What to do with abandoned factories? Bring in the artists!

Posted by LDonia on 12/03/2013

What to do with all that decaying infrastructure? Sometimes a former factory town has to get creative. And one community in Rhode Island seems to have found a good solution: Fill old factories with makers of another kind.

Pawtucket, Rhode Island has been taking steps, for nearly a decade, to attract artists to the area. Its efforts have been largely successful, and this past weekend the state of Rhode Island expanded a tax emption for artists to cover the whole state in the hopes of replicating Pawtucket's success across its entire 1,212 square miles.

According to William Harless at the Wall Street Journal:

Many of Pawtucket's 19th- and 20th-century mills, which were almost empty by the 1990s, are now filled with artists, recruited with the lure of low rents and the tax break.

It may seem odd for us to be discussing this here. After all, we’re the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), not the Alliance for American Artists, but lets not forget that arts and innovation go hand in hand. And building a solid manufacturing sector requires a solid culture of innovation.

So much is this true, that many organizations and scholars are advocating the change from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).

While a factory and an art studio may be aesthetically quite different, the work going on within pairs beautifully.

Image of Pawtucket, Rhode Island by Flickr User dadofliz. Used following Creative Commons guidelines.

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