The revitalizing power of the arts is a common theme on this blog, and this week Next American City noted a similar phenomenon occurring in Trenton, New Jersey.
According to this article, Trenton is an old manufacturing town that has fallen on hard times. To counter that effect and help jump-start the city, Trenton has Art All Night. As its name suggests, the event is an all-night festival every June.
Significantly, the festival isn’t just about attracting cool artists and creative types. Instead, it’s about attracting a broad and representative cross section of the community:
Rather than isolating itself, embracing only one demographic (namely the white, Bohemian type) Art All Night “has two guiding principles: inclusion and participation,” writes Peggy McGlone of The Star-Ledger.
According to Diana Moore, a volunteer coordinator at the festival, Art All Night aims to represent Trenton in its entirety. “We want to hold up a mirror to Trenton. To say, ‘You are Trenton.’” For Moore, one of the most beautiful things is seeing the Polish, black and Hispanic communities intermingling around art made by local artists.
The article later notes that while art itself may not save Trenton, “using it to reknit community bonds is a feasible goal.”
As the best city for business in America, Provo hardly needs saving. But specific areas of the city do need revitalization and as Trenton shows, the arts can be a leader — if not a sole driver — of that process.