale of our agency. So our previous chairman Rocco Landesman had this idea, sort of like the Cuckoo bird, which goes and plants its eggs in other places, and then makes other people raise it. So we sort of, like, planting our eggs. Umm, so, we’ve been working with all kinds of other federal agencies, and I’ll– I won’t talk about that right now, but the place based initiatives that I described, that all agencies are working on together, I’ll– we can get into that in the Q&A if you’re interested, ’cause it’s super wonky. But umm, the arts– we’ve been at all of those tables, we’ve sat– our chairman’s sit at the table with the chairman of H.U.D. and the chairman of D.O.T. and– sorry, the Department of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development– you become an acronym crazy person when you move to D.C.– it’s just like you assume that everyone knows what D.O.T. means. Umm, so we’re at that table, umm, and that’s been really exciting, and there’s been lots of good projects we’ve done together. And then this like, amazing thing happened, ’cause our former chairman used to be a theater producer, and kind of knew how to raise money from a brick wall. Umm, he went to fourteen major foundations and said “You know, we would really love for you guys to co-fund with us.” and it worked, for the past ten years, fourteen foundations have been putting in $15 million a year, new money to support communities to do art based work in a project called Artplace. It’s not the N.E.A. people confuse Artplace and Our Town, Our Town is the N.E.A.’s program, Artplace is all foundation funded, we have a non voting seat on their board. Umm, they’re doing incredible work, which we can get more into. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about Our Town, so this was a new program for the N.E.A. and what was really unique about it is that we put in a requirement that to even apply, and this was a guess that this might work, uhhh, you had to have a local government partnering with an arts organization. And so we sent out the guidelines, you know, nervously, and thought “Gosh I hope we even get like ten applications” and we were kind of overwhelmed with the response which really showed to us the communities were already doing this work, and we had a lot of arts organizations calling us and going, “I’ve never even spoken to my mayors office, or my government, I don’t even know how to begin to apply to that” and we would say “That’s, well– you’re a citizen in your community, and organization of your community you should know your government” and we have a lot of mayors offices calling us and saying “Why are all of these arts people calling us?” You know? And we were like, well ’cause they’re your constituents, you know? So, we were excited about kind of the response we got to this, and– to that. And surprised and shocked, and delighted. Umm, and here’s– uhh, it’s kind of a map of where we funded, we funded all over the country, this is a– umm, my pointer isn’t working. This is an Eskimo village on the Bering strait, they can uhh, literally see to Russia from their house. Umm, uhh, native village of Mary’s Igloo, 300 people to– uhh, lets see, this is a town of 12 people in Colorado, Last Chance, Colorado. Not their last chance, umm, uhh, woops sorry, wrong button, uhh to literally the Key West, uhh the Acadia portion of Maine up here, to Puerto Rico. We’ve been up in all 50 states, and umm, to two territories, D.C. and Puerto Rico. So all size communities are doing this, all types of communities, this isn’t– when you work at the federal government you realize what an incredible diverse, insanely interesting country this is. And everybody’s stepping up and doing this work already, and doing it in very serious ways. And you have Amy who’s doing– who has gotten our town grants and has done great work here. So, lets take a look at some pictures, so umm, this is Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Uhh, what was Bethlehem famous for? Audience: Steel Schupbach: Steel right? So, this is the steel stacks, the famous steel stacks that have closed. So this is a huge site for redevelopment, this is a town of about 80,000 people and half of the redevelopment site was a casino. What ever works– and the other half is actually this incredible new art center. This is like, uhh, Levitt Pavilion and you can’t really see from here but the steel stacks are up there, and it’s like a post industrial red rocks. It’s so cool. And, uhh, they built facing that, uhh, Levitt Pavilion, this is a Jazz cafe, umm, music center and, uhh, independent film center. And this tiny town brings in 2 million people a year for music festivals that they have on this site now. Uhh, the local PBS station just moved onto the site, this is their new space. And the N.E.A. ended up actually funding this piece of public art, which is a, I think it’s a four story tall steel– piece of steel that umm, up the sides of it are written the names of all the famous buildings that were built with the steel from Bethlehem