THE LIVING CHARRETTE

Thanks to all who participated in the thinkEAST Living Charrette as part of the 2015 Fusebox Festival. Over the course of the weekend, over two thousand people experienced the Living Charrette and we are very pleased that the majority of input was given by neighborhood residents and artists. 

Participants placed stickers on large image-based boards in order to register their preferences in the categories of health, open space, education, commerce, local traditions, and more. Taken together, the input from the Living Charrette made it clear that the top priorities for both artists and neighborhood residents were focused around the themes of community health, food access, open space, and affordability.

About the Fusebox thinkEAST Living Charrette

THINKEAST LIVING CHARRETTE: SCHEDULE AT-A-GLANCE

In 2013, thinkEAST partnered with Austin based non-profit arts organizations Fusebox, the City of Austin Economic Development Office, and entrepreneur/business leader Fred Schmidt to submit a proposal to ArtPlace America to fund a planning and visioning process. ArtPlace America is dedicated to strengthening the field of creative placemaking. Creative Placemaking projects can take different shapes and forms, but at their heart they are public, private, and community partnerships that use arts, culture, and creativity to strategically shape the physical and social character of a place.  In just the past four years  ArtPlace has awarded $56.8 million through 189 grants to projects serving 122 communities across 42 states and the District of Columbia. 

ArtPlace is a collaboration among fourteen foundations, eight federal agencies, and six financial institutions: the Barr Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Surdna Foundation, and two anonymous donors. ArtPlace seeks advice and counsel from its close working relationships with the following federal agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts, the US Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation; along with leadership from the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Domestic Policy Council. ArtPlace has additional partners from six major financial institutions: Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Chase, MetLife, and Morgan Stanley.

In other words, many of our country’s heaviest hitters, and deepest pockets, are betting on creative placemaking to address issues related to urbanization and gentrification. 

In June of 2014, the thinkEAST team was selected as one of 55 recipients for ArtPlace funds from over 1,200 applicants nation-wide. The $400,000 grant marked marked the first time an organization in Austin had received such an award, and one of the largest ever awarded in the state of Texas. The financial support from ArtPlace America will support an 18-month process that puts residents, artists, local businesses and other non-profits at the center of neighborhood planning.

Managing Director of Fusebox, Brad Carlin, accepted the ArtPlace Award at Austin City Hall alongside Janet Seibert, the Civic Arts Program Consultant for the City of Austin, and owners/developers Richard deVarga and Robert Summers

Managing Director of Fusebox, Brad Carlin, accepted the ArtPlace Award at Austin City Hall alongside Janet Seibert, the Civic Arts Program Consultant for the City of Austin, and owners/developers Richard deVarga and Robert Summers

Beginning in July 2014 with a planning stage, residents, artists, city planners, and developers will work with the thinkEAST team to identify artistic programming, develop community partnerships, research stakeholder priorities, and plan a temporary built environment. This will allow us to engage deeply with the community in a new and powerful way. We want the questions, the issues, and the creativity of Govalle-Johnson Terrace neighborhood to be front and center as we imagine this site.

During the engagement stage (April 2015), thinkEAST will spark to life for 12 days through the Fusebox Festival. The programming will utilize temporary structures for performances, installations, workshops, classes, food events, youth leadership programs, and intentional tenanting from the creative industries. Over two weeks we will test, explore, and prototype strategies for creating a vibrant place of inspiration and innovation all under the umbrella of Fusebox's renown annual hybrid arts festival.

Site master and business plans for thinkEAST that will emerge through a synthesis stage (May-December 2015) will focus on strategies that preserve affordability, and create viable pathways to both ownership and long-term leasing opportunities.

Robert Summers, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Janet Seibert, Richard de Varga celebrate the ArtPlace grant at City Hall

Robert Summers, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Janet Seibert, Richard de Varga celebrate the ArtPlace grant at City Hall

What's a "Living Charrette?"

Think of a living charrette as a large, vibrant, public living room—a place to connect, test ideas, ask questions, break bread, and create together. Typical real estate development processes have a top-down approach: relatively small groups of developers and planners meeting in board rooms and make decisions that impact an entire community. Our hypothesis is that an inclusive, participatory and arts-led approach to urban development will result in a strong, sustainable, and creative community. Our planning process will emphasize testing and  putting ideas up on their feet over two-dimensional renderings and traditional focus groups.