Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts: Creating Equitable, Livable Communities through Grassroots Cultural Programs

Tuesday, October 16, 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Organized by Caron Atlas, director, Arts & Democracy Project; Melanie Cohn, executive director, Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island; Michael Spring, director, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs; Edwin Torres, associate director, The Rockefeller Foundation.

Presented by Tamara Greenfield, executive director, Fourth Arts Block; Chancee Martorell, executive director, Thai Community Development Center.

Space is limited at offsite sessions, so a ticket is re­quired. Tickets will be avail­able at the reg­is­tration desk beginning at 7:00 am on Tuesday mor­ning. If the tickets for a session are all gone, you will know that it is full and can make another choice.

Buses for offsite sessions will depart from the main entrance of the hotel at 2:00 pm on Tuesday.

This session will explore the power of neighborhood-based arts and culture as an integral part of equitable, democratic, and culturally vital communities. Using case studies from Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City, this salon session will examine how Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts (NOCDs) respond to the vision, sustained needs, and creative resilience of low-income communities, and consider the role that critically-timed private and public investments can make in helping NOCDs succeed. The session will also examine how the efforts of NOCDs are bringing about significant changes within a variety of communities—and will create a space for session attendees to share their successes and challenges and learn from each other. In a moment when an awareness of economic inequity and heightened civic engagement are encouraging people to take action, the session will illustrate how creativity can be a part of a transformative vision for the future.

The NOCD-NY working group brings together a unique alliance of artists, activists, creative manufacturers, and policymakers that are committed to revitalizing New York City from the neighborhood up.

The Thai Community Development Center was founded in April 1994 to support the idea that all peoples have a basic right to a decent standard of living and quality of life.

Fourth Arts Block (FAB) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by cultural and community groups to establish and advance the East 4th Street Cultural District, between 2nd Avenue and Bowery.

Session Location: MDC’s Tower Theater
When MDC’s Tower Theater originally opened in 1926, it was the finest state-of-the-art theater in the South. In the early 1960s, Cuban refugees fled to Miami and the theater became a cultural hub where new residents could become accustomed to American culture. Soon, the theater began presenting English-language films with Spanish subtitles and Spanish-language films for its audiences. The theater was reopened in 2002 by Miami Dade College and now serves as a historic gathering place for Little Havana with films, exhibitions, performances, and free educational lectures.