Arts-Based Community Development Convening
Transforming Post-Industrial Cities through Art and Innovation
April 12 through 14, 2012 - St. Louis


THANK YOU TO ALL THE ATTENDEES! What a wonderful, mindful, idea full, heart full few days!

We recorded, noted and documented. We will add to the Resources as we are able to upload. To quote the song of the Rev. Al Green: “Let’s stay together . . . .”

April 12-14, 2012 in St. Louis

Ideas. Discussions. Panels. Performances. Workshops. And more.

The Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC) invites you to join artists of all disciplines, community organizers, social service providers, educators, architects, funders, academics, creatives, and policy-makers for Rustbelt to Artist Belt : At the Crossroads— Arts-based Community Development Convening – April 12-14, 2012.

Be a part of the conversation about art, social change and community development.

This convening, which builds on past conferences through Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC), and RAC’s 2010 At the Crossroads conference, aims to generate a discussion on the artist’s role in facilitating social change, community development, and regeneration. Like the Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute, the convening is designed as a cross-sector forum for learning, sharing, and exchange. Participants ranging from artists to policy-makers will contribute to a collaborative and interactive forum.

Rustbelt to Artist Belt : At the Crossroads anticipates approximately 300 practitioners of arts-based community development programs and collaborations. Individual sessions will vary in capacity from 25 to 100 participants to full plenary sessions with all participants.

Rustbelt to Artist Belt : At the Crossroads – Arts-Based Community Development Convening is sponsored by the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC) and Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) in Cleveland with support by the Ford Foundation and Leveraging Investments in Creativity.

It is funded, in part, by the Kresge Foundation and the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission.

Special thanks to media partners Nine Network of Public Media, KDHX-FM 88.1, and 11 Magazine as well as Detroit Creative Corridor, STL-Style, Chi Chi LLC, Alchemy 7 Creative, and ArtDimensions Gallery @ 2720 Cherokee Performing Arts Center.

Thanks also to all the venues, businesses, artists and neighbors of Cherokee Street.

More Info:

St. Louis Regional Arts Commission Hosts “Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads” Convening April 12 – 14

National event focuses on community development through the arts

ST. LOUIS – March 2 , 2012 – The Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute of the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC) along with the Cleveland Community Partnership for Arts & Culture (CPAC) present “Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads Arts-Based Community Development,” a national convening to be held from April 12 through 14 at the Chase Hotel and Conference Center in St. Louis. For complete information visit (Facebook: At the Crossroads: Community Arts & Development Convening and Twitter: @crossroadsarts #RBTAB2012)

This event unites two separate conferences for the first time:

“Rustbelt to Artist Belt,” which has been held previously in Cleveland and Detroit, focuses on how to revitalize industrial cities by integrating the efforts of artists and community developers.

“At the Crossroads: A Community Arts and Development Convening,” was created by RAC in 2010 as the first national conference on community arts, which describes a wide range of initiatives by artists/art organizations in partnership with human service agencies, community organizers and community developers designed to affect positive social change.

Jill McGuire, executive director of RAC, said, “We are excited to continue exploring the role of creative place-making in revitalizing our cities. RAC is looking forward to welcoming artists, architects, planners, community leaders, creatives and policy makers for a lively exchange of ideas and to learn about successful initiatives in different communities.”

Roseann Weiss, RAC’s Director of Community Art Programs & Public Art Initiatives, who runs the CAT Institute, added, ”Our colleagues from the ‘Rust Belt’ – cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and Philadelphia – will join community arts activists from all over the United States and from other places such as Ireland to examine how we can regenerate our neighborhoods in the most creative, dynamic ways.”

One example in St. Louis of the Rustbelt to Artist Belt movement is in north St. Louis. The Old North Restoration Group, lead by executive director Sean Thomas, is working to transform an underserved neighborhood into a lively, sustainable community. It has used public arts projects to energize the area, including a public poetry trail of 11 banners with poems by Langston Hughes, painted murals in windows of abandoned building, sculptures in the butterfly garden, exhibits in the Gallery and outdoor film screenings for children. One of the newest projects is the Northside Workshop, created by award-winning artist and cultural activist Juan William Chavez. The community art center, which opens this spring, is housed in a renovated historic brick building and will be used for a diverse range of events, engaging residents and inviting visitors to participate in arts production, art exhibits, concerts and classes.

