ArtInRuins, Providence, RI
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More Providence real-estate and politics than you can shake a stick at over on Greater City PVD

We at ArtInRuins believe that decay is beautiful, but not necessary. Artists live and work in the buildings that the city or developers have often forgotten, and now that Providence is becoming a hip town (or a suburb of Boston) these buildings and the artists, musicians and businesses who lived and worked in them are getting used for purposes that do not contribute to the community in the same way. We are not against new development, we are only opposed to unsustainable or irresponsible development.

Before you get all up in arms, let us define a heated buzz word; Yuppies: (noun and sometimes four-letter word) Conspicuous consumers.. they are not an age group, they are a state of mind. Yuppies aren't all bad, as they buy art and spend money at expensive restaurants. The problem is when there are too many of them, because, by our definition, Yuppies consume, they do not contribute to the larger culture. We need a balance of the spender-consumers and the producer-artists/small business owners.

To quote from “The Urban Mill Restoration and Tax Exemption Act”, introduced in February, 2002 by the RI General Assembly:

  • WHEREAS, Industrial mill buildings are an important part of the historic fabric and architectural heritage of our state; and
  • WHEREAS, Rhode Island’s mill buildings employed one hundred and forty thousand people, more than half of the state’s workforce, at their peak in 1920, and were among the largest and most productive factories in the world; and
  • WHEREAS, Many of these buildings today are suited to new residential, commercial, and institutional uses because of their large floor areas, strong masonry construction, high ceilings, large windows, and ability to support heavy floor loads; and
  • WHEREAS, Commercial and fine artists have given new life to old mills by establishing new working and/or living spaces in these buildings; and
  • WHEREAS, Federal, state and municipal restrictions discourage the indiscriminate demolition of many of these mill buildings; and…
  • WHEREAS. Most mill buildings are located in urban neighborhoods that have suffered from lack of new residential, commercial, and industrial investment; and
  • WHEREAS, It is the policy of the state to preserve its industrial heritage, and to promote the adaptive reuse of industrial mill buildings… [and] It is the policy of this state to encourage commercial and fine artists to live and work in Rhode Island and in settings that are suitable to their work.

We believe the state said it best in the introduction of this tax credit bill, and so, ArtInRuins is here to track the happenings of mill buildings and industrial remnants in the state, as well as the plight of artists who inhabit these spaces.

As Providence grows, though, many of these buildings are being razed to make way for chain stores and expensive loft apartments. What happens to the artists? What happens to the city as they are forced to move away? What happens to our connections with history? What do we really lose when we don't preserve the past? These are some of the questions ArtInRuins tries to discuss.

And also, we want to celebrate our state's great history: At the turn of the 20th century, it was claimed that Providence contained the world’s largest tool factory (Brown and Sharpe), file factory (Nicholson File), engine factory (Corliss Steam Engine Company), screw factory (American Screw), and silverware factory (Gorham).  These were proclaimed as Providence’s Five Industrial Wonders of the World. (Conley and Campbell p. 100). 

About the Site

We hope ArtInRuins will be a place people can come together and discuss the issues affecting art, artists, musicians and architecture in Providence. We have eleven different sections in place, and that's a lot of rooms to fill.

We hope to feature discourse in the Stories section: writing from local papers, transcripts of community meetings, examples of what has worked and not worked in other cities, and our own perspective of what is happening in Providence, as well as local rumors and rants. The Interviews section archives interviews with local artists, businesses, and musicians. The Links section will give a web presence to those organizations with no online representation, and feature links to the organizations who already have some sort of info on the web. Finally, the Architecture section will explore the wonderful New England mills, dealing more in-depth with urban decay, the history of local spaces, and art influenced by architecture of the city.

We hope you like what you see, but more importantly, we hope you have ideas on how to make ArtInRuins better. Be sure to contact us with ideas, additions, photos or artwork, and we'll see what we can do to get your voice heard.

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