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Phoenix Center for the Arts has partnered with The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Roosevelt Row CDC, and State Representative Ken Clark to present Spirit of the Arts, a truly unique fundraiser that seeks to repair and beautify one of the most visible buildings in Downtown Phoenix, Phoenix Center for the Arts. Spirit of the Arts will be held Saturday, August 15, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Phoenix Center for the Arts.
Local and nationally acclaimed artists from all mediums have been commissioned to convert discarded rum bottles from The Breadfruit & Rum Bar into works of art. Proceeds from the auction of these art works will be used towards the improvement of the building. Participating artists include Oliverio Balcells, Curt Condrat, Ingrid Donaldson, Greg Esser, Cynthia Flores de Zarza, Kay Grams, Lauren Henschen, Kristine Kollasch, Bob Martin, Hugo Medina, Rick Naimark, Kat Perez, Fred Ullrich Jr., and Denise Yaghmaourian. Event tickets cost $75 each and can be purchased by visitingphoenixcenterforthearts.org/spirit. VIP tickets are available for $125. All tickets include complimentary beverage tickets.
The evening’s festivities include rum samples, live music, art, silent auction, raffle, delicious food from Paz Cantina and Fair Trade Cafe, beer and wine, and theArizona Storytellers Project, emceed by Rachel Egboro with storytellers Dwayne Allen, Mari Giddings, Dan Hull, and Pnina Levine.
Since 2011, the Arizona Storytellers Project has been dedicated to the idea that oral storytelling and journalism have the same goals: serving and reflecting a community while fostering empathy among those people. These nights blend the authenticity and hype-free discipline of storytelling as an art form, with the truthfulness, community-building and empowerment.
Over the past year, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar has collected hundreds of these rum bottles, which would have otherwise ended up as trash, to support this endeavor. “These bottles came from rum-producing regions all over the world, says The Breadfruit & Rum Bar Co-Owner, Dwayne Allen. “Each bottle has been carefully considered and crafted to embody the spirit its origin. These bottles have intrinsic value and can serve to inspire and delight just as they did when they were filled with rum. As they collect dust, their labels fade, they crack and chip from neglect. Similarly, the Phoenix Center for the Arts campus, though well-used and well-loved, is cracked, chipped, and faded. It deserves to be ‘dusted off’ and given a chance to shine as our front door to downtown Phoenix.”
Phoenix Center for the Arts is a non-profit operated City of Phoenix facility that borders Margaret T. Hance Park (also known as the Deck Park) on Third Street, just north of Roosevelt. The City acquired the campus – a former Baptist church – in 1975 when construction of Interstate 10 began. Since then, the facility has continued to serve thousands of Valley residents each and every year. The Center has truly blossomed in the past 4 years since “going nonprofit,” having grown by nearly 500% since 2011. Most recently, the buzz behind the new Hance Park Master Plan has increased the Center’s visibility and bolstered community awareness of Phoenix Center for the Arts’ role in shaping our local culture and arts community.
The southbound Third Street corridor has long been considered a major gateway to downtown Phoenix. It offers a magnificent view of the Downtown skyline that ushers motorist and pedestrians into the urban heart of the City of Phoenix, as well as the State of Arizona. One cannot help but notice the historic red brick building, which boasts a majestic staircase and monumental pillars. The mere sight of it conjures memories of downtown Phoenix in its formative years.
“Unfortunately, as it sits today, this great piece of our community’s history is in a state of relative disrepair, says State Representative, Ken Clark. “We are excited to work with community leaders to bring back the building’s original charm in support of arts in Arizona.” The building itself is 84 years old and has served the community as an Arts Center for nearly 40 years. In fact, the Spirit of the Arts event will serve as the first of many Anniversary events.
Joseph Benesh, Director of Phoenix Center for the Arts states: “This is about placemaking and historic preservation. Our objective is to return the Phoenix Center for the Arts facade to a state that accurately represents the value of its history, the importance it holds for our community today, and the potential it will possess in years to come.”
Roosevelt Neighborhood property owners, business representative and interested citizens recently gathered at the Roosevelt Community Church for a Community Forum that provided insights into what communities can achieve with a Business Improvement District (BID).
While the proposed Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill BID has been a work in progress since last year, the Community Forum was the first opportunity for the general public to understand the process and its potential impact on our downtown.
Dave Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., opened the presentation by pointing out “we are in the midst of building the urban heart of our city right now.” Unlike eastern cities or the coastal cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, Phoenix is very young and Krietor noted that “we have a unique opportunity to collectively plan for and build the city we want, district by district.”
The next level of development in the life of the city is happening now in our unique downtown districts and neighborhoods. Increasingly, these areas are coming together to build on those infrastructure bones to create and enhance vibrant neighborhoods that truly bring our urban core to life. A shining example of this important community building has been happening for the last 15 to 20 years in the Roosevelt/Evans Churchill area, which Krietor referred to as “Ground Zero for neighborhood and community building in downtown Phoenix.”
Learning From Others
Three different forum presenters provided their insights into the success of Business Improvement Districts in San Diego, Sacramento and elsewhere, including examples of how participating in a BID assessment has given area property owners an important seat at the table in their cities. They emphasized how property owners in these districts were empowered to make important decisions that have protected and developed the unique features and elements of their neighborhoods.
