Joshua Heim calls for rethinking the suburbs as a site for the arts


Joshua Heim ('10, Cultural Studies) has recently published a call to rethink the suburbs as a space for arts engagement and development. The article, posted on the Americans for the Arts Artsblog, poses a challenge in its very title: “Over 50 percent of American live and work in suburbs.  Are 50% of them arts leaders?

Since graduating from the MA in Cultural Studies, Heim has worked as the Arts Program Manager for first, the City of Redmond and currently, the City of Bellevue—two large suburban districts in the Puget Sound area. The problem, he underscores, is not the absence of suburban arts leaders, but “a set of assumptions that occlude the arts and arts leaders” more generally, as well as  specific “cultural policies [that] cut off suburban communities from widespread arts participation.”

Heim poses specific questions, designed to provoke new thinking a new strategies, including:

  • How do we bring art to people rather than bringing people to art?
  • How do we distribute creative opportunities instead of consolidating them?
  • How do we create public cultural spaces, on par with the nation’s community library system?

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