Arts and culture have a strong impact in community development and regeneration. Theaters, galleries, concert venues and public arts projects put “feet on the street” which improves public safety and energizes urban areas. They also pave the way for other businesses to take root including restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques, resulting in economic development for the area.

“Rustbelt to Artist Belt” will focus on many of these success stories and featured speakers include some of the most respected experts in the field, including Bill Cleveland of the Center for the Study of Art and Community in Seattle, WA; Arlene Goldbard, author of New Creative Community; and Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza, co-directors of Animating Democracy, a national program sponsored by Americans for the Arts (AFTA).

Among the participants will be a group from Dublin, Ireland, led by Senator Marie-Louise O’Donnell, who is a supporter of Blue Drum, an Irish community arts and social service organization.

Presentations of new scholarship, workshops and discussions will allow people in diverse social practices to connect and engage in forums that inspire new ideas and community collaboration.

The closing party on Saturday, April 14 – “Cherokee Street Saturday Night” – celebrates how the arts have helped revitalize this St. Louis neighborhood. Free and open to the public, from 6 to 8 p.m. stores on Cherokee Street will be open from Indiana St. to Virginia St., with food trucks and street entertainment. At 8 p.m. the party moves to Art Dimensions, 2720 Cherokee St. and the public is invited. This event has been planned in conjunction with Cherokee businesses and artists, led by Randy and Jeff Vines of StL-Style (

Register at by clicking on “REGISTRATION” in the toolbar. To make hotel reservations with special rates at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, click on “TRAVEL” in the toolbar on the website.

For more information, contact Roseann Weiss at or 314/863-5811.

“Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads” is sponsored by RAC and CPAC with support from the Ford Foundation and Leveraging Investments in Creativity and is funded, in part, by the Kresge Foundation and the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission. The Detroit Creative Corridor Center provided marketing support along with Nine Network of Public Media, KDHX-FM 88.1 and 11 Magazine.

About the Regional Arts Commission – The Regional Arts Commission (RAC) is a cultural catalyst in the St. Louis area, providing financial, technical, promotional and other support for arts organizations. Since 1985, RAC has awarded more than 5,600 grants totaling more than $73 million, funded by a portion of the hotel/motel room sales tax. In May 2011, 189 of the area’s arts organizations, consortiums and cultural programs, large and small, received grant awards totaling more than $2.7 million. Directed by a board of 15 commissioners appointed by the chief executives of St. Louis City and County, RAC is a pivotal force in the continuing development and marketing of the arts in the region. (314) 863-5811 On the Loop at 6128 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, Mo., 63112. Visit our cultural calendar or follow us on FACEBOOK at Regional Arts Commission or TWITTER at RACStLouis

About the Community Arts (CAT) Training Institute – Created in 1997, the CAT Institute is an innovative program based on the idea that art can be used as an agent of positive social change. The CAT Institute provides a professional level, comprehensive training program for artists, social service providers and community activists working in community settings such as neighborhood organizations, social service agencies and after-school programs. The fellows grapple with program planning and adaptability, partnership development, hands-on projects, teaching and situational strategies, and assessment tools. To date 200 fellows have graduated and are working in the community on a variety of projects, many of which were designed during their fellowships. Recently the Kresge Foundation awarded a grant to expand the CAT Institute to include graduate-level curriculum and to develop a new model for community arts training. In 2012 the CAT Institute will host the second national conference for practitioners of community arts called “Rustbelt to Artist Belt: At the Crossroads.” For more information, visit

About the Cleveland Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC) – CPAC is a nonprofit arts and culture service organization dedicated to strengthening and unifying greater Cleveland’s arts and culture sector. Since its founding in 1997, the organization has accomplished this through a range of programs and services within its core competencies of capacity building, public policy and research. For more information, visit

Please note:

The conference venue is wheelchair accessible. For any other accommodations, please request as soon as possible and at least 7 days in advance of the conference. Email Christian Frommelt at or phone at 314/863-5811.

There is valet parking at the Kingshighway entrance to the Chase Hotel and Conference Center. We recommend the 3rd level of the Parking Garage (entrance on Maryland) near the wheelchair lift at the entrance.