Neighbors, business owners, artists, and other interested parties, including Sam Adams, packed Zaytoon on February 13th, for the Art on Alberta annual meeting.
Last year’s theme for the May’s Art Hop, was “Eyes on Alberta.” The theme’s mission was accomplished. Sam Adams congratulated Art on Alberta at its success in branding itself. He said that the Alberta Arts District is second only to the Pearl with its high profile in the Portland arts scene. However, the mostly volunteer and under-funded organization can no longer do it alone. Thus, they have launched the new 2008 theme of “Synergy.”
According to a blind survey by Portland State University (PSU), neighbors are proud to have community art events and want the Art Hop to continue largely as it has been. President of Art on Alberta, Joseph Blanchette, said that they were a little surprised by positive response, which has given the organization energy and information to help ensure the event’s progress and success in future years.
The PSU survey raised two major concerns regarding art events held on Alberta Street. Almost three quarters of the respondents agreed with the statement, “Foot traffic on Alberta during community events is difficult.” Eighty-nine percent thought that more public trash cans would help with the street litter after the crowds leave.
The Alberta Street Fair was the trial run for closing off Alberta from NE 15th to NE 30th. Feedback from that closure was overwhelmingly positive. Eighty percent of the survey’s respondents supported closing the street to cars between those blocks during future events.
Clearing the street of cars, taking care of the garbage and moving the event to a new level for the benefit of participants and the neighborhood is a huge undertaking. Art on Alberta has contracted with Combustible Media for the next three years to help get more sponsors and work with all parties to create a more cohesive approach to the Art Hop. The goal will be a local arts festival with recognition and prestige that is appropriate for our community.
One plan Combustible Media has is to fill the “dead zones” between artists and other attractions on the street. They hope to display neighborhood students’ artwork in the areas where nothing else is happening. They have contacted schools and are working with them to increase young artist presence at the Hop. They have divided the street into four groups of blocks, and each group has its own dedicated project manager. They welcome our feedback and ideas for the Art Hop. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments.
Attendees at the meeting acknowledged frustration with the redundant efforts and a lack of organization with an event that affects three neighborhoods – Concordia, Vernon and King. However, everyone has found common ground in closing the street to help with the traffic aggravation.
Businesswoman Rosalyn Hill was honored by Art on Alberta for her sizable contributions to the neighborhood. Fifteen years since rehabbing The Tin Shed’s building, she continues to do much of the maintenance on her properties herself. That means maintaining the landscaping, fixing the plumbing and concrete, and the many other details that go along with pride of ownership. She even empties the trash cans that she puts in front of her properties. Rosalyn Hill’s example of honoring her community and hard work is perfect inspiration for the theme of Synergy.
Sam Adams only stumped a little as he praised Art on Alberta and committed to an increase in the number of crosswalks in the neighborhood. He also recognized that arts programs in Portland aren’t getting the support they need to continue and hopes to address that issue, especially in the schools. Adams plans to look at best practices from other cities, including Houston which has far more arts funding than Portland, and is also looking at ways the city can make “arts partners” with the private sector. He encouraged business associations to cooperate with the community and also vowed to give them more support from tax revenue.
Email email@example.com for a .PDF of the PSU survey, or if you want to volunteer for May’s Art Hop.