Kaniqua Welch Share Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email As part of the Building and Supporting Equitable Development (BASED) initiative, Kresge’s Arts & Culture Program hosted grantees and community partners from across the country for the “BASED Virtual Convening: Arts, Culture and Affordable Housing” on September 14. Attendees engaged in an interactive discussion about affordable housing, which has surfaced as a learning priority for BASED grantees. Recent survey results from the cohort revealed work at the intersection of arts, culture and affordable housing has taken precedence as providers face new challenges in ensuring the health and wellbeing of residents. According to a recent Brookings Report, “Strategies for increasing affordable housing amid the COVID-19 economic crisis,” millions of Americans lacked stable, affordable housing even before the pandemic. The crisis has now highlighted the social and economic costs of this crucial gap in the safety net. People living in poor-quality, overcrowded, or unstable housing – or without any home at all – cannot follow public health directives to safely “shelter in place.” As a result, they are at far greater risk of contracting the virus, along with other chronic illnesses. Representatives from BASED grantees Broadway Housing Communities, Chinatown Community Development Center and Project Row Houses each presented on their own arts and housing practices. They were joined by other convening speakers, including Carl Hancock Rux (Poet, Playwright, Novelist, Essayist, and Recording Artist); Alecia Leonard, Regional Vice President, Urban Strategies; and Jennifer Song (Manager, Yesler Terrace Arts Initiative, Seattle Housing Authority). “At the Seattle Housing Authority, arts and culture programs have proven to be critical drivers toward a more holistic, resident-centered approach to housing redevelopment,” Song said. “Now more than ever, our residents are experiencing unprecedented challenges in all facets of life due to COVID-19. Using creative strategies has allowed us to respond with high levels of service that are culturally-specific and attuned to the real lives and experiences of our communities.” In reflecting on the BASED Convening, Song shared it was an opportunity to recharge and learn from a diverse cohort of colleagues, all of whom approach the intersection of arts, culture, and housing in distinct ways. “Carving out time for reflective practice and collegial exchange is invaluable, especially in today’s world,” she said. “I was humbled and amazed by the work that’s happening in the field, and grateful for the lessons shared during this program. The conversations felt rooted in present day concerns around equity and justice, and I appreciated the honesty with which people approached their work and the conversation.” BASED was launched in 2019 as part of an ongoing effort to position culture and creativity as drivers of more just communities. The primary goal of BASED is to develop a platform for continued learning of both leading practitioners and Kresge staff around emerging field priorities, such as strengthening racial equity and inclusion best practices within the community development sector. In July 2020, Kresge announced six new organizations were joining BASED, bringing the cohort to 17 partners total. “BASED partners are national leaders in thinking about truly equitable approaches to housing – and how arts and culture can play a key role in that work,” said Seth D. Beattie, senior program officer with the Arts & Culture Program who oversees the BASED initiative. “With this conversation, grantees were able to deepen shared knowledge around this approach by sharing their own expertise with the full group.” Learn more about the BASED initiative and view the full list of grantee partners.