Is This A Zero Sum Game?

Pawtucket ArmoryBecause if Pawtucket is rising, then I can’t help but think that Providence is sinking. How many artists and musicians are there to go around? Who will wait on our tables? Will Providence be left with all the personal injury lawyers and politicians?  At any rate, tonight at 7pm WSBE Channel 36 will be airing the documentary Pawtucket Rising about a city that found a way to re-purpose old buildings and create a new vision of itself.

When artists could no longer afford the skyrocketing real estate in nearby Providence they were forced to take their business elsewhere. Mayor James E. Doyle recognized that The Arts could be an important catalyst in his city’s revitalization. The city seized the opportunity to invite these small businesses to relocate to Pawtucket. As a result, Pawtucket is now restoring and renovating mill and industrial space that had once sat vacant and decaying.

A warning to Mayor Doyle.  Pretty soon this will result in increased real estate values which will price your precious little artists right out of the market, and they will be forced to move up to Woonsocket until the same thing happens there, and then they will all move to Attleboro where they will bump into all the artists moving south out of Boston. At which point the funky grooviness will reach critical mass and erupt in a violent explosion of nose rings, napsacks, bicycle chains and old vinyl — which Attleboro will then declare an art installation. And the whole thing will start all over with all the artists finally moving back down to Providence where the real estate market, having totally tanked, is now quite affordable.

8 thoughts on “Is This A Zero Sum Game?”

  1. Well, realistically, Pawtucket is practically Providence. Artists who move to pawtucket are still going to be waiting on your providence tables. shows that are happening in pawtucket are still going to be attended by those who live here. i think the whole sentiment of ‘providence is sinking’ is kind of naive and dramatic. we live in a 43×45 mile state, i mean, nothing is ever going to be too far.

  2. Beth: Hope you will come out of your orbit and travel 10 minutes down Interstate 95 into “God’s Country” Pawtucket. Check out our artist community and expand your network.

  3. Oh no no . . . you misunderstand. I love artists and musicians. I was bemoaning this endless revitalization conveyor belt that threatens to take them further and further out of my orbit. Where will it all end? (Artists who moved to Brooklyn after being priced out of the lower East Side, are now moving to Philadelphia — no joke) And my ‘waitress’ comment was me being flip — I am in the service sector myself. BTW, did I say I was shakin’ something?

  4. Who will wait on our tables? who do you think you are? on what plane of reality do you claim to live on? artists tend to live where it’s cheap, on account of the fact that we wait on personal injury lawyers and serve architects burnt cappuccinos. Olneyville costs essentially nothing, we move there. Price gets jacked up because Wheeler kids are swindling their parents into paying for their warehouse spaces, and yeah, we move to Pawtucket.

    get real, man. you ain’t movin’ or shakin’ nothin’.

  5. I think there are enough artists to go around, in one respect. Artists want to be where arts is happening, and where other artists are. I think now what might be happening is the strata of artists is expanding in the area. Successful ones move into nicer lofts in downtown Providence, or they buy their own building in Pawtucket. Artists just starting out probably live on the West Side of Prov, where arts and performance is happening, but maybe have a studio in Pawtucket or Olneyville. Eventually, maybe they move into a mill space to have a live work. And people still are getting priced out of NYC or Boston and coming here because they have more options… to live high end, or lower end. To eat out and see great music in any local venue, Pawtucket or Providence. I think they need eachother, and neither has to really lose… the population might just ebb and flow as artists move through their career trajectories.

  6. I also enjoyed Pawtucket Rising, which provides a thorough and fair account of the Bucket’s quest to rehab its mills and rebuild its economy around the arts. Mayor Doyle, Herb Weiss and co. have had vision, worked long and hard, and are seeing results. Congratulations and thank you!

    Beth I gotta say you are absolutely mistaken that this is a zero sum game. Pawtucket is 10 minutes from downtown Providence. Their successes reinforce ours, in the same way that Pawtucket would never have been able to start down this road if it weren’t for the early success Providence had rehabbing old buildings and creating new space and resources for artists, hackers, designers and other creative entrepreneurs.

    The more success Prov and Pawtucket have in these efforts, the better both cities will do at holding on to grads from RISD, Brown, URI, JWU etc, attracting artists from Boston, NYC and Phili, becoming home to creative startups and generally becoming a national hub of the nation’s 21st Century Economy.

    Tooting AS220’s horn for just a sec: when our newly acquired Mercantile Block building comes online in a couple of years it will provide 25 new, affordable live and work studios for artists, and house a communal graphic design studio, an enlarged community print shop that is gaining a national reputation and an expanded public folk technology lab created in partnership with MIT.

    Those efforts don’t hurt Pawtucket. We’re all winning.

  7. i saw this documentary and enjoyed it. i just hope that the city of pawtucket will continue to keep the arts and artists in mind when (if) the city becomes gentrified. it really does need more restaurants downtown, though – what ever happened to that crazy burger place in the old apex? i thought it was great, but it is now shuttered . . .

  8. The “Pawtucket Rising” documentary is pretty accurate in reflecting our 10 years of cultivating the arts in our City. We’re not there yet and we have more work to do… City officials do not want to see Pawtucket to become a Soho and are working hard to integrate artists into our community fabric. Our prices are affordable and many of the property owners see the value of fair rents as a way to keep their buildings filled without continual turnover of tenants.

    A community can not rest on its laurals or past deeds in attracting artists and businesses…Every day is a new day where the red carpet is rolled out…with this philosophy, both artists and businesses will always benefit from these actions where ever they end up. Herb Weiss, Economic and Cultural Affairs Officer, City of Pawtucket.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Providence Daily Dose