"For eight months a store sat vacant and a community suffered. Question: How can we reimagine this space in sun a way that people see it's potential. I imagined an art peace created with the help of the community and a transformation so powerfull people would beg to rent the space. And that's exactly what happened." Yvonne Shortt
RPGA Studio worked with a community to take a store that sat empty for eight months and turn it into an art installation. Then, we did the unthinkable and got it rented to a natural drink manufacturer. Now, the community is happy and so is the landlord.
"Art is like a magic wand, when used with good intentions it has the power to transform."
It started when RPGA decided we wanted to create an installation that could be collaborative and could also be used to link art with economic impact. RPGA approached a landlord whose store was empty and asked if we could create an installation with the community. The owner said Yes. For the next couple of months RPGA worked with the community to create an installation.
The installation asked, "What Are You Willing to Do For Love?" The community and kids answered the question online, at meet-ups, and at schools. Next, one of the residency programs
used a dye cut machine to create the letters used for several of the responses. The residency also gave a lesson on color wheels, art, and its linkage to community economic growth. The words were hung on three panels inside the store while a sign with the question “What are You Willing to Do For Love?” was hung outside. RPGA also put the landlords name, number, and rental sign on the banner.
Next, two newspapers decided to run the story. The reactions of the community were interesting; many loved the story but some were angry. They thought the landlord was greedy, pushing up his prices, and forcing tenants out to get more money. RPGA then went about educating the community about what really happened. The old tenant had been there for 15 years and died. Three weeks later the store was rented. And, there stood an empty storefront no more.