- Jimmy Parker, San Diego’s Gaslamp District. The success of this BID has meant a $10 return on every dollar invested through the assessment. The Gaslamp District also has developed the highest concentration of affordable housing and the highest concentration of hotels in the city.
- Liz Studebaker, Midtown Sacramento Studebaker’s references to this BID seemed to most resemble the Roosevelt Neighborhood. She explained how the district has been able to support the property owners desire that the arts be a significant defining feature of their neighborhood, followed closely by “third place” amenities such as food, coffee, beer and spirits. As a result of the success of their BID they have developed a much stronger connection with the city and have a direct line to the police for trash abatement and security.
- Allison Harnden, nighttime economy consultant. Harnden showed how planning for nightlife is key, and she pointed out that Roosevelt/Evans Churchill is in a unique position to carefully plan for all of the important elements that will support a thriving nighttime economy in the area.
Locals Weigh In
Greg Esser of the Roosevelt Row CDC and Tim Sprague, of Habitat Metro, a local residential and commercial property developer pointed out that the BID offers an opportunity for self-governance and a collective voice. Sprague openly admitted he’s in the “middle” in terms of his support for the district, but said “It’s a chance to work as a cohesive group.”
The forum concluded with a presentation by Nancy Hormann, the BID consultant who has been working with neighborhood stakeholders the past year to determine what services they want for their area and to develop a proposed workplan.
The consensus is that the added services should include management and administration of the workplan, beautification, added clean and safe services, a parking plan, business and development assistance, event management, and marketing & branding of the area. The estimated cost for these additional services would be $375,000. The city will contribute $75,000 (as an area property owner) and the remaining $300,000 would come from the property owners tax assessment.
By mid-June the final proposed workplan and assessments will be mailed to every property owner (with the exception of single family homeowners, or owners of multi-unit properties with four units or less) in the defined area, which runs east/west from 7th St. to 7th Ave., and from Fillmore St. on the south to Moreland/Hance Park on the north. Property owners will be asked to express whether they support the proposed BID, do not support it, or need further information.
Over the summer months, Nancy and her team will work to reach every property owner to answer questions and provide all of the information they need. Since the total assessment is $300,000, property owners representing $150,001 are needed for the BID to move forward to City Council for approval in the fall.
Property owners can learn more about what’s next for the proposed Roosevelt/Evans-Churchill area BID workplan and assessment by contacting Nancy Hormann directly at Hormann Associates.
Last year, Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill property owners proposed developing a new Business Improvement District (BID) for their area to the City. In April 2014 the Phoenix City Council approved funding for the group to assess the viability of the opportunity. Read our previous story here.
Following months of work, the group is coming together to host a Community Forum on Thursday, May 28, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Roosevelt Community Church. The Forum will showcase the success of BIDs in other cities, and outline the proposed investment for Roosevelt.
With the help of long-time BID professional Nancy Hormann of Hormann & Associates, the property owners have been working hard to determine a work plan and budget that will both support the arts character of the area and encourage thoughtful economic development to support their collective vision.
“This is a peer-to-peer process,” says Hormann, “Over the last 12 months, through focus groups, surveys, one-on-one meetings, and group workshops, the property owners determined the type and level of services needed to make a difference in their district. This forum is the first time people who are not property owners are being invited to listen to what’s going on.”
The forum will feature an introduction by Dave Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix, Inc., a panel of three BID professionals sharing stories of the remarkable impact BIDs have had on their respective cities, and representatives from the Roosevelt BID Working Group, who will share the work they’ve done over the last year.
So what exactly is a BID and why is it important? A BID is a public/private mechanism that allows property owners within a defined area to fund district-specific improvements, services and activities through a self-imposed and self-governed property assessment. These assessments provide services that are above and beyond what the city can provide. And they’ve been very successful. Over 1500 BIDs are currently active in cities throughout North America and their success stories are impressive.
Currently, the only existing BID in Phoenix is the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, which covers 90 square blocks of the downtown core.
Dave Krietor articulates what this has meant for Phoenix. “The core BID came from a vision created by the Phoenix Community Alliance back in the late 1980’s. Downtown business leaders saw what was happening in other cities and recognized that creating a BID would be integral to revitalizing our downtown.” He adds, “You only need to look at what’s happened in downtown to see that the core has been reinvented. The BID created a focal point and a center of gravity to revitalize downtown. Now this powerful, effective tool is available for property owners in the Roosevelt/Evans Churchill district to take advantage of to improve and sustain their neighborhood.”
But “seeing is believing” and the BID Community Forum will provide an inspiring vision of what can be accomplished. Three BID professionals will share stories of how their districts have developed and the significant impact they’ve had on their respective cities, including: Jimmy Parker, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter executive director; Elizabeth Studebaker, Midtown Sacramento; and Allison Harnden, a longtime BID professional who has worked with 45 BID Districts nationwide. In addition, Roosevelt/Evans Churchill BID working group representatives including Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row CDC, Tim Sprague, Habitat Metro LLC, and consultant Nancy Hormann will provide a quick overview of the Roosevelt area work plan, budget and assessment, outline next steps, and take questions from the audience.