steels. So, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and as you’ve noticed, it lights on fire, so can you imagine the public approval process to get a piece of public art that lights on fire approved? These are some stalwarts here, really amazing project to take a peak at, and a real kind of looking at what their local asset was and how the arts might be a piece of the puzzle in bringing back economic development to this community. Umm, so, and sort of– continuing to talk about that anchoring theme, umm, Artist Live/Work space an affordable Live/Work space is really important especially now-a-days with the sort of extreme housing costs in most of our strong market cities in America. I think we– you know, it’s a dangerous trap to fall into, everywhere is becoming expensive because there’s definitely strong market cities and weak market cities in this country. But in strong market cities, affordable artist housing is very important, and so this is an example of a smaller community in Hamilton, Ohio. Umm, this is now 36 units of affordable Live/Work space. That’s pretty sexy, you wanna see that one again? Before, after. Umm, and there will be art galleries on the ground floor of this building in downtown Hamilton. Umm, this is a very similar project in New Haven, Connecticut to your Spaceworks project, which is about giving creative entrepreneurs space– connecting the dots between empty retail spaces and creative entrepreneurs to create new permanent businesses and fill umm– downtown empty retail spaces. This is a great project in Long Beach, California. You might have heard that California has a lot of parking lots, it’s true, the rumor is true. And in Long Beach, what the city really recognizes is there’s this lack of access to cultural opportunities across many of the neighborhoods, and especially a lot of the umm, lower income communities of color. And– we should talk about gentrification, but there’s actually some real misunderstandings about what’s been going on in some of those communities. For– I think it’s 75% of the low income communities of color in the country, there has been zero gentrification. Zero. Nothing has changed in those communities, and that is a problem. So, cultural access is one of those issues, and so what they said is “You know, we don’t need performing spaces, we’re California, the sun’s always out, we’re gonna take– we’re gonna find key empty lots out in these neighborhoods and bring art to them.” This is just– this is a gospel concert, there were like incredible hip-hop things, and new media things, and it was really cool, but it was a really smart look at what’s our– what’s going on here, lets do a different version of cultural access. Right? As opposed to “Oh you need to come to our buildings downtown, we’re gonna bring them to you.” Umm, I love this project in Nashville. What’s Nashville famous for? Country music, right? So the mayor really wanted to do something different, and uhh, and say that “It’s not just country music, but it’s all music.” And so the Nashville Opera came to us with this awesome program, and they said “Look, every country music song is an opera.” Right? It’s a story. And those country music writers who write those writers– who write the you know– like, they write one Taylor Swift song, or like a third writer on a Taylor Swift song and they’re bazillionaires, and they don’t have that much work to do. So they wanted to put– Audeince: (Laughter) I’m not kidding– I mean this is just the truth of the situation, and so you know– they’re like sitting by their pool and umm, they decided that they wanted to give a chance for those writers to write longer form than a 3 minute song. And so they’re running a competition amongst those writers in Nashville and the other talent– I mean the talent, the Julliard level talent that’s in Nashville is insane. Umm, and they said “What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna like have a competition to do small operettas, so people are producing like 10-15 minute operas. And then we’re gonna perform them in the country honky-tonks. And on the back of a flatbed truck which they’re gonna drive around town just like in the lot project to bring it to communities that don’t have it. But it’s a– so you’re sorta noticing what I’m saying about a lot of these is– it’s always arts and, right? It’s not just an arts project, it’s about arts and environment, and restoration, and economic development, but it’s also about the place itself. You could not do this project anywhere but Nashville, right? And everywhere, arts is a natural occurring resource, in every community, right? And you’ve got your own thing going on here, and I would love to– wish I have more time to figure out– you know and see a lot more of what it is. But, umm, it’s about who you are as a place itself and being super proud of that in using the arts to amplify that in an interesting way. Okay, so I love this project, these are people– This is Liz Lerman’s dance troupe you may have heard of. These are folks doing an interpretive dance of the reconstruction– of their hopes