Archive for Friday, June 11, 2010

Creative thinking

The Lawrence Arts Center is a treasured local tradition but it also needs to have a dynamic vision for the future.

June 11, 2010


After 35 years of fostering local arts of all kinds, wonderful to see the Lawrence Arts Center not only celebrating its past but also looking to the future.

During the last 35 years, the arts center has been a focal point of community activity for people of all ages. It has gone the extra mile to make its facilities and programs available to everyone in Lawrence.

Most of that time, former director Ann Evans was at the helm, using every inch of the old Carnegie library building at Ninth and Vermont for performances, exhibits and events. Evans and a group of committed volunteers dreamed of a larger space to accommodate even more activity and were able to work with the city and raise the necessary funding to build the new arts center at 940 N.H.

Evans’ retirement prompted some unsettled times at the center, but Susan Tate, a former Lawrence High School teacher, who took over as executive director late last year is working hard to get the center back on track. A story in Thursday’s Journal-World indicates she is trying to preserve the best arts center traditions but also look at ways to build the facility’s programs and prestige.

We never want to lose the opportunity the arts center gives Lawrence residents to explore their own creativity and enjoy the creative accomplishments of others. The center truly is one of the city’s most treasured melting pots.

However, it’s also good that Tate is thinking broader and pursuing her vision of turning the center into a destination for artists who want some time to immerse themselves in their work and teach others about what they do. The arts center already offers yearlong residencies in printmaking and ceramics. You wouldn’t necessarily think Lawrence was a mecca for such opportunities, but the two existing residencies each attract 20 to 30 applicants each year.

Working with the fine arts and education programs at Kansas University, Tate hopes to expand residency offerings. The plan also would help support tentative plans to establish a better-defined arts district in downtown Lawrence. Performances, exhibits and other activities that draw visitors from inside and outside Lawrence to the arts center and other downtown locations would be a boon to the local arts scene, as well as benefiting the local economy.

The Lawrence Arts Center has been a great gift to this community for 35 years. It’s great to see its leaders trying to make sure it’s a gift that keeps on giving.


Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

The determining characteristic of a college town is that one or more colleges or universities have a prevailing impact on all aspects of life within the community. As someone who has done business on campuses all across the country, here are my Top 10 College Towns in America:

  1. Gainesville, Florida
  2. Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  3. Berkeley, California
  4. Madison, Wisconsin
  5. Athens, Georgia
  6. Charlottesville, Virginia
  7. State College, Pennsylvania
  8. Tempe, Arizona
  9. Boulder, Colorado
  10. Amherst, Massachusetts

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Phoenixville's Arts and Entertainment Economic Development Strategy

There has been four million dollars designated for the downtown streetscape project.

The use of the arts and entertainment vehicles for drawing people to come to the downtown commercial area will generate a change in the perception of the downtown. Repositioning a town in the regional marketplace is not a short term effort. Years of image influencing events has shaped Phoenixville's downtown image. The physical improvements have improved the presentation of the downtown. The effort over a 20 year period will ensure that the town remains revitalized and is functioning at a higher level of commerce generation for years to come.

Over the twenty year period there are many arts infrastructure projects which will need to be completed to define the downtown's efforts in repositioning. One or two large signature sculptures which possibly could cost in the area of $300,000 would be commissioned to recognized artists.

Murals will need to be phased in throughout the downtown to enable a critical mass of art located in a specific four block area. Music venues and outdoor performances will distinguish the area and draw crowds to the town and, depending upon the act, bring new visitors to the town.

There will be a need to publicize the fact that we are an arts and entertainment district in order to allow for the concept to grow in the regional marketplace. The arts infrastructure will evolve in the first ten to twelve years.

Images are created over decades of continuous reinforcement and needs a long term strategy. Repositioning of a downtown area in a new and fresh direction needs time to develop and needs the support and interest of the entire community.

The City of Philadelphia has recently appropriated 150 million dollars in arts funding to support the arts in the City. Our effort will be much smaller but equal in many ways. We will distinguish ourselves as a smaller alternate venue for arts and entertainment. The very act of providing a complimentary and sometimes competing entity will enable the Bough to present a lesser cost and closer alternative for the entertainment and cultural dollar.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Despite a crumbling national economy, a state budget crisis, rising employment rates and recession, East Lansing and Lansing officials said they have a plan for recovery. Officials from Lansing, East Lansing and MSU unveiled their hope Tuesday evening to create local jobs and revenue by converting Greater Lansing into a Midwest regional arts and culture epicenter.

“This will contribute positively to the economy, to our quality of life and to the sense of place that motivates investment in the region,” Lori Mullins, community and economic development administrator, wrote in an e-mail.

The plan will emphasise arts and culture as a means to create jobs and attract tourists to the area.

Milwaukee-based planning firm Creative Community Builders devised the plan after a series of meetings with residents, city officials and experts.

The plan emphasizes adding room for arts and culture to existing projects to improve Greater Lansing.

One project mentioned was integrating ideas from the study into an existing plan to renovate the Michigan Avenue corridor or beginning smaller projects such as a community calendar or box office to centrally locate information about arts in Lansing, East Lansing and MSU.

“It does not go into great detail, ‘You will do this, you will do that,’” Creative Community Builders principal Tom Borrup said. “There are some starter, momentum builders, in the plan.”

Borrup said when he and his team of associates came to assess the area in May, he wasn’t sure whether Greater Lansing was a fertile place for creative development. But he found a place with resources and activity to foster cultural growth.

“It was pretty quick, we started to pick up on the fact that there were all of these things going on, but they needed to be stitched together in a better way,” Borrup said.

Borrups’ company suggested Lansing, East Lansing and MSU should work more closely as cultural entities to support artists and growth.

Some of the suggestions included making a more artist friendly community and using the arts as a way to attract visitors to Greater Lansing.

Through focus groups, resident surveys, case studies and public meetings, he discovered a high volume of young professionals and an infrastructure that supported more arts.

Borrup and his company did research about trends locally and nationwide. He found that a younger crowd is moving into Greater Lansing and is looking for more opportunities to engage in cultural experiences. Borrup also found that more people were listing themselves as self-employed through the arts.

“While the economy has shrunk overall, there is a counter trend in the creative sector,” he said.

Funding for the improvements will come on a project to project basis, with each one being a part of the larger picture to stimulate artistic and cultural development.

Officials plan to partner with private entities

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Smart Cities in America - Recession Proof Cities

Three Smartest Cities Lists attracted much attention on the Internet in the 2000s and into the 2010s.

The Money Magazine and lists consider cities in which the largest percentages of people possess a Bachelor's or higher college degree. The Beast has its own criteria for "smart," which differ from those of the first first two.

Another rationale to use for city intelligence is tied with economic growth and considers the number and quality of postsecondary educational facilities available in American cities. These include universities, colleges, tech schools, vocational schools, or career academies.

The following is the list of Top 20 College Towns in the US and all of them have shown jobs growth in 2008 - 2009, in spite of a recession. These cities seem to be recession-proof.

More schools,fewer homes and strip malls!

Schools make money !

New Homes and strip malls increase taxes!

tomatogrower 7 years, 10 months ago

"You wouldn’t necessarily think Lawrence was a mecca for such opportunities, but the two existing residencies each attract 20 to 30 applicants each year."

What? Lawrence is considered a mecca for artists. There are lots of artists who live here or nearby. Where does this writer live? Not in the same Lawrence that I live in.

Kookamooka 7 years, 10 months ago

Why is this an editorial? Shouldn't this be more of a feature? There doesn't seem to be much, if any, opinion in this piece. It is very factual.

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