August 19, 2019

Art as strategy: Why public art is a smart business decision

Part of what makes M2G unique is that we truly care about the art we bring into a space.  Our mission, to inspire evolution through impact and innovation, we truly take to heart and head.  We believe art creates the soul of the place, far before a body steps through the doors or a lease is ever contemplated.  It creates the vibe people want to be around, the vibe people want to be a part of.  It gives them the reason to have an emotional attachment to an otherwise commercial place.  It creates a reason to keep making memories there.  We believe that art should be approachable to the everyman; it should not solely be reserved for the museum patron or the collector. Art tells a powerful story, and it should be presented to the public—especially within the urban core—as a way to connect, engage, and inspire. 

Storytelling is at the heart of everything we do. We see our properties as a canvas and use a placemaking mindset to constantly inject innovation where others see obsolescence. 

Beyond our philosophy around public art is what we see as a smart business decision. Where our peers might see art as an afterthought or “nice to have,” we see it as critical to the way we position our properties. And, more than any trendy architectural element or other attention-grabbing device, art tells a story and connects with people at the soul level. It is a key differentiator in almost all of our projects to date. And it started with a bang.

Leading with a strong statement

When we sought to change the way Fort Worthians described our first major acquisition, a strip center on Camp Bowie Blvd. known as “Locke Block,” we partnered with M2G’s Chief Creative Officer, Katie Murray, to create a thought-provoking mural that would help us quickly rebrand the center to The Crossing at Camp Bowie. We knew it was a major undertaking—to challenge people to see a well-known area of town and center with new eyes—so we thought we would offer a friendly challenge to passersby: to keep on dreaming. The center had been known previously for its non-descript façade and sea of beige-ness.

Fort Worth took notice. It positioned M2G as innovators, and a team not afraid of a challenge.  The press rolled in and so did the leases.  It was the first of three in a series, starting us on a path of urban acquisitions, the first on Camp Bowie, the second, the start of the Foundry District, and the last was on Magnolia Avenue, which we have since redeveloped, leased and sold.  

Placemaking with a purpose

Located in the Cultural District of Fort Worth, walkable to the city’s world-class museums, The Foundry District is home to the largest outdoor art gallery in Texas. Inspiration Alley could have been just another alley, a forgotten in-between place where dumpsters line up outside the back doors of businesses, but where others would have seen a place to discard trash, we saw an opportunity to do something really interesting, impactful and for the community we were trying to create. 

Since we created, ”Don’t Quit Your Daydream,” our first mural there in late 2016 before a hammer was ever swung, The Foundry has grown to housing over 50 pieces of art throughout the district, inviting patrons to go on a treasure hunt to locate our #28mantras or see many of North Texas’ best artists and collaborations. The art serves as more than a beautiful backdrop for our creative office tenants, or for patrons capturing special moments (even though we love this aspect). Collectively, it offers a point of view that celebrates artistry, inclusion, diversity of thought, and pure joy. And, by the way, art put The Foundry on the map as part of USA Today’s “10 reasons why Fort Worth is visit-worthy” list.  Talk about art as smart business.  The Foundry District is now home to over 30 new businesses, all of whom embraced the innovative approach to real estate development and found their home amongst the arts.

Looking East 

Our next big project is in Dallas, our first foray outside the Fort Worth market, Bogart will bring new drama to Old East Dallas. With a bold, complete refresh of a former YWCA-turned-CAN Academy, Bogart will become a mixed-use office project with over 50,000 square feet of creative office and a ground floor coffee shop overlooking Ross Avenue. Museum quality art throughout with a sculpture garden in front along with digital graffiti will bring fascinating and visually engaging spaces for tenants looking to be inspired.  We wanted this project to be really special; it needs to be more thought provoking, inspiring, and curated than any other – and we intend to deliver.

We have been working closely with our architects to ensure that the art is front-and-center on this project, just as it has been from day one at M2G. We care about the way people interact with a space, and we have just begun to scratch the surface of what is possible in terms of showcasing art in interesting and thought-provoking ways. Stay with us as we continue to turn one building after the other into canvases one at a time.