Blogs > The Arts Whisperer

Offering a fresh way of helping you keep up with art and entertainment happenings around the Capital District.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

artists and urban renewal

It's that time of year when almost everyone I know is planning a bus trip to NYC. When I go it is usually on bus trip geared for those interested in theater. The bus arrives in NYC before 11 am and in order for us to get in two shows, they don't leave NYC until 11:30 p.m. It makes for a long day.

I went on a trip Saturday, but because it was high school student oriented it left NY at 6:30 p.m. Since we only could see one show, we decided to leave the Times Square area and travel to Williamsburg, Brooklyn and do something in the area of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

I advise everyone to do something similar. If not Brooklyn, try downtown and experience an Off-Broadway production. It's usually cheaper and always a little more exciting.

I plan to soon write in more detail on the show I attended, Sarah Ruhl's "Passion Play." It officially opens tonight and I expect the reviews to make this the hottest ticket in town. It was one of the most memorable theater experiences I've ever had.

But first, I'd like to comment on the area surrounding BAM. What was once one of the worst slums in New York and a dangerous place to walk even in daylight, is now one of the coolest neighborhoods in the City. There are small theaters, boutiques, neat restaurants and art galleries. It is what SoHo was 30 years ago and what Hoboken was 15 years ago.

I do not understand why urban planners and city administrators do not yet understand the economic impact of artists. The list of cities rehabilitated by low-earning artists who move into a run down community is legendary. Because of their openness, sense of style and good taste artists improve almost every aspect of a community. Of course, when the area becomes desirable, the rents go up and the artists have to rescue another ungrateful city.

Instead of bars, civic leaders should think more about encouraging performance and visual artists to find roots in a community. Look around and see what Troy Night Out has done for the community. Go to the area around the Troy Music Hall on a performance night and compare it to a non-performance night. The sound you hear on a show night is a cash register opening.

Art and entertainment is not only an economic generator, it is a community builder. I maintain cities do not do enough to help the "starving artist" live in their downtowns. It's urban renewal at its finest. Find a starving artist a home and you soon be hanging out in a cool coffee shop.


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