Friday, January 13, 2012

Imagining Community Downtown

If you're looking for something to do next Saturday night, I have a suggestion: begin the evening at the McDonough Museum of Art on the YSU campus and help preserve, and maybe even help make, some Youngstown history.  On January 21, from 6-8 pm, the McDonough will host a public reception for the Paramount Project.  Anita Lin explains the project in this week's Lincoln Avenue, including the development of the exhibit that opened this week at the museum, featuring photos, artifacts, and interviews reflecting the history of the Paramount theater and ideas about how the renovated facade and open air multi-use space behind it that Lin and her colleagues are imagining will change downtown.

Much of that is about community.  Over the past five years, downtown Youngstown has attracted a number of large festivals and smaller-scale public programs, like the farmer's market and Friday concerts.  Restaurants and bars have become meeting places, too.  Lin argues that a covered open-air, non-commercial space could serve many functions, most importantly expanding the opportunities for people to gather downtown.  It's an intriguing model for how to preserve and repurpose a significant structure, but turning that imagined community space into reality will take time and money.  If you're interested in helping make that happen, next Saturday's reception is a good place to begin.

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