for the reconstruction of a local uhh, bus rapid transit line next door. So, this is a dance company working with a transit authority and this is a public meeting. They’re collecting data here, about what people’s hopes and dreams are, and I also just wanna be the god father of this amazing girl, ’cause she’s just so cool. Come find me, just kidding. Umm, okay so, you know it’s not just for even midsize communities, this can happen in rural too. So who’s been– has anyone been to the Wisconsin Dells? Which is sort of like a– oh cool, I never see that many hands. Umm, I’d love to go, uhh which is sort of like a Las Vegas of the– how would you describe it? It’s kind of like that umm, but just outside of the Dells, there’s a very rural county where there’s lots of small farms, right? These are not big industrial farms, these are small farms. And there was a group of artists living there, and they said “We really wanna do something with the farmers.” So they got together with them and they said you know, uhh “What do you guys need?” and they said “Well we need people to come and buy our produce, we need more farmers markets.” So they put together this two week arts festival, well they did two things. First they started working with the farmers to use artists to redesign their roadside food stands, so they have these amazing roadside food stands now, which I don’t have a photo of, sorry. Go look it up it’s called Wormfarm. Umm, but then they said during a two week period, we’re gonna like do public art actually on the farms themselves, and teach people about food, and bring people to come see public art out on the farms. So this is a– this is like a 20 foot wide frame that you can kind of drive by, it’s one of the pieces. This is a– those are not actors, that is a Mennonite family coming and visiting umm, in their extremely rad outfits. Uhh, and that’s a– those are huge boots that are very quite far away from them, that was a piece of public art on the farms. And farmers have gotten super into this, and they’re like making their own art now, there’s performances out on the farms themselves, uhh, this is last year. This year I don’t have a photo of, but there was a performance that was like a– there was a totally redesigned tractor that had a opera singer up on it in a corn husk dress singing, which was really cool. These people are amazing. Umm, and I wanna tell this story because I think it’s a very well rounded story about how a smaller community can work with the arts to actually deal with a multitude of issues that they have there. So this is Vollis Simpson, he just passed away. At 92 years old he created these crazy gigantic umm, Whirligigs. This is about 200 feet tall. And he had about 400 of them in his front yard. And so uhh, he’s world famous, you will see these all over the world now that I’ve shown them to you– told you who he is. Consider a– his name a national treasure by the president– Vollis was before he passed away. You must know who he is. So the city of Wilson, North Carolina used to be a big tobacco town, and as we know the tobacco industry is going down quite a bit. And so they had this downtown area– a park that was surrounded by these old tobacco umm, drying bins– and I’m just going to show you– I think I have a photo of it. So they said we wanna really restore these pieces and create a park uhh, like sort of like a Watts Towers kind of park, like a really important place where people can come and see the Whirligigs. But they also really needed to be restored ’cause they were kind of in terrible shape so, that’s– itself a good story right? Like the– they’ve taken this artwork, they’re making it much more public. It used to be way out on his farm, and all of these buildings you see here are– have now all been sold or are being redeveloped. Which would’ve been a great economic development story, but the really cool thing they did was they said we’re gonna use the actual art restoration as a way to provide jobs to people who are unemployed in our community. So, they took all these engineers, I mean, and people who– like have been working on repairing cars and things, and you– gave them new skill sets uhh, in at restoration. And I’m hoping this will be the good end of this story, because they developed– it was only like 15 jobs, but that was 15 people who didn’t have a job before, right? And this is a relatively small community. They’re now in conversations with the Smithsonian folk art restoration center in creating a permanent art restoration center here, so these people have a permanent jobs, which would just be so awesome. So– you can clap, that would be awesome. So, you can do this in a multi-layered way. That’s beyond just what you see, you can do the human side of it too– is what I like about that story. And we also believe in just kind of training artists, you know, and helping people be better entrepreneurs– this is the arts incubator of the Rockies. Umm, it’s a website and a program that’s about providing business training to artists. We’re also super nerds for data umm, I