Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Message from the Center for the Arts Steering Committee


An Update for the Community January 2009

In 2009, the Yellow Springs Center for the Arts Steering Committee is embarking on the third phase of its project and we would like to update the community with a review of where we have been, where we are now, and what we plan to do next.

Several years ago, Lee Morgan approached some local theater artists about the possibility of creating a theater in Yellow Springs. A working group was brought together around that idea, and the concept eventually expanded to embrace other arts disciplines. The Yellow Springs Center for the Arts Steering Committee was formed and took on the mission to "build and operate an artistically, architecturally, and programmatically distinctive arts center that draws the community together."

To assist with this task, the YSCA engaged consultants Tom Borrup and George Sutton, who have expertise in community cultural planning and cultural facility development. The group process has been deliberate and has proceeded at a measured pace that has been able to adapt to changes in the community.

The first phase of the process, which took place in 2007, was a period of discovery and visioning. Through meetings, interviews, and research an "inventory" of Yellow Springs' cultural assets was created, which includes our history of creative entrepreneurship, a large artist population, a breadth of cultural activities unusual for a community this size, an extraordinarily high level of volunteer commitment to these activities, educational institutions with the arts infused in their curriculum, and a strong desire to do something unique that sets us apart as a community of choice.

In March 2007, a three-day community meeting brought more than 300 people together to envision an arts center for Yellow Springs, and a set of core values emerged. These included the need for both financial and environmental sustainability, keeping and improving Yellow Springs as a good place for artists to live and work, supporting existing arts organizations, producing festivals that celebrate and promote the arts, and "raising" artists with both arts education and immersion in a community that values the arts.

Toward the end of the first phase, a new idea began to emerge: rather than focus on creating a single structure or new organization, a holistic plan was established that envisioned Yellow Springs itself as a "center for art" that engages not only artistic disciplines and cultures but social, commercial, civic, environmental, and educational interests of the community as well.

There was a need for a community-wide strategic investment in creative people, organizations, and the spaces in which they work. In 2008, the YSCA Steering Committee moved into the second phase of its work by developing and testing a three-pronged approach:
1. Increase Capacity: Strengthen the cultural, educational, and economic vitality of the Yellow Springs community through a holistic approach that builds on the human capital and organizational fabric. The YSCA project has been working with several organizations to increase their capacity. The Yellow Springs Arts Council has expanded to include all arts disciplines and arts supporters, with a revitalized board of trustees that is focusing on arts advocacy and creating connectivity between artists, arts organizations, and the community. The Little Art Theatre is transitioning to a nonprofit organization in order to help assure its long-term survival. YS Kids Playhouse is developing a business plan that will expand its successful programming and address its need for a home from which to operate.
2. Establish Identity: Establish a strong identity that defines Yellow Springs as a creative and innovative community of choice. Working with the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Arts Council, the YSCA is helping to promote Yellow Springs as a creative community and cultural destination through events such as Summer in the Springs. A public art program, with temporary and permanent art, will highlight the energy, creativity, and history of Yellow Springs at its gateways and gathering places.
3. Provide Facilities: Improve and/or create facilities that support the performing, literary, and visual arts. Planned facilities include a downtown office/gallery space/administrative home for the Arts Council and other groups; improvements to the Little Art Theatre to increase accessibility and comfort for patrons; an outdoor performance space; and a high-quality indoor performance space.

This year, the YSCA Steering Committee is moving forward with its facilities initiatives and development of a public art plan. We will continue to work with the Arts Council, the Little Art, and YSKP to build their capacity. We plan to complement and be a resource to the activities at McGregor and the Nonstop Institute, and also the efforts to revive Antioch College. We believe in Yellow Springs' future as a creative community with vital business and educational assets and a lively downtown district. By this time next year, we will also have a site purchase option and a preliminary design and business plan for a performing arts facility, and be ready for a capital fundraising campaign.

The YSCA Steering Committee is looking forward to sharing more details of its plans with the Yellow Springs community in 2009. Community input has provided the focus to our vision and work and it is the community that continues to motivate our efforts. We appreciate your continued interest and support.

Jerome Borchers, Chair
Jane Baker, Vice Chair

2009 YSCA Steering Committee Members: Jane Baker, Vice Chair; Harden Ballantine; Jerome Borchers, Chair; Anita Brown; Mary Campbell-Zopf; Luke Dennis; John Fleming, Secretary; Paul Graham; Ellis Jacobs; Rick Kristensen; Amy Lee; Rob Lytle, Treasurer; Gayle Rominger; Laura Carlson, Project Coordinator

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog -- thank you, Virgil, for including this update about the YS Arts Center project.--Laura Carlson