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Art, theatre, culture revitalizes and rebuilds desolate beaten-down urban areas throughout the country

Do you have section of a city that has seen better days? Does it have old buildings that could be beautiful again? Is it empty, crime-ridden, seedy or scary? You might want to ask your local artisits to move in.

You wouldn’t think that the most cash strapped, under supported industry would be the one thing that can bring life back to the most forgotten part of a town but all across the country and the world, smart cities are asking artists to blaze a trail into derelict urban environments.

Media’s Arts Council, a member of Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, is the force bringing art, dance, music, and theater to Media Pennsylvania. Media’s 2nd Saturdays is a monthly event that offers free performances of music, theatre and arts presentations to the community.

I took a peek at Media’s crime stats and note that since 2002, property crime has dropped more than 300% in Media, while violent crime and aggravated assaults have dropped in half.

In England, where business are suffering as much from the hard economic times as here in the U.S and clsong their doors, government advisors are urging the British politicians to endorse conversion of empty commercial spaces into places where farmers, local tradesman and artists can ply their wears In an abandoned Woolworth’s in Stroud, Gloucestershire is about to be turned over to the artisits.

In London, the theatre company “Write by Numbers” has taken over a shop whose former tenants whose business, like so many others, have fallen victim to this recession. The company offers plays and a cup of tea for free of a small donation. And other arts projects, meant to breath life into semi-abadoned urban areas are happening thoughout England. In Dursely, artisits have taken over a line of empty shops to sell their crafts. There’s also the Brixton Project which features numerous adaptations of Ovid’s Metamorphose, an exhibition space in Hastings, the Noise Lab in Manchester, and a contemporary art gallery in a former Marks & Spencer retail store.

Many cities have learned that where artisits go, money follows. The Foundry made an area in East London so cool that the artisits who began it have found themselves evicted in order to build a big hotel. This happened in Toronto’s Queen Street area and likewise to the Berlin artisits who created such an edgy cool spot in the low rent struggling area of their city that the wealthier soon moved in and edged them to other areas.

I am seeking other stories where art and theatre brought life to abandoned areas. So please contribute to the discussion. Meanwhile, maybe someone can explain why The St. Francis Theatre – a neo-classical building that was a movie theater for approximately 90 years (1911-2001) in San Francisco remains vacant, closed, and boarded up?

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