Art and its presence

Undercurrent of culture

Last night I attended a fantastic production of “Art”, the play by Yasmina Reza, at the Phoenix Building downtown. Produced by A Bryan Photo in their studio loft space (above), the show features 3 fine actors from Los Angeles (tickets may still be available for tonight and Saturday here).

This sort of “underground” art helps make downtowns vibrant and exciting, and is just the sort of artistic energy we hoped would emerge when we developed the Phoenix 7 years ago, with 74 mixed-income units catering heavily to artists. Convinced that this type of loft development could succeed in Birmingham, we’ve seen a truly unique vibe evolve here. We’d love to see more.

Who says a fire stair can't be fun

Above is another example of the artsy vibe at the Phoenix–this is one of the fire stairs which is currently a “work in progress”, with various artists from around the building able to add their impromptu expressions to the otherwise utilitarian space. This building project–and the unique energy it’s given to downtown–could not have happened without many financing components, including Federal Historic Tax Credits. Currently, Operation New Birmingham is hoping that the Alabama Legislature will pass a law creating State Historic Tax Credits, a complementary tool that many states already use to help get historic buildings (and their higher costs) renovated. Alabama’s major cities need this law to pass: it will help us all put together more projects, like the Phoenix, that turn vacant historic buildings into revenue producing, tax-paying, vibrancy-building partners in revitalization of downtowns and surrounding historic neighborhoods.

Yes it is--and art expresses the feeling

Let’s get that law passed. And let’s continue to find ways to promote art, and artists, as key elements of improving our urban neighborhoods.


10 responses to “Art and its presence

  1. Nice to learn The Phoenix has evolved its own arts life.

  2. Thanks, Jeremy!
    So great having you here last night. Thanks for paving the way for BHM and making events like this possible.

  3. Jane Timberlake Cooper

    It is really exciting to see what is taking place in the Phoenix building. It is rare to have a space where artists can live and create their work. Thank you for your vision and for adding this type of living space to the city.

  4. The bill to OK State Historic Tax Credits would be a big help in attracting private investment in renovation of Pizitz, the Cabana, the Brown-Marx and other downtown buildings. The bill will be considered on Wednesday at Representative Jay Love’s committee. To support this important, legislation email him at

  5. Great post. Often, art is overlooked as a method to encourage downtown/urban redevelopment. Not only does it act as a catalyst, but it also adds to culture and the amount of enjoyment that people have once redevelopment has taken place.

    I really hope that the new tax credits can help complete the redevelopment of the Heaviest Corner. My hopes for the next couple of years is that both Brown Marx and Cabana have SOMETHING announced.

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