Pop up umbrella dancing as creative placemaking

Artists and arts organizations are coming together with residents and community developers across our region to create places where we all want to be. To illustrate and celebrate this sort of people-centric arts-led community building fun, nearly 200 people co-created a dance video with umbrellas at a Feb. 3 luncheon at Rhinegeist.
The luncheon hosts, Local Initiatives Support Collaborative (LISC Cincinnati) and ArtsWave, suggested adding an arts moment at the luncheon. Art on the Streets’ Margy Waller developed the concept and produced this dance event by working with a number of local artists and Cincinnati-based totes, the world’s largest supplier of umbrellas.

Local artists were all over the video-making: Pam Kravetz created the artwork that explains how to give away the umbrella, Mike Detmer made the music for the dancing, Heather Britt developed the choreography and brought dancers from DanceFix to teach the moves and MUSICLi offered the platform for finding and licensing Detmer’s music. Ryan Lewis and his friends at Cider Mill Productions shot and edited the video.
After the lunchers co-created the dance video, they learned that they’d been using community umbrellas. Everyone was invited to share their umbrella with a neighbor, a stranger, a nonprofit or a business, replicating those community-strengthening moments when an umbrella is shared by one person entering from the rain as another, unprotected, is exiting into it.
The luncheon featured speakers from three national organizations supporting creative placemaking around the country. Lynne McCormack from LISC National, Regina Smith from the Kresge Foundation and Jamie Bennett from ArtPlace toured the area and spoke at the event, along with Sarah Allan from Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods.
LISC Cincinnati supports this work with funding from the Kresge Foundation in two partner neighborhoods, Price Hill and Walnut Hills. The goal of the two-year grant is to support residents coming together to make social, physical and economic change in their neighborhood through arts and culture. This strategy, called creative placemaking, is a way to build on the power of the arts to make positive, resident-led change in communities around the country.
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