Friday, July 18, 2014

Ideal City

In an ideal City, the powers that be and the developers who own them, would understand the socio-cultural value of art and want to sustain it, not just address it parasitically, as is currently done. We would not see a leapfrog game where art and artists come in and literally rescue entire neighborhoods blighted by bad planning and irresponsible development. These ghettos and deserted areas did not happen by chance. A very few cashed out and left them to die, gutted in a game of musical chairs.

Bringing them back into a habitable, income-and-tax generating form is done via vacuuming public funds into developers' and banks' pockets. It takes artists  to plant the seeds of recovery. Look at the 600 block of Saint Pete (or Soho, South Beach, Chelsea, ad infinitum) . The moment artists create buzz about an area, with shops, cafes, galleries moving in, and human traffic, parasitical developers swoop in, and the first thing they do is to push the artists out, thus guaranteeing the eventual demise and failure of the area.

In Saint Petersburg we see this as artists make an area fluorish, then they are evicted out. The result is unsound, unsustainable development, in fits and starts (and boom and busts).  Is this the way we want to live? The legacy we want to leave behind?

The presence of the artists is essential to a thriving, sustainable community, just like parks, roads and water. This has been proven true in case after case (as outlined above). It is time for governments and community-minded developers (if there are any) to shift the paradigm -- for the enrichment of everyone, cultural, financial and spiritual.

 Let's become a first-rate, high-quality arts destination.

--- Luis

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