A CULTURAL AND ECONOMIC SUCCESS
One of the most trans formative arts and community development models can be found in Mount Rainier, Maryland, located on the north east border of Washington, DC. C-VP Founder Stephen Shaff’s initiative to create a cooperative artist space on Mt. Rainier’s blighted Main Street evolved into what is now Joe’s Movement Emporium – a community performing arts, education and cultural center that's had a transformative impact on the entire community.
When first opened, JME was a small storefront dance studio located within one block of three thriving open drug markets. Its original purpose of being just a dance studio quickly grew to offer many services, youth programs and a venue for the arts that drew thousands of residents and participants to its facility. But, its impact quickly expanded beyond its studio wall.
PROFOUND COMMUNITY IMPACT
- Drug trade and its related crime dramatically decreased within months of opening
- Programs to serve children and other community needs were developed
- Neighboring businesses improved
- New businesses were attracted to the community
- Artist residents and home ownership increased
- Job creation increased
- Sense of Community dramatically increased with Joe’s at its center
- Metro DC area perception of Mt Rainier changed dramatically
- Three adjacent empty storefronts were taken over by JME expansion
- A 20,000 square foot blighted warehouse one block away was purchased and developed by JME (fully paid for by a multi-million dollar capital campaign)
- Gateway Arts District evolved directly from JME’s impact.
- The center's impact has been replicated in other communities including the Emergence Community Arts Collaborative.
Joe’s now serves over 70,000 participants a year; offers hundreds of performances annually; provides a number of youth services, after-school, arts, arts tech job training and summer camp programs; and, employs several dozen residents and artists. It’s become a community center for civic gatherings, functions and political events.
The JME model can, and has been replicated to serve other similar under-served communities. Best practices and lessons learned from JME’s experience will be central component of C-VP’s cultural and community development initiatives.