College Times

RoRo Receives $150K ArtPlace Grant

By Pat Marrujo • College Times

Published: Monday, July 9, 2012

Updated: Friday, July 20, 2012


Adrian Lesoing

The Roosevelt Row Art District, a cultural hotspot in downtown Phoenix best known for its First Friday events, is one of 47 locales nationwide to benefit from a $150,000 ArtPlace grant awarded to the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation.

ArtPlace, a national collaboration of 11 major foundations, six large banks and eight federal agencies, received nearly 2,200 letters of inquiry about receiving a portion of the organization’s $15.4 million in grant funds.

Roosevelt Row, also known as RoRo, was recognized as “using art to accelerate transit-oriented development,” according to the ArtPlace website.

ArtPlace Director of Communications Tim Halbur said ArtPlace chose to fund Roosevelt Row’s projects because of its potential to drive vibrancy in the community.

“The Roosevelt Row CDC has already made great strides in making the arts district a vibrant community, and have demonstrated their ability to bring business and arts groups together,” Halbur said. “This new ArtPlace grant will allow them to build on the momentum they've already created.”

Cindy Dach, the interim director of Roosevelt Row, said RoRo fits the mission of ArtPlace.

“We are an organization that gets many small things done that sometimes have a big impact,” she said.

The grant money is intended to assist funding in three projects: a “feast on the street” culinary arts event, streetscape plans and the development of an Adaptive Reuse of Temporary Space (A.R.T.S.) Village – a collection of recycled shipping containers used for retail, artists studios and live work space.

Greg Esser, Roosevelt Row board member and one of the co-authors of the grant request, said the streetscape plans have been discussed at two public meetings held in April and will be developed further at upcoming, currently unscheduled public meetings.

“The main reason for the meeting is to develop a consensus for the priorities of the area,” Esser said. “We don’t want the [money for the arts] to be displaced.”

Although the grant money for Roosevelt Row is intended for the development of the three projects, Dach feels all the events in the area can benefit from the ArtPlace grant money.

“First Fridays and many of the Food Truck Fridays occur in this district, so there is an indirect benefit that becomes a direct benefit” Dach said. “When an area is improved, the experience improves for all events associated with that area.”

However, Esser hopes the grant money will help Roosevelt Row be known for more than just events like First Fridays and Food Truck Fridays.

“Our new slogan for this year is ‘more than just a one night stand,’ in other words, we want people to know that there is something happening here every day,” Esser said.

RoRo has played a major role in the revitalization of the downtown Phoenix area in recent years. However, Esser said it was playing just as major of a role prior to big downtown projects like the light rail, the ASU campus and CityScape.

“It is made of a community that not only care about having a sustainable and vibrant downtown, but it is made of a community that wants to be part of the process that makes it so,” Dach said.

The very dense and diverse community at RoRo is always growing and Esser feels that it is the people in the community who make the area special.

“We don’t believe in buildings to make this community great,” Esser said. “We believe in people to make this community great.”


For information about First Fridays, Food Truck Fridays and other events at Roosevelt Row, visit or call 602.772.0083


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