7% drop in population over the last decade), have even deeper problems on a city-wide or neighborhood-wide basis.
I was on an architectural boat tour on the Chicago River when my mom and aunt were in town (which while I was at first reluctant to go on, was one of the most intriguing treasure troves of information on my own city I've found so far - highly recommended) when I first learned that River North, that burgeoning neighborhood just north of the Loop full of restaurants and clubs and businesses of all shapes and sizes, truly got its modern day start as an artist collective. Naturally, these days most of the artists have been priced out of that trendy neighborhood, a problem all of its own, but it speaks to the power of the arts to revitalize a city, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, by bringing creativity, beauty, constructive outlets for passion, and the inevitable nightlife that comes with artists to an area.
This concept needs greater attention. Arts companies and service organizations need to start talking more with architects and development (in the building buildings sense) types to see where there might be mutually beneficial projects that could seed neighborhoods with relevant arts communities that will help the neighborhood grow.
As it is, there are some projects in Chicago, like the Cermak Creative District and the Bronzeville Urban Development that could use artists' input and collaboration. These projects might even find funding to help create art incubators and artist collectives and rehearsal spaces and performance spaces. Just so long as we make sure we're becoming a part of these discussions as a community and that the art that is being injected is organic to the neighborhood so that it can grow with the community.
[image credit: http://www.bronzevillebud.org]