A Conversation on the Contentious Relationship Between the Arts and Community Development

On May 10 at Flux Factory, four representatives from community-oriented cultural initiatives in New York City will discuss how the arts both hasten and hinder gentrification.

Installation view of Decolonize This Place at Artists Space during the "Chinatown Is Not for Sale" event
Installation view of Decolonize This Place at Artists Space during a “Chinatown Is Not for Sale” event (photo by Ilana Novick/Hyperallergic)

As anyone who’s lived in a gentrifying city knows, the relationship between art and community development is … complicated. Cultural resources can bring real value to a neighborhood, but the presence of artists and galleries can also spur rapid rent increases and real estate speculation. Those in the arts and those who love them have spent decades stuck in this cyclical quandary: how can we bring culture into communities without destroying them in the process?

That’s the subject of what should be a thought-provoking discussion happening on May 10 at Flux Factory. The four panelists represent a diverse cross section of community-oriented cultural initiatives in New York City: Mei Lum, a fifth-generation owner-in-training of her family’s porcelain shop and director of its community outreach initiative; Rosemary Reyes, who works with the Department of Cultural Affairs on the Building Community Capacity Initiative in Southeast Queens; Patrick Dougher, the program director of Groundswell; and Catherine Green, founder and executive director of ARTs East New York. Their conversation has been organized by Oksana Mironova, who’s currently a fellow at Flux, investigating the pressing question of how noncommercial arts spaces can survive and thrive in New York City. On Wednesday night, the group plans to “explore the messy relationship between community development, art, and gentrification … [and] brainstorm about potential ways to use art and culture programming and spaces to mitigate displacement.”

When: Wednesday, May 10, 7–9pm
Where: Flux Factory (39-31 29th Street, Long Island City, Queens)

More info here.

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