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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Creativity as an asset in city of gentrification
ASC dialogue with artists on May 17
 
Published Thursday, May 16, 2019 12:19 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | TROY HULL
The Arts & Science Council is facilitating dialogue on leveraging creativity to strengthen communities impacted by gentrification May 17 at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

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Charlotte’s growth highlights its affordable housing problem.


The Arts & Science Council will facilitate a dialogue around leveraging creativity to strengthen communities and address affordability on May 17 from 8-11 a.m. at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1000 E. Morehead St. Presenters include a combination of artists, researchers and civic leaders: spoken word storyteller Hannah Hasan, image activist Alvin C. Jacobs, artist M. Simone Boyd, Kim Graham executive director of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association, theater artist Rebecca Martinez and Danya Sherman of ArtPlace America.


Hasan will close the event with a poem, challenging placemakers to create a community where home is the priority.


“Sometimes as a human, I can feel really angry, sad, upset and frustrated about what’s happening with affordable housing in Charlotte and in our country,” Hasan said. “It gave me permission not only to speak truth about that, but to explore why this is so important. It took me going to the People & Places Conference in Washington D.C. to really think about that this is about so much more than a house, or even community. It’s about what is home, and why is it so important to us? What does it represent for who we are as a people, and what does it say if people in our community don’t have that, and can’t afford to have that?”


Said Jacobs: “We’ve got some issues that Charlotte has historically refused to openly address. It’s been under the guise of urban redevelopment and becoming a world-class city. The problem with that has been many people who were already close to the margins are being pushed out. If you’ve anchored this community for decades, and now all of the sudden your contributions have visibly been made less than valuable, you’re at a disadvantage with many of the new benefits that the gentrification is bringing to investors.”


Jacobs challenges the gentrification taking place in Charlotte’s traditional artsy areas, such as NoDa and Plaza Midwood.


“These areas that were traditionally artists havens where people could work and live,” Jacobs said. “That’s no longer the case. ‘Thank you for making this area prettier. Thank you for helping us beautify it, but you’ve gotta go.’ That seems to be the narrative throughout the city. It’s ‘we need your art. We appreciate your art, but we’ve got what we need. Thank you for coming.’”


The Charlotte region expands by 60 people per day, putting more pressure on the region’s housing stock.


“Creating conversations around art makes that a little more palatable,” Jacobs said.


Said ASC Senior Vice President, Community Investment, Katherine Mooring: “Housing is one of our most basic needs, not only for the shelter and security it provides, but because it directly impacts our access to other critical needs such as health care, schools and food. The arts are one of the most powerful tools we have in bringing attention and awareness to the housing challenges many residents in our community are facing.


More specifically, the arts can help unmask underlying issues taxing our most vulnerable neighborhoods while also engaging and empowering residents to ensure their voices are heard when housing and development decisions are being made.”


When Jacobs spoke on his residency at the Harvey B. Gantt Center, he touched on wanting to create curriculum and his desire to foster young talent. It led to collaborations with high schools like Northwest School of the Arts and West Charlotte, working with students who feel the weight of gentrification.  


“This generation, the 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds are more aware than we ever were, because of the relevance of social media, and how it plays as an informational portal in their lives,” Jacobs said. “A child who grew up in the 1980s didn’t know why his or her neighborhood was changing, but these teenagers know exactly what is happening.


“These conversations have a lot of them afraid, because they don’t know where they are going to live, where their parents are going to work, where they are going to go to school, because all those areas of their lives are being impacted. It’s not like, ‘OK, well things are going to get better in the neighborhood,’ well that’s great, but that doesn’t mean that you have been chosen to stay.’ When other people move in, that often means that you have to move out.”


Tickets are $10.
On the Net:
http://connect.artsandscience.org

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