I have to admit that I had never heard of the Paducah Artist Relocation Program before it was recently brought up in the CU forums. If you’re unfamiliar yourself, I’ll give you a few minutes to read through that link to the CU discussion, and also the official PaducahArts.com website. Lots of good information on there. Take your time.
Done? Ok, good.
So basically, what this leaves me thinking is that Columbus can do something like this with ease. We’ve already got some similar programs in place. There’s assistance from the city to purchase cheap land or buildings to redevelop. There’s special grants and loans that can be handed out to those who qualify for them. The only problem is that there’s no central resource to help artists get started with these types of projects. And that’s a big problem, because while creative, a lot of artists either don’t have the time or the mindset to research business plans and figure out how they can get the resources together to execute the plans that they’ve come up with. For every Chop Chop or Artful Dodger, there’s a dozen other artists/entrepeneurs sitting back and saying “Wow, I wish I could do something like that”. Well, they can! And the city needs to give them a helping hand!
The Short North is an example of what artists can do to a neighborhood. 25 years ago that place was a dump. It was the neighborhood you rolled up your windows and sped through to get between OSU and Downtown. Now it’s turned into then neighborhood where you roll down your windows and cruise slowly through.
Everyone these days wants to point at Franklinton as “The New Short North“, and rightfully so, because that neighborhood looks a lot like the Short North did 25 years ago.
The question we have to ask ourselves is do we want to let the artists revamp it by themselves and take 25 years to turn it around, or should the city help them out and turn it around in 5 years?