Follow The Republic:
A downtown Columbus arts district will become a reality, even if state officials fail to give it their formal designation and their promotion.
So say leaders of a plan to emphasize small art galleries and spaces, theater performances, live music, noted architecture and more for residents seeking entertainment.
The Indiana Arts Commission’s stringent program for naming Indiana Cultural Districts provides tourism promotion for selected cities.
Local leaders are pursuing that designation, given to only Bloomington, Carmel and Lafayette in the four years of the program. The first hurdle is a pre-application deadline in early August, which includes a map of existing cultural landmarks and offerings.
Mayor Kristen Brown, who launched the arts district idea with an organizing committee early this year, said this week that her ultimate goal is to make Columbus “the creative and cultural capital of the state.”
Toward that end, her Columbus Arts and Culture Advisory Committee has expanded to a group of planners and helpers numbering more than 50, according to committee member Jack Hess, who also is president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.
While Brown still is willing to consider spending some public dollars on refurbishing the 137-year-old, 600-seat Crump Theatre downtown, she now believes it probably would have to be self-sustaining or supported with private funds in a new role rather than have its operating costs supported with city money as she hinted in April.
“And I know we probably won’t be able to recoup an initial investment,” Brown said. “But there are a wide variety of audiences we could address there. The difficulty is that we’re dealing with a very limited budget these days.”
In Bloomington, an annual fundraising campaign helps cover expenses for the 600-seat Buskirk-Chumley Theatre.
A management company operates the facility for the city. But the Bloomington Area Arts Council had to have a $700,000 bailout from city officials in 2001 just to keep it operating.
Whatever happens to The Crump, Hess and committee chairwoman Karen Shrode said an arts district can feature a renewed emphasis on elements such as music, art, architecture and dining, plus new elements such as street theater.
Hess said he sees Fourth Street as a heartbeat for entertainment. Fifth Street, he said, is “a natural architectural corridor,” with the Bartholomew County Public Library, First Christian Church and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.
Washington Street represents a major commercial corridor. And Jackson Street “is fast becoming an arts and education corridor,” he said.
Planners will meet July 11 to 13 for what they are calling “visioning days” for the district to entertain ideas and brainstorm.
They then will invite the public’s input two weeks later.
“This is all very organic,” Hess said. “Now, we’re looking at new investments we think the community can make within those (mapped) corridors or districts to catalyze those districts even further.”
Brown said they’re flexible on plans, except for one element.
“We’ve drawn only one hard line in the sand — that everything we do must be accessible, socially and physically, to every child and adult here,” Brown said.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.