Art in all its forms makes me think: What is art? Art has long adorned the majestic walls of museums and galleries to educate us about the glorious past, it has swirled around the stage to show the rich mix of cultures present in the world, and it has also turned into melodious notes to refresh minds and souls. Art has been sculpted and embodied into prominent personalities to narrate their legacy. Art has also been characterized to sell stuff and mint money out of it.
In short, art gives birth to an idea, breaks a myth, and initiates a dialogue. But in today’s age of connected economy, art has been used as a tool to tackle some serious issues faced by local communities. Art leaders are harnessing the power of art to invite fresh perspectives on creativity, which can address the challenges faced by locals. An artist’s imagination and vision of a community can uplift and alter the lives of people economically and socially.
Recently, I got the opportunity to listen to Andy Fife speak on the subject. Andy is an artist, strategist and innovator, who has been actively working in Seattle as an art leader to solve economic, environmental and cultural issues by connecting freelance artists, art groups, public organizations and local communities. He believes in employing cultural assets creatively to solve local problems instead of pouring in heavy money and resources.
Cultural asset mapping (inventory of key resources owned by a community) should be the first step in working towards an issue rather than thinking in the confines of the four walls of an office and coming up with traditional policies to be applied to a community. Mapping assets can help locals become more informed about resources at their disposal, how they can use them and how they can participate to demand their share of scarce resources at the city level.
Art leaders and communities in various parts of the world have come together to develop design-based solutions to improve neighborhoods through locally available human and natural resources. Here are 16 ways to make your neighborhood safe.
Art, for art’s sake, has and will always be viewed and appreciated. But art – for the people, by the people and of the people – has the potential to write a new chapter in the book of humanity. And that, as Fife says, is power.