can– are you enjoying these examples? I could blow through them more quickly, yes? Okay good. Umm, so this is a crazy interesting project and uhh, in Pennsylvania that pulls all different kinds of– this is for my planning nerds in the audience. Umm, Can I– show– who’s a planning student and or design person? Okay there’s some, good. Everyone else take a nap– check your phone. Umm, so uhh– this is– allows you to pull down data about cultural organizations and investment, and all different kinds of data layers. So, here we’re looking at National Endowment for the Arts grants. Put my cell phone up– up here– and ethnic diversity status, so the purple means ethnically diverse neighborhoods. And the green dots are the N.E.A. grants. We’re not doing so good, right? This was really informative to us. There’s organizations and folks we could be funding out in some of these other neighborhoods that we don’t have relationships with. This changed the– our relationship with Philadelphia, just this simple– one version of this map. And this is– this is some of the power of data, and there’s amazing things happening with this data in Philadelphia. You should give these folks a ring. Okay, does anybody know what our prize is? One person. Good umm, so Grand Rapids community uhh, post industrial community in Michigan has a population of about 180,000 and through uhh– this happened through a kind of– a very large individual donor wanted to do this. So our prize is this thing, where two– over two weeks in the downtown– and now out in much of the neighborhoods– any artists for $75- it’s not free. Can submit to be curated to then show your art somewhere. It could be outside, could be on the sidewalk, could be in a museum. But over those two weeks 300,000 people come and see this, and they vote on what their favorite piece of art is. And the artist that wins gets $250,000. Audience: Woah! Schupbach: So, really cool project. I encourage you to look at it– go check it out. Umm, this is 10,000 people– This is one of the art pieces waiting in the downtown for 400,000 paper airplanes to be thrown off the top of the buildings down at them– it didn’t win which I couldn’t believe, but umm– That’s a social offering right? Lets go see the paper airplanes come down. Umm, we also believe very strongly at the N.E.A. in funding good design, I’m sort of showing you only half of my work, which is really about the roll of arts– we have a whole design program that just funds, like what’s the roll of good design in communities. So this is in Detroit in the midtown area, which is the most booming area right now. Yes, only primarily serving white millenials. Where’s my person who said that? I was– thank you for saying that comment, ’cause there are very complex things in Detroit. But you know, Detroit is big and so there’s a lot of empty space between buildings, and this was kind of a reimagining of how they might use the empty space– empty spaces between the buildings, not just the street in an interesting way. Umm, this is in Shreveport, Louisiana. Someone burned down their local arts council– this is their local arts council being burn to the ground. Umm, how’s that for xenophobia? Umm, and they said “You know what? We’re not just gonna rebuild where we are, there’s a part of town that we think has a lot of potential, and we’re gonna see if we can move there and do something special.” So they moved to umm, this old fire house and created a new working artist center, not just a cultural center. Umm for artists in this– well it’s called the Iron Triangle there, and now a lot of the different buildings are being bought up for different art things. But they do a lot of temporary– it’s still quite an abandoned area of town, so they did a lot of temporary art stuff to kind of bring people in and make people feel comfortable. I mean any student of Jane Jacobs knows more eyes on the street makes people feel more comfortable– leads to more economic development– leads to better things for the community there. So this is one of the public art projects umm, it’s quite a famous artists, you might have seen around the world. Umm, they built some of these structures which like the skateboarding kids like just went crazy for. And I think this is– I loved your example from South Carolina, where there was the piece of public art– people just playing with. I mean the last thing we want at the endowment is for people to sort of treat things so preciously, right? Especially if it’s a piece of public art, you know? It should be interactive, people want to interact now. Our society is so different than it was even 10 years ago, people are craving to get off these phones sometimes and just have a face to face, or something to do. I love my phone though, don’t take it a way. Umm, and then I’ll just show you this one last example, which was nearby here in Portland. Uhh, this was a really amazing organization, I don’t think they’re around anymore– that was doing work trying to make the people who live in– lived in affordable housing feel like their culture was