Charlottesville, VA –  “How would you improve your neighborhood?” Using this question as a starting point, BeCville is an innovative new program that works with local residents to use art and creativity as a way to support local neighborhoods and address community needs. Throughout October and November, BeCville is asking residents throughout the city how they would improve their neighborhood in order to listen to their ideas and then support making them a reality in the summer of 2017. Residents are invited to go to to submit their ideas.

Over the next year, BeCville is working with residents living in the Ridge Street and Belmont neighborhoods to develop a series of public art projects that directly address their needs.  This will begin by gather resident ideas, then inviting artists to develop projects proposal, and finally, letting residents vote on the projects they want to see happen in the summer of 2017. Whether a beautifully designed crosswalk, a collaborative mural that shows community values, a mix tape of neighborhood music, a neighborhood celebration, or an urban garden that results in a neighborhood recipe book, BeCville puts residents at the core of making these decisions and learning how to make them a reality.

“When most people think about art, they see a painting on a wall or a sculpture on a pedestal,” say BeCville organizer Matthew Slaats. “But, art can be so much more. It can bring people together, be a way of creating community identity, slow down traffic, or even improve the health of our neighborhoods.  When communities are creative together there are immense opportunities for sharing experiences, understanding different perspectives, and building capacity to envision the future.”

BeCville is inspired by the international participatory budgeting process.  Having started 30 years ago in Brazil, this process puts the power of making neighborhood investments in the hands of local residents.  At present residents in New York City are deciding how to spend over $23 million dollars, youth in Boston are making decision about $1 million dollars, and the residents in Greensboro, NC are deciding how $500,000 is being spent in their neighborhoods.

The ultimate goals of BeCville is to show how the arts can positively impact local communities, and build community capacity to play a direct role in driving the vision of their cities. At the core of the project is a belief that residents hold the knowledge for how to make their neighborhoods better.  

About BeCville –  BeCville is a project of PauseLab with a mission of empowering communities to create vibrant, livable cities through civic engagement, placemaking, and design thinking.  We do this by collaborating with residents to understand their needs and then working together to create projects the enliven neighborhoods. Pauselab is supported through a collaboration with the TJPDC Corporation with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the City of Charlottesville.