Building Great Cities, Public Life, and Creative Citizenship

Great cities are art cities, made up of communities that are fueled by the collective imagination, aspirations, and actions of the people. We can’t make change in our cities if people do not feel empowered or inspired. It is still the privileged few who believe in their own empowerment. Great arts institutions are citizen institutions that do not equate participation with the ability to pay, but rather their ability to ignite public imagination. These are institutions that throw open their doors and offer their vast cultural resources to the civic and public life of the communities around them. What role do cultural centers play in instigating public life and creative citizenship in their communities? With a focus on an unprecedented partnership with the San Francisco Planning Department, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Market Street Prototyping Festival is one example of an arts center building cultural movement and leading change.


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