represented and important. So what they did is they went to a lot of the affordable housing residence and took these– had professional photographers take pictures of their families, which they then gave to them as these like works of art. So it’s this amazing process of both validating people’s culture and giving people permanent, like beautifully produced permanent pieces. So this is a real– to me, kind of one of the connecting projects, you know? Really helping us recognize the value in each our own cultures. And I don’t have great photos of it, but people came dressed up in like these– you don’t even realize how many amazingly talented people there are out there who have like a little art form on the side that they’ve carried down from their grandmother, but they would never call themselves an artist, right? So frustrating to me that someone like sings in church is like “Oh, I’m not an artist.” You know? Or has a– you know– a fiber art that they do at home, and they’re like “Oh, I’m not an artist.” You know? That’s just like– I’m just weaving. Why do we separate ourselves that way from the arts? It’s so dumb. I don’t get it. Why are you so dumb? No, I’m just kidding. Why are we so dumb? Why am I so dumb? Okay, so you can see more of those examples uhh, on our website that we created called the Exploring Our Town, do not– you can go to www.arts.gov which is our website at the N.E.A.– arts.gov but it’s just easier to Google Exploring Our Town, cause this is like 15 clicks into our 2-3,000 page website. Umm, you can see more examples and you can sort them, and you can also see a lot of lessons learned about how– we asked the project managers “How’d you guys do this?” Amy has– the Tacoma art museum project that we funded here is up on here, so you guys can go check that one out too. And Amy gave us great quotes about how she did it so. Umm, so I’m gonna just wrap up by talking about the newest initiative at the N.E.A This is just three seconds. So when the chairman came in she was really thrilled about all the arts and play Spacework. But she was like why are we talking about the arts connecting to everything, right? And that’s because we know to creativity does connect. We have just seen it going on everywhere. That artists are working with, they’re doing residencies at law schools. There’s all kinds of arts and food stuff going on. There’s arts and science stuff going on. So we created this new program called creativity connects. But we’re not getting ahead of our selves. We not pretending that we know whats actually going on out there so we’re doing two things. We’re doing a major research study looking at what do artists and designers need to succeed right nowadays. So that will be a made, an update, there hasn’t been a study done since 2003 looking at what the needs of artists are in America. Like, remember these phones came along since then. That’s kind of changed the way we all work. So that study has a very public, oh sorry, that study has a very public face to it. A website we just launched called creativz. C,R,E,A,T,I,V,Z dot U.S. which we all encourage you to give us feedback on. This is a research website. This is, nothing set yet. So there’s blog posts that are on here that are sort of talking about what we think is going on in America right now. There’s one now by the head of Games For Change, which is an organization that supports video games, doing social change projects, there’s one by Laura Zabelle, from Springboard for the Arts, talking about how our whole society, all the big societal changes going on right now is effecting the arts in the same way it’s effecting everything else. So it’s just like, I mean, you can come be a troll and just like tell us whatever you want. We want that. You know, please tweet about this, whatever you like. We’re still in research phase. We are trying to learn about what it means to be successful as a creative person in America right now. The second piece of that is we’ve launched a new grant program too, called Creativity Connects, which is similar to our town rule would require partnerships between our parks organizations and like science organizations. So I said, you know, when we first got started doing this, we just to like a quick scan of what we’ve already funding at the N.E.A. and like America is amazing. I mean, America is great. You know, like, there’s just so much incredible stuff going on out there already and we’re hoping through the grant program and this research report will surface that kind of stuff and then help other funders look at how they might support it going forward. So we’re kind of just researching this right now. But I will tell you there is incredible stuff goin on out there. So but, why, you might ask like, why the heck are you guys doing all this? Right? Like why aren’t you just funding, you know, the local symphony, or the local theatre organization? Well that is actually 95% of what we do at the N.E.A. That’s 95% of our funding. We also really do believe that the arts and design have a role in making our society better. And