Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 10:14:14 CST

Sender: H-Net/H-Urban Seminar on History of Community Organizing &


From: Wendy Plotkin <U13972@UICVM.BITNET>

Subject: PAPER: "How Do the Arts Build Communities?"

Thomas Tresser, former Director of Cultural Development for Peoples Housing in Chicago and a COMM-ORG subscriber, has made available to the seminar the paper "How Do the Arts Build Communities"? In this paper, Tom describes the projects Peoples Housing engaged in, including renovation of an old movie theater, the Howard Theater, and the Tile Project, in which youth from the neighborhood manufactured colorful ceramic tiles under the watchful eye of a ceramist, for use in the Peoples Housing office and also for sale to the public.

In addition, Tresser details other community-based arts projects, including the Mexican-American Fine Arts Museum in Chicago, the Manchester Crafts Guild in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Village of the Arts and Humanities under the supervision of professor Lily Yeh of Philadelphia's University of the Arts, and the San Antonio Guadelupe Cultural Arts Center.

In the paper, Tresser details the human, physical and economic advantages of including an arts component in community development activities. These include offering a productive outlet for restless youth that (according to Tresser) is superior to sports activity in the extent to which it spins off future occupational opportunities and emphasizes creativity and cooperation; adding an aesthetic appeal to projects; and generating neighborhood institutions that are successful income-producing ventures.

One of the attractive features of the WWW version of this paper is its links to a variety of arts-related WWW sites, including the proceedings of an "ARTS21" panel entitled "The Artist as Community Activist" and a substantial set of research papers on the impact of the arts on communities and schools.

To obtain the WWW version, aim your WWW browser at


and select the paper at the very end of the page, "Thomas Tresser, How Do the Arts Build Communities"?

Another feature of the WWW version is the ability to send comments directly to COMM-ORG or to the author from it.

The paper itself is also available at our gopher address -- h-net.msu.edu -- by gophering to that address and selecting

H-Net E-Mail Discussion Groups


H-Urban Seminar on the History of Community....

Additional Discussions....

Community-Based Arts

Finally, you may send e-mail to listserv@uicvm.uic.edu with the message:


Time permitting, I may attempt to put some of the auxiliary material from the WWW version on-line in the future.

I look forward to receiving comments on the paper and/or information on other community-based arts projects, papers and Internet sites (and would remind all that later in the seminar there will be a paper on community-based design).

Wendy Plotkin