Creative Life in the Gateway Arts District

Putting the “creative” in “placemaking”

ALH logo6

The Art Lives Here project is deep into the verbs of placemaking: planning, partnering, communicating, receiving ideas, finding program and spatial links, designing, selecting, and contracting for a visibility campaign centered around a year of dynamic programs and events.

What’s been going on with Art Lives Here?

Opening night of Jewel Box pop up gallery

Opening night of Jewel Box pop up gallery

On November 4th, local artists Tim McLoraine, Moon Amarche and musician Will McKindley-Ward stood up to personally reflect on the success of Phase I of the Art Lives Here (ALH) initiative and to share their visions for Phase II at the Art Lives Here Artist & Stakeholder Meeting. McLoraine shared that the Better Block initiative helped develop the pop-gallery – the Jewel Box. McKindley-Ward reported out on fledgling bands that were able to use “The Launch Pad,” an Art Lives Here funded initiative, as practice and recording space. Amarche commented on how the community landscape and use of space created a positive impact during the Southside Music Series at the Mount Rainier Skate Park – a 2-day pop-up family-friendly event.

Southside Music Series photo by Artis Moon Amarche

Southside Music Series photo by Artis Moon Amarche

Art Lives Here campaign organizers hosted the Artist & Stakeholder meeting at the Brentwood Arts Exchange in the Gateway Arts Center. Over 40 artists and community members participated in an open discussion about the second phase of the ALH campaign. The meeting agenda included a discussion around Phase I accomplishments, plans for Phase II and the release of ALH’s 2014 general Creative Placemaking Request for Proposals (RFP).

Launch Pad photo courtesy of Will McKindley-Ward

Launch Pad photo courtesy of Will McKindley-Ward

Brooke Kidd, Executive Director of Joe’s Movement Emporium, the fiscal agent for the ALH initiative, facilitated the exciting conversation behind creative placemaking and the possibilities for our community. Kidd covered the successes of Phase I of Art Live Here, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant, and outlined the action plan for the ArtPlace America funds. To download the PowerPoint presentation that outlines the Phase II goals, objectives and deliverables please click here.

What have we done?

After the presenting local artists inspired the audiences with their reflections on successful creative placemaking events from Phase I, Kidd distributed the 2014 Creative Placemaking Request for Proposals (RFP). Attendees had an opportunity to ask questions, get feedback on ideas, and share their own dreams for the future of the Gateway Arts District.

Tim McLoraine and Brooke Kidd speaking to Artist and Stakeholder Meeting. Photo by Monica Buitrago

Tim McLoraine and Brooke Kidd speaking to Artist and Stakeholder Meeting. Photo by Monica Buitrago

Here are the results:

  • Interest in developing a crowd-sourced list of potential sites for creative placemaking activities/projects/etc.

  • Desire for an inventory of potential locations for permanent and semi-permanent public art pieces.

  • Need for a community forum for people to submit their public art ideas, no matter if they are artists who can realize the project or not.

  • Excitement about the increased opportunities for more artist-led individually curated exhibitions.

  • Idea for a sculptural instrument park that allows for interaction and music making out of found objects.

  • Vision of a large-scale video projection on the U.S Route 1 Corridor.

  • Need for increased walkability – possibly using color, light, installation, and/or music in the Gateway Arts District.

  • Need to empower artists and community members to leverage Art Lives Here funding to find additional funds for projects.

  • Creation of a workshop that engages community members and teaches them proposal writing, opening the process up to more than artists and increasing the variety of ideas.

  • Need for brainstorming session on reclaiming space and transforming it, through artistic treatment, from ignored and avoided to valued and visited.

Also present at the meeting were planning partners Carole Bernard from Gateway Community Development Corporation, Stuart Eisenberg from Hyattsville Community Development Corporation, Barbara Johnson from Art Works Studio School, Phil Davis from Brentwood Arts Exchange, and Margaret Boozer from Red Dirt Studio.


What are we thinking?

ALH realizes there needs to be a wider strategy which includes strengthening relationships with local business owners and residents to be a part of the creative placemaking conversation.

Art Lives Here has received some incredible, innovative and exciting proposals since the Phase I RFPs. By using a more intensive community outreach plan to actively pursue local business, organizations, churches and community groups, ALH will be able to expand its base. By helping define what creative placemaking is and hosting events where the whole community is called upon to contribute, ALH hopes to expand access to this funding to a wider range of groups and individuals.

Art Lives Here arrow from Better Block Night in May still on Urban Eats door

Art Lives Here arrow from Better Block Night in May still on Urban Eats door

ALH understands the challenges groups can have around project management. By supporting the local community and providing workshops and technical assistance, any stakeholder in the community will feel empowered to participate in the ALH Creative Placemaking RFP.

Red Dirt Studio, Art Works Now and the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council have partnered to host a Placemaking Proposal Workshop at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville on December 10th to address this issue of access. The workshop is targeted to everyone and anyone with an idea for the Gateway Arts District. All are encouraged to apply creative thinking and problem solving and put together a complete proposal.


About neenajoe

Joe’s Movement Emporium is a cultural arts hub that acts as a catalyst for creativity and economic opportunity for all through productions and programs in education, artist services and work readiness. Located in the town center of Mount Rainier, Maryland within the Prince George’s County Gateway Arts District, the organization supports and promotes creative projects of local artists and community groups. For additional information on programs and events, please visit

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