If you go:
What: BID Community Forum
When: Thursday, May 28, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: Roosevelt Community Church, 924 N. 1st Street, Phoenix
Cost: Free and open to the public.
RSVP: Space is limited. RSVP requested here.
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Roosevelt Row CDC Receives Significant 2014 ArtPlace Grant for Creative Placemaking
An innovative new model for affordable artist live/work spaces will be coming soon to Roosevelt Row thanks to ArtPlace America. Today, ArtPlace announced Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation (CDC) as one of 55 national grantees to receive significant funding to support the nationally-recognized artists’ district. Roosevelt Row CDC will receive $90,000 to support a creative placemaking shipping container pilot project, addressing the ongoing need for permanent affordable housing for artists in downtown Phoenix.
“Thanks to ArtPlace, we are once again demonstrating the huge impact that an artist-driven district can have in fostering a healthy, vibrant downtown community,” said Vermon Pierre, Board President of Roosevelt Row CDC. “This project is exactly what Phoenix needs to further support the critical role of artists in our urban core.”
The shipping container pilot project is one step towards a broader portfolio to make Phoenix a more artist-friendly community. The project will consist of renovated and refurbished containers, providing permanent creative spaces where downtown artists can create and exhibit their work to the community while also providing an affordable place to call home in the heart of Roosevelt Row. The containers will also offer street-level activation through storefront gallery spaces. This project supports Roosevelt Row CDC’s mission to create a livable, walkable vibrant arts community through collaborative and creative efforts that encourage sustainable growth and innovation for future development.
“Investing in and supporting the arts has a profound impact on the social, physical, and economic futures of communities,” said ArtPlace Executive Director Jamie L. Bennett. “Projects like these demonstrate how imaginative and committed people are when it comes to enhancing their communities with creative interventions and thoughtful practices.”
The pilot project will be located in the downtown community along Roosevelt Street as an example of what is possible for future development in the arts community. In addition to building the pilot project, the goals of the effort include making shipping containers, or “cargotecture” more accessible by establishing “open source” plans.
“We’re tremendously excited to take this effort utilizing shipping containers for creative placemaking to the next level, in partnership with the City of Phoenix and other collaborators,” said Greg Esser, artist and co-founder of Roosevelt Row CDC.
Photos courtesy of Roosevelt Row showcasing the Hot Box Gallery opening, grant-funded from their first ArtPlace award.
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eye lounge: a contemporary art space [sic] celebrates 15 years of exhibitions and welcomes new arts venture
In 1999, a group of graduate art students at the Arizona State University School of Art were concerned with the lack of opportunities to exhibit contemporary artwork in Phoenix. In response, they founded eye lounge: a contemporary art space, an artist-run collective dedicated to creating exhibition opportunities for artists. In 2001, the group moved into its permanent location at 419 East Roosevelt Street in a building owned and managed by founding members Greg Esser and Cindy Dach. This year marks the 15-year anniversary for the collective.
Since its founding, the venue has hosted more than 500 one-person and group exhibitions. Many member artists have continued on to representation in commercial galleries in Arizona and nationally and to tenured teaching positions throughout the U.S. eye lounge was a founding gallery of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation.
Significantly more opportunities exist now for emerging and established artists to exhibit in downtown Phoenix than ever before. “The relocation of Bentley Projects and, more recently, Lisa Sette Gallery from Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix bode well for the maturation of the downtown Phoenix arts scene,” says Dach. “The vibrancy of this area is almost unrecognizable now from where we started.”
In an effort to create new opportunities for incoming artists to establish roots in the Roosevelt Row Artists’ District, eye lounge is reconfiguring its building footprint to welcome a new artist venture into the space. Beginning June 2014, ASU School of Art alum, photographer and educator Stephen Gittins will open his business, Capture 12, in 417 East Roosevelt, the western bay of the building.
“We’re very excited to have Capture 12 join the space,” says Esser. “Capture 12’s classes, workshops and exhibitions will add even more street level activation to this storefront on Roosevelt Street. This area has a strong history of supporting photographers, and this neighborhood, with its murals and authentic ‘funky’ building fabric, has become one of the most photographed areas of Phoenix.”
The new configuration more closely echoes the original purpose of the two individual storefronts built more than 50 years ago. Esser explains, “We’re very fortunate to have met the adults who grew up in each of the buildings that we have renovated in this neighborhood. The Beck family lived in the home which now houses Made Art Boutique. In 1949, when this was a very vibrant pedestrian-focused mixed-use neighborhood, the Beck family built the eastern storefront addition. One year later, they completed the western storefront addition. The family’s son, though he left the area decades ago before it went into decline, now comes back to his old neighborhood to attend First Fridays and purchase artwork and is thrilled with how the area has evolved.”
The parking lot to the west of eye lounge housed a separate craftsman bungalow-style single family home until the late 1960s. Plans are underway to develop additional new artist venues at this location. Events and a publication to mark the 15-year anniversary of eye lounge are currently in development.