it really comes back to all of us. And our collective future. Right? We’re interested in what the next 50 years, the N.E.A. turned 50 years, 50 years old this year. What do the next 50 years look like? And we really believe strongly that creativity has an unbelievably important role to make life better for all of us. That’s it thanks so much. Sorry what? Yes! Please ask me questions. I’m your public servant. It’s your chance to yell at me. I know those cookies are good but like… You can break away from them and, yes come on. Audience member: Hello, how have you been working with the military? Schupbach: So we have a couple really great military programs. One is, I think, was mentioned before. It’s called Blue Star Museums. Which asks museums to provide free admission between Memorial Day and Labor Day to active service member families. And so that’s a great program. We also have, and Congress just gave us more money to do this. We actually got an increase this year in our budget, yay. And it was specifically to fund our military programs. So we have a program in Walter Reed Hospital where we work with the most trouble PTSD suffering soldiers. And they get, it’s an art therapy program. And it is serious. I mean for some of these soldiers, if you hear them talk about it, art is the one thing that has worked for them. They loved it so much that we’re expanding to other forts and other places. And it’s, it is and an absolutely amazing program and we’re really excited about it. And we got two million more dollars, which will be partly distributed to the states to increase our capacity to do all of that. Yes. Audience Member: So I wanted to share a story about how art impacted in a major way the life of a young women I was mentoring in Seattle’s South End and then ask a question. So I served as a mentor for many, many years but this one, this child came to me at the age of 14 and was flunking five out of six classes. I didn’t know why so I spent a lot of time with her at school. We were riding the ferry one time and she was sitting across from me and just doing something on her three ring binder. And I said what are you doing? She said, eh nothing. And then it turned out she was doing anime comic book art. But not just like one page or two pages. These were like three ring binders. And so I realized that she had talent and she had not shown it to anyone. She had at home another 3 three ring binders. And so because I didn’t know anything about it I found others who could help me help her. She, we enrolled her in a workshop and the workshop instructor said this girl has talent so why don’t you enroll her in this other one. Which I did. And to make a very long story short, she went from flunking five out of six classes to making it in honor roll in two years. And in four years making it off to college. And I do think that just the recognition of her art, her talent and the ability to express it and show it, I think made a huge difference. Schupbach: Yeah validation is very important. So… Audience Member: So I, my question is whether you, the N.E.A. has done any studies relating those two? Schupbach: Sure, yeah there was a major study that came out last year. Oh my god, arts education is not my forte so you’ll have to forgive me, I don’t remember the name of the author. It basically showed that students that have access to the arts do better in almost every single category. Period. Like there’s a major, you know, undeniable study. And so it is something we’ve been working with to try and enrich our arts and education programs. There’s a great program called turnaround arts that’s out of the presidents committee and Arts Humanities which is another one of the cultural agencies, there’s lots of cultural agencies, that does full arts emersion in some of the most troubled schools in the country. They bring in a big visiting artist. They do full arts emersion across all the classes for the entire year. And then the turnaround that has happened in the schools is absolutely astounding. You could go check that data out too. It’s just, it, it’s almost unbelievable that they’ve gotten the numbers that they’ve gotten. I mean it’s hard to believe it’s been that successful. But it has. It works. Yes sir. Audience Member: Jason, thanks for being here and that presentation, great work by the N.E.A. I’d like you to dive into a little more deeply on the creative place making in suburbs particularly. We have a couple communities here who are trying to leverage place making, performing arts center, community center type places within difficult environments. One of them is Federal Way. They’re building a building there in the middle of a series of strip malls completely hidden away from everything. What advice might you give them and or where have you seen successes or failures in suburban creative place making? Schupbach: Great, your talking specifically about the building of cultural institutions, I mean, cultural institutions are a piece of good city design. So it’s, there’s nothing special about the, what good city design