Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District
Imagine public art installations or murals created by local artists that double as façade improvements for businesses, or pop-up galleries in vacant buildings that showcase the space to interested realtors. That’s just what Art Lives Here projects do; they leverage the community’s assets to brand the district as the desired community and a destination place.
Art Lives Here is a promotional and creative place-making campaign designed to increase regional visibility of the Gateway Arts and Entertainment District in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The campaign pairs the creative community with local businesses to create a mix of temporary projects to draw audiences and new businesses to the area as well as showcase the community’s cultural and commercial assets.
In its first phase, with the help of a $50,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Art Lives Here campaign funded over 20 events which served 2,000 plus individuals. Phase I events included Soup Nite, Better Block Night, and a community storm drain painting project. Better Block Night, which successfully attracted over 400 visitors to Mount Rainier, brought together the business and creative community to offer visitors “an evening of walkable arts entertainment” and showcase the districts offerings. “Art Lives Here programs and artists are expanding the brand of our arts district in the Washington, D.C. metro area,” said Neena Narayanan, Art Lives Here Coordinator. She added how enthusiasm from the community and range of activities are contributing to stable audiences.
The programs and artists behind them are expanding the brand of our arts district in the DC and Baltimore region are contributing to stable audiencesBusinesses that experienced slow traffic during the week were filled to capacity during Phase I; the Gallagher building which laid vacant was cleaned to make way for a pop-up performance and recording studio run by a local organization, Launch Pad. As a result, community members are organizing behind Launch Pad to help them secure permanent program space.
On June 4, 2013, Artplace America awarded the campaign a $240,000 grant for the second phase of projects. The Gateway Arts and Entertainment District was also presented with the 2013 Award for Outstanding Achievement by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development that recognized the growth occurring along the U.S. Route 1 Corridor and credited programs and other promotional initiatives similar to Art Lives Here for their work in supporting the district.