Roosevelt Row Arts District lands on top 10 list

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Some high praise for the Roosevelt Row Arts District, known to some as RoRo. USA Today just named it one of the 10 best city art districts in the country.

"You can eat, you can drink, you can observe, you can participate, you can relax, you can party, you can be expressive. There are a lot of open mics.It's just so much activity for everybody,  you can dance," said Angelina Ramirez

All of that and then some can be found in the same place, Roosevelt Row in Downtown Phoenix.

The district, which features murals and much more, runs between 16th Street and 7th Avenue along Roosevelt. And it has come a long way in the last 20 years.

"Used to have houses that people would not want to be around and now it's home to local businesses, local arts, local culture," said Director of Operations for The Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, Nicole Underwood.

Angela Ramirez is the co-owner of 5th Street Dance Studio. She's been on RoRo for nearly three years, and says it is definitely the place to be.

"Now it's starting to get the attention that, you know, all of us as a community have worked really hard putting us on the map," Ramirez said.

It's already received accolades for its restaurants, coffee shops, galleries and live music scene.

Now the district as a whole is being recognized by a national newspaper. USA Today named RoRo as one of the 10 Best City Art Districts in the U.S.

"We're really thrilled because it really honors the people that work so hard to make this place what it is," Underwood said.

The paper cites part of the district's appeal as its walk-ability, the monthly First Friday Artwalks which regularly draw a lot of participation from businesses and visitors as well as the number of galleries and quirky shops.

"What we really want to exemplify here is that it's not just an arts district, it's an artists' district," said Underwood.

For that, look no further than Mother Bunch Brewery, the newest addition to The Roosevelt District.

"It doesn't matter what your form of creativity is; you feel a part of the community here," Mother Bunch Owner Julie Meeker said.

In fact the brew pub and restaurant which just opened its doors for business on Monday already has big plans in the works.

From working to curate a rotating art program featuring different local artists on First Fridays to filling the interior walls with local artists' works, the plans are extensive.

"I'm taking proposals from local artists to do some murals for us. I think that will make us feel even more a part of the arts community then," Meeker said.

A community that is proud of the high praise and national spotlight but firmly focused on a future that looks brighter than ever.

"We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us; it's definitely not over. But it's good to celebrate when these moments happen," Underwood said.

For more information on the history of the area and a complete list of upcoming projects, exhibits and events check out RoRo's website.