Consortium Views Arts as Engines of Recover
Robin Pogrebin
New York Times

In the two years since he became chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman has been trying to make the case that art is an effective linchpin to economic development. Now in a broad effort to build on that thesis, he has helped to enlist an unusual consortium of foundations, corporations and federal agencies that will use cultural enterprises to anchor and enliven 34 projects around the country, from a struggling city block in Detroit to a vacant school in East Harlem.

The projects will receive $11.5 million in grants from the foundations and another $12 million in loans from the corporations under the program that is to be financed through the private sector but coordinated in part by federal agencies. The program, to be announced on Thursday and called ArtPlace, aims to integrate artists and arts groups into local efforts in transportation, housing, community development and job creation as an important tool of economic recovery.

“We really need to scale up the resources in the field,” Mr. Landesman said. “It is not going to be through Congressional appropriation.”

“We felt,” he added, “if we worked together and coordinated our efforts, it would have a multiplier effect.”

So in St. Paul the program will help underwrite efforts to stage more than 100 arts projects along a new light-rail line. In Detroit a stretch of Woodward Avenue will gain a music center, pedestrian greenways, improved museum space and a new building for start-up companies. And P.S. 109 in East Harlem will become a home for 90 artists and their families as well as 13,000 square feet of space for community and cultural groups.

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