Keying In: Getting Close to 186 Carpenter, Creative Placemaking, and the Artist Entrepreneur

  • Tyler French Brown University


This article describes 186 Carpenter, a co-work and gallery space in Providence, RI, and considers its praxis of nonparticipation in Creative Placemaking efforts and artist entrepreneurship models. I develop the category of the “not-not-for-profit” organization as a mode of organizing, which intentionally resists the legibility afforded by these discourses. By outlining the cultural circumstances that inform why some arts organizers chose to not participate in Creative Placemaking and artist entrepreneurship schemes, this ethnographically informed analysis can nuance their critiques and affirmations. My central question is: why are artists opting out of the resources Creative Placemaking provides, particularly in a city such as Providence RI that has been a prime example of successful Creative Placemaking efforts? Entering these discourses from the humanities and utilizing ethnographic gestures may present an alternative methodology for understanding how artists may still be mobilizing to make places, while also failing to reproduce funder-determined models of support found in the Creative Placemaking enterprise and artist entrepreneurship discourses.

Author Biography

Tyler French, Brown University

I am a multidisciplinary artist and organizer with a commitment to integrating arts and cultural activities into all aspects of our lives.

My work is attentive to, held accountable by, and enmeshed in the lives of the community members I live and work beside, and serve. I believe the arts are a vehicle through which we can learn about ourselves, each other, and our relation with each scale of community in which we participate. Through this work, we can imagine new communities and connections, foster existing and create new resources that allow every person the privilege of access to the arts – of spaces for sharing our commonalities without diminishing our differences.

I contribute to this work with strong presentation, facilitation, and listening skills. All of my professional experience, research, and community involvement has required bringing into conversation sets of people and organizations not usually in contact. I feel comfortable moving among and between different communities and specialists and believe this is vital to crafting together a more just and equitable world through arts and cultural engagements.

Providence, RI. Attribution: <p style="font-size: 0.9rem;font-style: italic;"><a href="">"Providence Autumn"</a><span>by <a href="">Mr. Ducke</a></span> is licensed under <a href="" style="margin-right: 5px;">CC BY-NC 2.0</a><a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="display: inline-block;white-space: none;opacity: .7;margin-top: 2px;margin-left: 3px;height: 22px !important;"><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="" /><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="" /><img style="height: inherit;margin-right: 3px;display: inline-block;" src="" /></a></p>