Mayor Kristen Brown invites community members to review the Columbus Arts District Strategic Plan, which was recently completed and is available for download.
The strategic plan outlines the vision and goals for the Columbus Arts District, highlights the benefits of a well-developed district, discusses the opportunity to build upon the strong foundation of art, architecture, culture and infrastructure in downtown Columbus and recommends more than 40 projects and initiatives.
“The arts and culture enrich our lives in compelling ways and help us attract and retain a diverse array of talented people and strengthen our local economy and tax base,” Mayor Brown said. “This plan will serve as the framework to ensure the Columbus Arts District is developed to provide a variety of experiences that are appealing, affordable and accessible to everyone in our community.”
Mayor Brown conceived the idea for an arts district in Columbus with the long-term, ambitious goal of developing the city into the “the cultural and creative capital of the Midwest.” Downtown Columbus was chosen as the site of the Columbus Arts District because it is home to a large concentration of the city’s cultural assets and recent investments in urban infrastructure.
The Columbus Arts District has been defined locally and was designated in December 2012 as an Indiana Cultural District by the Indiana Arts Commission. Columbus is one of only five Indiana Cultural Districts in the state.
The 36-page strategic plan was created by the Columbus Arts District Planning Committee, which consisted of more than two dozen community members representing the breadth of arts and culture in Columbus. The committee drew heavily from the ideas of a variety of stakeholders and the public about their visions for what the arts district should become. Valuable public input was gathered through stakeholder dialogues, visioning workshops, surveys and public open houses. As a result of the community discussion, a shared vision emerged of an arts and cultural district.
Mayor Brown has convened a public-private coalition to implement the strategic plan and manage the development of the Columbus Arts District. The coalition consists of 11 members, representing a diverse group of stakeholder organizations and residents.
The members include Mayor Brown; Columbus Redevelopment Commission Director Heather Pope; Columbus Area Arts Council Executive Director Karen Shrode; Kelly Wilson, Director and Associate Professor of the Indiana University Center for Art+Design Columbus; Columbus Area Visitors Center Executive Director Lynn Lucas; Tracy Souza, President and CEO of the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County; Downtown Merchants Association President Terry Whittaker; Downtown Restaurants Association President Kurt Schwarze; Institute for Coalition Building Executive Director Jack Hess; and residents and art advocates Sherry Stark and Hutch Schumaker.
The coalition will coordinate the work of six teams totaling more than 50 members, which will focus on projects and initiatives in six categories: facilities development and preservation, art and programming, art and design education, art and artisan retail, urban infrastructure, and arts tourism. The projects and initiatives outlined in the strategic plan are recommendations. The next step of the plan will be to create detailed, project-level blueprints to realize the vision of the Columbus Arts District.
“We will consult with the public about each public works project as they develop. The Columbus Arts District is for the entire community, and public input will play a significant role in continuing to guide its development,” Mayor Brown said.