The Pioneers Of Gentrification

Creative class or not, Philadelphia artists are making a tangible impact on the city's neighborhoods, with support from major donors, and developers looking to cash in.

February 1, 2006, 9:00 AM PST

By David Gest


"The modelâ€"artists move in, fix a place up and make it attractive to investors who inevitably price the artists outâ€"is seen as so reliable that nonprofit real estate developers and community groups now look for ways to attract and retain artists in hopes of jumpstarting a neighborhood's economy."

"While organizations dream up projects that are years away from construction and the city remains conspicuously absent from the discussion, right now artists are shoveling pigeon shit, erecting walls and hearing their first gunshots. It's hard work being a pioneer of gentrification. The painters, sculptors and dancers don't care much for the theory that they are harbingers of urban renewal, although according to economist Kevin Gillen they are 'canaries in the coal mine.' They just want to make art and live frugally."

"In a city coping with a high murder rate, rampant political corruption and a dearth of affordable housing, that's understandable. Because arts and culture are not tangible, it's difficult to get a handle on their significance."

Thursday, January 26, 2006 in Philadelphia City Paper

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