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Listening Tour Concept (page 2 of 3)

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The key questions that this process will seek to explore include:

• Is there an opportunity to create a larger field of interest in this work?

• What are the salient characteristics of successful projects that collaboratively embrace arts, culture, public space, and community development as tools for economic change in distressed communities?

• Are there common challenges and opportunities that confront practitioners employing cross- field collaborative strategies?

• Are there common circumstances and leadership skills that lead to meaningful progress in this field?

• Are there specific types of technical assistance that could be provided to projects in this field that would facilitate progress towards goals?

• What, if anything, can be done to accelerate the development and implementation of these collaborative projects? Or, is there a natural progression of time and relationship-building necessary to a successful outcome?

The Listening Tour will use the documentary "Downside UP" as its primary vehicle to illustrate one example of an innovative approach combining art, culture, and community development for economic renewal. "Downside UP" is an hour long documentary about America's largest museum of contemporary art the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) which opened in 1998 in an abandoned factory located in North Adams, Massachusetts. Told primarily through the eyes of the filmmaker Nancy Kelly and her family, most who worked in the factory before it closed, "Downside UP" renders the subtle changes in the spirit of a region from the intimate view of the kitchen table. While "Downside UP" is being used as a vehicle to stimulate thinking and discussion regarding arts, culture, and economic revitalization, it is largely a story about hope the tentative, dangerous nature of hope in a town that was widely viewed as hopeless. Not too unlike many cities and neighborhoods in urban America today.

Each of the selected sites will receive a Planning Grant to participate in the "Downside UP" Listening Tour, which will involve organizing a screening of "Downside UP." The screening will resemble a movie-going experience. It will take place in an enjoyable atmosphere: a room, screening room or theater with comfortable seating, controllable lighting, a good screen and good sound system. A facilitated discussion with a small, invited group will be part of the screening process.

The gathering opportunity will be a springboard to stimulate the thinking of community members and local practitioners regarding the general topic of innovative approaches to community renewal and more specifically the work that they are engaged in locally. The audience for these sessions is intended to include a cross-section of the general public and local practitioners from different sectors (public, private, non-profit). These practitioners will be engaged on various levels with current or potential projects.

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