I've been listening to Columbia Department of Planning's Kimberley Driggens give example after example of art and culture 'temporiums'. The point, is that they have all helped, as she describes it, "build a constituency for your plan".
With a department of planning grant, 34 crafters and artists came together to serve 800 people in the first hour, and generate $31,000 in sales in 24 consecutive days.
As one of four art and culture temporiums launched last summer, focused on four different communities, Lumen8 Anacostia used a grant from Artplace America, properties owned by private owners (these temporiums are a great marketing tool for developers, she notes) to deliver a three month-long arts festival that transformed the historic area of Anacostia through temporary illumination of shops and buildings coupled with exhibitions and events.
Loosely based on white nights arts festivals held around the world, Lumen8 was "catalytic", bringing 3,500 to 5,000 people to the opening night, improving the area's reputation over the longer term and even triggering H Street Playhouse to permanently moved to their temporary home during the festival - the previously unused police evidence warehouse.
The area plan called for enlivening retail, creating active, walkable streets and more. Using temporary street furniture and a plaza mock up, intervention recreated one of the plan's renderings to show what it would look like. They also created multi-functional furniture, and had a design-build workshop where people from the community could come in and make and paint the furniture.
What underpins all of these interventions is the idea of building capacity within the neighbourhoods and a constituency for their plan. To make that work, developing neighbourhood partnerships is key.
What's next for Driggens and her team, is a new thing: the idea of creative play - enabled through a series of adult and youth play spaces. They're launching a national design competition soon to seek innovative and creative art, to be located where "there's a dearth of play spaces".