The Urban Idea Exchange took place on January 23 at the West End Cultural Centre.  Approximately 75 people spent the day talking about the impact of the arts on cities.

Ann Markusen of the Hubert H Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota gave a presentation called “What Can Cities Do?” in which she defined Creative Placemaking and talked about how it brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired by animating public and private spaces, improving local business viability and public safety, and broadening participation in arts and culture.

Some of the initiatives Ann highlighted included the Gordon Square Theatre District in Cleveland, Artist-designed Neighborhood-Distinctive Transit Stations in Portland, and the Frogtown Family Lofts in St Paul.  Some of Ann’s keys to success include

  • Encouraging dedicated centers for artist/designer convening, mentoring, continuing education and equipment-sharing
  • Developing sustainable artist live/work and studio buildings
  • Fostering small decentralized performance and visual arts spaces in natural cultural districts that include galleries, theatres, music venues, and multidisciplinary spaces
  • Mixing the public, nonprofit, commercial sectors together
  • Working across city agencies to support creative entrepreneurs

Dan Maginn of Eldorado Studio in Kansas City spoke about some of the projects his firm works on and how artists are an integral part of designing the cities around us.  Whether this is by creating something interesting out of something ordinary, like a bridge or a parking garage,  or by creating a unique space in a boxcar on top of a building, Dan challenged us to think differently and to create interesting spaces.

A good part of the day was spent in conversation about Winnipeg, and people really took up the challenge with great enthusiasm.  We are in the process of preparing a summary of the day’s events and when it’s finished it will be posted here at urbanidea.ca.  We are thankful to all of the people who participated in the Urban Idea Exchange and we look forward to seeing you throughout the Year of Urban Ideas.

Many thanks to our supporters: The Winnipeg Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, Economic Development Winnipeg, and the Arts and Cultural Industries Association of Manitoba

Ann Markusen (centre) chats with participants as they work on their great urban ideas

Ann Markusen (centre) chats with participants as they work on their great urban ideas

Dan Maginn of Eldorado Studio in Kansas City presents some of his firm's public art projects to an attentive crowd

Dan Maginn of Eldorado Studio in Kansas City presents some of his firm’s public art projects to an attentive crowd