Over the past several years, EbM has spent a lot of time discussing this issue, how our project could be be harmful to the sites' communities. We hope this is never the case, but every install carries the risk of gentrification in it.
We have looked at Detroit properties since the start of EbM.
We have opted against purchasing a property in Detroit in large part because we are not a mature enough organization to address the complex issues and responsibilities of building there. It is a site where, I suspect, we would need to live, to engage day to day, in order to feel certain that our installation wasn't more harmful than beneficial to the community.
Speaking of which, last week we were offered three properties in Chicago. The properties consist of six city lots total. They are not fully contiguous. I am going down to look at them this coming weekend. I will post photos here for everybody.
The issue these lots raise is similar to the issue lots in Detroit would raise, they are in community where a sited artwork will need far more support and engagement than any previous installations. For any project by EbM to succeed on these lots, we will have to change as an organization.
I think this is probably not a bad thing. We have talked a lot over the years about incorporating and trying to become a more traditional arts/culture business. We have not done so, I think, because our simple, amateurish approach is fairly fulfilling while remaining free of too many obligations and responsibilities. It has been fairly risk-free. If we move forward with these properties, that will have to change completely.
RIME is already pushing us in the direction of this change. If we accept these Chicago properties, we will experience a much greater, much higher pressure change.
We are truly blessed to have such difficult choices to make! :-)