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Social-Practice Residencies :: Grand Central Art Center + Community Engagement


Grand Central Art Center + Community Engagement | Santa Ana, California

The Organizations

Grand Central Art Center is a program of California State University at Fullerton, in collaboration with the city of Santa Ana. GCAC is dedicated to the investigation and promotion of contemporary art and visual culture regionally, nationally, and internationally through unique collaborations among artists, students, and the community. The facility offers apartments and studio spaces for college of the arts graduate students; a galleries, studio spaces, classrooms, and a theater; a café and cooking classrooms; a flamenco institute and an architectural studio, as well as living and working spaces for artists-in-residence.

Community Engagement is a newly incorporated nonprofit that utilizes Creatives-in-Residence to serve as catalysts in bringing about positive change in low-income communities in collaboration with the individuals, families and seniors who live there.

The Community

The residency program engages four low-income housing communities:

1) Heninger Village is a 58-unit gated senior community walking distance from the downtown Santa Ana, California, arts district. The vast majority of the residents at Heninger Village live alone and do not work. The community is diverse with many residents speaking English as a second language.

2) Sullivan Manor Apartments is a 54-unit multi-family gated apartment community in Santa Ana, California, with 162 residents. The residents are English and Spanish speaking, and represent backgrounds including Pakistani, Afghan, Hispanic and Asian. Priority will be given to proposals that address health and wellness.

3) Triada Village and Triada Court is a majority Hispanic family community in Santa Ana, California. The community consists of a 74-unit complex with an additional 40 units scattered throughout a three-block radius. Most of Triada’s residents are two-parent households, working in the service industry with one parent staying home to look after small children.  The community has a Project Access Resource Center, on-site day care facilities and Garfield Elementary School is just across 6th Street from Triada. The community is a transit-oriented property being just three blocks from the rail and bus stations. Triada is in need of a social practice initiative that will help bring together the apartment complex’s residents and adjacent community members.

4) Whispering Pines is a large apartment community situated about fifteen minutes from downtown Phoenix.  The community consists of over 20 two-story apartment buildings. Many of the residents have families with children and about a quarter of the units are occupied by senior residents. 

The Residency Program

GCAC offers multiple residency programs. Its primary program is an invitation-only residency for social-practice artists, with residencies lasting from several months to several years, depending on the projects. For this case study, we are focusing on GCAC’s collaborative residency with the organization Community Engagement. 

Creatives selected for the Community Engagement / GCAC program are awarded a one- or two-year residency to engage the residents of one of four low-income housing communities in Santa Ana, California, and Phoenix, Arizona, to ignite social change through sustainable practices and programs.

The Community Engagement / GCAC residency program aims to develop sustainable social practice initiatives within low-income communities, that leave the community a better place to live, with the community active in assuring the continuation of this positive change. 

Themes, Issues and Disciplines
“Creatives” can be defined as community engagement leaders, artists, architects, urban community planners, etc., whose interests are in creating collaborative efforts promoting positive individual and community change. Residents are asked to develop projects specific to one of the low-income communities in which they will work. Projects to-date have included development of community gardens, afterschool tutoring and enrichment for school-age children, and development of community driven art projects. 

Project Planning
Working within one of four low-income housing communities, the Creatives-in-Residence initiate projects where the community at large is a part of its adoption and success. GCAC and Community Engagement work with the Creatives on project plans. Community Engagement also provides a training platform and peer-mentoring forum for the Creatives-in-Residence, furthering the development of their skillsets in bringing people together, building community leadership, and developing sustainable projects. 

Support Provided
The selected individuals and/or collective groups are provided with housing (or a housing stipend), a working stipend, and a budget to execute their projects.

Selection Process & Criteria
Community-driven Creatives are selected through an open call for proposals to the Community Engagement / GCAC residency program.

In the selection process, Community Engagement and GCAC are looking for Creatives who desire to bring low-income people together to share ideas and experiences, and stimulate social change within their communities. The Creative’s role is to live and/or spend significant amounts of time among the community members, get to know them, listen and lead the effort to stimulate change using his/her specific skillset and social practice approaches. The Creative should also consider the sustainability of their work by creating leadership in the community to continue when the Creative is not present. 

More information:

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