is and for a cultural institution versus a city design for anything else. It’s a piece of the puzzle, right? I think it’s quite fine for them to, we’ve seen a lot of success of cultural institutions being in kind of the strip mall environment because it’s really, really hard to change that physical environment in a meaningful way. And if that’s just where they’re at, people are going to have access to the cultural institutions and that’s fine. I can’t say that, I grew up in the suburbs, like I can’t say that that’s, if people want to live there and that’s what they want, it is a free country, they can live there, right? You know, like, I like the suburbs, I grew up in it. The, so I feel like it’s more for that kind of organization that’s in that kind of urban environment, it’s about are they serving the right kind of audience that they are hoping to serve? Are they doing the right things to connect with that audience to make sure that people know that they’re there and come to them and is it? I think it’s more about that kind of stuff then necessarily, making it the cultural institutions responsibility to solve the larger urban planning issues that exist in that community. It’d be about helping them be at the table. So maybe I’d suggest the cultural institutions should take the time to go to city planning zoning meetings. Or maybe run, be on the school board. Or be on the planning board in that community. I mean one of the things that cultural institutions and artists don’t do nearly enough, and my designers and artists in the field here, is public service, right? So many of those zoning boards that are making the decisions that you don’t like are positions that you could have if you took the time to do it. You know, you have to step up in America. And so, you don’t get to just sit on your heels and make change happen here and so that might be the kind of thing, I don’t want to get into the specifics of that exact environment because I don’t know it well enough but you get what you ask for. You know what I mean? So that’s, I also might recommend that if they want to rethink the sight around it that they work with one of the local design schools and do some design sherets to come up with some new plans or ideas or innovative things that they want to do. And then you know take that work to the local zoning commission and fight for some of the, I mean you gotta, it’s a long process to fix some of those programs. They could apply for a grant to do the design, the design work on the ground. Yes. Audience Member: If you want a challenging situation, or challenging place, I was thinking about people that are homeless. And how they, I’m very much aware that they, many, many people are one job away from poverty. Many people are not very far away from losing their homes if they you know, have under water mortgages or whatever. And also a large percentage of people that are homeless have multiple disabilities, including often mental illness and or co occurring disorders. So your talking about a population that’s very diverse. And it sounds as if many people write off all people who are homeless without differentiating certain individuals who have tremendous potential. Including, I suspect, artistic potential. And it would be very interesting if the city, I’m on the commission on disabilities and people with all kinds of disabilities, whether they’re neurological or sensory, whether they’re blind, whether they’re deaf or whatever. Certainly there is artistic potential among people with disabilities in people that are young and also among those who are rather old. And I think that, and I’m not talking just about homeless people, I’m talking about people who aren’t, or in communities that the, my connection… Schupbach: Is there a question there? Sorry. Audience Member: Yeah. Schupbach: What’s the question? Audience Member: The question is basically is, can you invision the National Endowments for the Arts or encouraging or being serving as a catalyst for cultural institutions and also for city government, such as Tacoma City Government, Pierce County Government, to consider whether there might be some place for an arts project in a venue which serves people who are homeless. Schupbach: Absolutely. So there’s lots of that stuff going on in the country already. There’s lots of good examples. Just off the top of my head, and I know it’s one of the biggest cities in the country and may not be as replicable, but the department of cultural affairs in New York City has a big relationship with the department of homeless services and they do tons of arts programming, visual and performing arts in the homeless centers there. And, will the arts solve the bigger problem of homelessness in the country? No. That’s one of those things where, remember when we had the arts like over all those other things? Like that’s a mistake to think that. Does it have a role to play in enriching everyone’s life, including people who might be homeless? Yes. So there’s, the issue of homelessness is so gigantic and infuriating and the arts have