Economics Artists News USA

Florida town turns from crime capital to cultural haven

Opa-locka hopes to lure artists and galleries from nearby Miami

Jennifer Bonner and Christian Stayner's plan to convert abandoned houses into small businesses

A former Florida state senator is teaming up with the Miami-Dade County cultural department to lure artists and galleries to a small town 13 miles north of Miami.

Opa-locka, which in 2004 had the highest rate of violent crime in the United States, has received more than $20m in federal funding to promote affordable housing and cultural development. Two recent grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) are supporting more than ten public art projects there. The artist Walter Hood is creating a landscape design in order to prevent the streets from flooding, while Jennifer Bonner and Christian Stayner are converting abandoned houses into small businesses to be managed by locals.

“Because we are a nonprofit, we’re looking to do this in a sustainable way,” says Willie Logan, the chief executive of the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation. “We aren’t going to kick artists out to build condominiums once the property values go up.”

Logan’s team has been driving artists from Miami to Opa-locka to show them available spaces—and word is travelling fast. Since purchasing studio space in Opa-locka two months ago, the artist Carlos Betancourt, who formerly had a studio in Wynwood, says he has “received several inquiries about studio space from artists as far away as Williamsburg [Brooklyn]”.


The artist Walter Hood takes visitors on a tour through Opa-locka
More from The Art Newspaper

Comments

12 Dec 13
18:51 CET

ELAINE DEFIBAUGH, MIAMI/NEW YORK

I'd love to come join your cause. I'm an artist as well, seems like it would be a great opportunity to do workshops that could make life a bit better for the local community.

Submit a comment

All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.

Email*
 
Name*
 
City*
 
Comment*
 

Want to write a longer comment to this article? Email letters@theartnewspaper.com

 

Share this