How Artists and Organizations Will Transform the Coachella Valley

Artists have an unusual way of looking at things, and given the chance they can imagine solutions to issues that befuddle even the brightest of city planners — especially when it comes to creating communities that celebrate authenticity and attract visitors.

Think about how creative people could transform downtown Indio or Coachella into vibrant destinations with live music, performance, art, and films. Or how they could increase engagement at local parks, libraries, and other public spaces as well as private businesses across the valley.

Ben Stone discusses cultural tourism and placemaking at the full-day workshop Oct. 12 at UCR Palm Desert.

This is the stuff of placemaking, one of the topics Ben Stone will discuss Oct. 12 during a full-day workshop, Big Strategies and Real Tactics for Connecting Artists, Audience, and Place, at UCR Palm Desert. The California Desert Arts Council is presenting the workshop with Americans for the Arts’ National Arts Marketing Project. REGISTER

Stone, director of arts and culture at Washington, D.C.-based Smart Growth America, works with urban and community planners around the United States on issues ranging from land-use policy to public transit and has a special knack for leveraging the arts to elevate a place.

Prior to joining the organization, Stone was director of Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District, a once-blighted area now bustling with artist live-work spaces, galleries, rowhomes, and businesses in the neighborhoods of Charles North, Greenmount West, and Barclay. Stone’s arts-based revitalization and placemaking strategy propelled the area into a nationally recognized creative hub while maintaining its diverse population of locals and visitors.

“My job was to get people to buy into the concept and work collaboratively,” says Stone, who designed his plan around existing assets. “People outside the arts and culture world were talking about the arts scene in the district. Even the mayor was talking about it. I said let’s use this to leverage the thing that you all want. There are a lot of challenges that can be solved if addressed collectively. Working together brings down costs, promotes the [arts] district mentality, and drives audiences to the place.”

At the workshop, Stone will talk in specifics about how artists, businesses, public officials and agencies, and neighborhood and cultural organizations can unify and program communities — and then promote the fruits of their labor through cultural tourism marketing.

Another presenter on Oct. 12, Joseph Yoshitomi of Straightforward Management and Consulting, will provide high-impact/low-cost tactics to market and attract and nurture audiences for arts organizations.

Register now for Big Strategies and Real Tactics for Connecting Artists, Audience, and Place.


PHOTO: Courtesy Station North Arts & Entertainment Inc.