a role to play but it’s not going to solve it. So. That’s how I’d answer that. So yeah it’s happening. Yes sir. Audience Member: When I hear a good joke, I like to retell it perfectly. Schupbach: Ok. Audience Member: How did you introduce that question about the National Endowment of the Arts at the beginning of the presentation? Remember how he asked the question and he asked… Schupbach: I asked what we are. Oh when I said that I’m here from the federal government and I’m here to help? Is that the? Audience Member: No… Schupbach: Because that was, I was not, that was not a joke. I was quoting Ronald Reagan. And so, I don’t know why you guys laughed. Audience Member: Well… Schupbach: Still laughing, it pissed me off. Audience Member: Well I’ll just ask the question about do you know if the National Endowment of the Arts like that? Schupbach: So, uh? Audience Member: So anyway. Schupbach: Ok, sorry. Yes sir. Audience Member: Hi, my name is Al Ratcliff. Just North of here there is a civic plaza which is dead. Are there examples that you could give us of arts programs or activities that could revive a dead civic plaza? Schupbach: Yeah there’s tons. I mean… Audience Member: A range of examples. Or… Schupbach: Go to our website, exploring our town. Oh gosh. Well, in Providence, Rhode Island, the Kennedy Plaza which was basically just like a bus stop in Providence, Rhode Island. They had designers come in and completely rethink the whole space to be more of a civic commons. And they created a stage and do a bunch of programming on it. So I would look a the Kennedy, we funded all of that. I would look at the Kennedy Plaza as an example in Rhode Island. There’s a great organization, I’m going to punt a little, but there’s a great organization called Project For Public Spaces. And another one called The Design Trust For Public Space in New York. Both grantees of our agency, who their whole point of their organizations are to make better public spaces. And that includes using the arts as part of that puzzle. So definitely look those guys up. How’s that for a punt? And call Amy. She’s got stuff that can make that plaza better with. Pay for programming, right? Start a kickstarter. Yes sir. Audience Member: Greetings, expanding hopefully what you presented to us, your god daughter that you hope to find or you hope to find you, in that example of capturing sentiment or data for the planners in that community engagement setting, could you expand on that important process of using arts to capture data in that community engagement space? Schupbach: Sure. There’s been a multitude of different communities, Flint, Michigan actually did this before the big water crisis which is a big national disaster. They did a, they were re-doing there, they were re-doing their community plan. Flint was actually re-doing it’s first zoning and community plan in 50 years, which was kind of insane. And so they actually put artist and residents in neighborhoods, in community centers and neighborhoods to work with people in the community. To collect the data, the data the city wanted around certain topics. So the city might want to know more around, you know, is the bus system working? Well then they could maybe do like a theatre performance about bussing, you know. Not that kind of bussing, like the buss system. And, I’m making this up, I’m not exactly sure if that’s what happened but that’s, that is, that’s one way that they did it is by, a lot of folks are putting artists out into the neighborhood them self in kind of three month residencies so they can actually get to know and make people comfortable. And you know so much of collecting good data is about building trust with people too. I mean I don’t think people come to a public meeting ready to share what they really think about something that is in a way actually necessarily that helpful but if you build that true trust and get to the kind of deeper place where they’re truly comfortable with sharing what they really invision is the future of their community. And the arts are great at breaking through those walls. But that takes time and attention. So I think that’s what we’re meant to have this project have worked. I mean, you know, you can imagine how much fun it was for everyone to do that big dance project about a transit thing. That probably broke down so many walls and made people so much more open to talking about what they key issues were for them. Ok, I think that’s it. Thank you guys so much I appreciate it. Modarres: Well thank you Jason for a wonderful talk and also for interaction from the audience. Thank you for being here. Hopefully this is the beginning of a longer conversation in the community and with us and including us. And we look forward to seeing you in future lectures. Thank you so much for your attention. Thank you for your participation. And thank you for carrying on a great mission which is to create a livable community. And when you get to a perfect definition, just let me know. Thank you very much.

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