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.


  • 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.