Tuesday, 20 March 2012 11:42

Q&A with Jenn Schaub

Written by  Lindsay Patton Carson
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Questions for Jenn Schaub, Neighborhood Revitalization Specialist at Dwelling Place

You're the Neighborhood Revitalization Specialist at Dwelling Place. What are some of your job requirements?

My job there is essentially community organizing. I work with the South Division Business Corridor and we do a variety of activities on South Division to help support the economic development.

There's Dwelling Place and there's Avenue for the Arts. Are they separate? Is one part of the other? Explain how that works.

When we refer to the Avenue for the Arts, it is a geographic location. It is the area between South Division and Fulton, along the South Division corridor and it includes the residents, businesses and non-profit organizations that are coming together to better the community. The Dwelling Place does affordable housing, with the majority of the housing being in downtown Grand Rapids.

So by naming the location ‘Avenue for the Arts,' you want to encourage the focus on the artist community, correct?

When you say ‘South Division,' there's a certain segment of the population that has very directed ideas about what that area is like. So we wanted to emphasize the positive things that are happening in that community that people weren't aware of.

Avenue of the Arts is also a part of the annual Art.Downtown. event, which is coming up this month. 

It reflects some of the qualities of the downtown ‘Let's Go Out' campaign. We really want people to realize that the core of downtown Grand Rapids has an art community that exists 365 days a year.

What's different or new for Art.Downtown. this year?

Since it's your Cheap Issue, I want to point out that some of the venues will have food that's free. A great place to start is the Kendall studio spaces. San Chez is graciously providing some catered food for that event to help support Kendall College. They are located on Grandville and Wealthy and it's a great place to park and catch a trolley.

Everything about this event seems so accessible. In addition to the event being free, there's free food and trolleys, plus art and ample parking.

And the other thing is that the UICA will be free that evening and the GRAM is doing dollar admission with the map.

You have an arts background, correct?

Yes, my undergraduate is in fine arts from Grand Valley. I have a printmaking degree and I still make prints; slowly, but surely. And then I have a master's in nonprofit administration from Grand Valley as well.

You recently launched H.A.C.K., a website started by you, Emma Higgins, Tori Pelz and Miriam Slager. Could you give a summary about what it is and how you want it to affect the arts community?

Over the course of the last several years
but specifically the last year there's been a lot of intense conversations about how Grand Rapids is lacking in a critical dialogue about the arts events that are happening in the city.

That's true. Since ArtPrize began, it's been very difficult to focus the commentary and criticism. What I know about H.A.C.K is that it's a great opportunity to channel the discussion.

I'm hoping it develops the conversation in a more robust fashion, where people can actually create articles and feedback that they spend more than two angry minutes writing. Somebody said, ‘How are you going to keep it from being a bitch fest?' It's constructive criticism. I want to look at shows that are successful. I want to focus on that just as much as the things that aren't working as well as they should be. Because nobody wants to read something that just bitches.

How is content released?

We'll be putting out new content weekly — most of the time on Tuesdays.

Art.Downtown. is a free event on April 13 in downtown Grand Rapids. For more info, see our Cheap Issue, or visit artdowntowngr.com.

Photos: Ryan Pavlovich

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