“It’s in its infancy, it’s just beginning”… These are just a few wise words from my
interviewee when talking about the changes being made in Atlantic County. I honestly felt like I had the best person to interview and I was so privileged to be able to talk to someone who is so passionate and educated about life in Atlantic County. Throughout this semester we focused mainly on Atlantic City and although my interviewee, Belinda, currently lives in Pleasantville, she goes out of her way to educate herself in the social, economic and political aspects that Atlantic City has to offer. One thing that stuck with me throughout this interview was how Belinda was such an earnest believer in the arts.
The arts is something that we briefly touched base on in class but I think it’s very
important, especially after hearing what Belinda had to say about it. When asked how the city and county develop the community there was no hesitation in her response: “The Atlantic City Arts Commision recognizes art from a social and cultural standpoint.” Belinda believes art is the future of the city and county and has faith in this “regeneration” of artists. I asked myself how arts could make such a big difference in a community then I
remembered an article we read in class, Mapping t he Sexual Terrains of Los Angeles. It mayseem odd to compare the sexual terrains of LA to Atlantic City today but they coincidentally go hand in hand. Art, in a way, cultivates a city or community and this is seen in both the article with LA and with Belinda’s perspective on Atlantic City. The cities that the article mentioned were mainly popular due to their “manicured artistic flare” and that is how the gentrification process gets started. A city that is starting to go under economically and even environmentally are looked at as the reason that gentrification exists (Jackson and Jones 2014).
The first people to respond to this gentrification process are artists because prefer home
affordability over their own safety. They cultivate the city with their own artistic flare that draws the attention of middle- class white families. Those families then move into the city forcing out the artists that once thrived there. Once the middle class has taken over this new artistic city, more expensive businesses begin to open such as coffee shops, museums, fancy restaurants and other places that the low income population simply cannot afford. A city that was once falling apart has now become a city that no longer welcomes people of the low income population. I never thought about arts as having an impact on the success of a city’s future. However, Belinda was so educated about these circumstances that she brought to light a new concept of gentrification that I never considered before. If the arts becomes a more valuable part of Atlantic City’s attempt to a better future then I think we may actually see results. Young, middle-class families are always in search for a new artistic city to live in and if we help Atlantic City and their arts commission then maybe the future of the city will brighten. These kinds of changes cannot happen overnight but over time we may see some drastic changes in the city’s appearances as well as their economy and environment.