Economic Development Council - 100 SW Water Street in Peoria
Dr. Jeffrey Huberman
The Paducah program was briefly discussed. The City will sponsor a drive down to look at Paducah in October, tentatively Wednesday, October 1, 2008.
Leunig stated that there are several differences between Paducah and Peoria. First of all Paducah was a blank slate with little or no existing artistic community. There were no signs of neglect or apathy toward an artistic community. If anything the opposite was true in their desire to build a place that favors artists they were welcoming creative types with open arms. Paducah committed to make their community an environment healthy for artists to choose to live in. They did this not because they wanted to fill empty house, but because they believed in the power of the arts to enhance their community. One of the symbols of their commitment was to build the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center. The building serves a similar capacity as the Peoria Civic Center Theater but with an important twist. It was built with a mission to enrich and inspire the community. This statement taken from the Carson Center website speaks volumes about the intent and motivation of the people of Paducah. "By their nature, the arts embrace people of all income levels and cultural backgrounds; they eliminate traditional barriers and stimulate creative thinking that stimulates dialog and open communication, and accepts the notion that there are many ways to solve the same problems."
Leunig stated that there are many ways to solve Peoria's problems. We have begun the process by considering one solution that worked for one very different community from our own. He suggested that we use the talents of our citizens, starting with the concerned core of people that we are, to come up with solutions to fit Peoria's needs. We should begin with a list of objectives on which to focus. Are we selling real estate or are we enhancing our community? Do we want to educate our citizen's to the value of creativity or do we want new artists opening and filing new galleries? What do we want to do with existing Peoria artists to help them become more successful? What can local artists do to fill the void left by Sharon Reed's departure from District 150? Can we enrich the lives of our children without the passion that creativity instills? Leunig stated that he resolutely believes that we can and will find answers to the questions that need solutions. Everybody wants to live meaningful lives and this challenge offers us an opportunity to accomplish something greater than what we can as individuals.
There are limited funds for developing an artist relocation program. The Economic Development Department of Peoria could provide $4,950 for the first year. We are looking for other sources in the community to provide additional funding. If anyone knows of anyone who might be interested with funding, please let them know. Economic Development does not have much time to put into this effort, so would likely use an Request for Proposal process to find an organization or individual who would create the program.
The Committee discussed areas where concentrations of artists were located. These include Water Street, the Prairie Center for the Arts, Peoria Heights, ICC, and Bradley University.The Committee noted that the community must support the arts for any program to be successful. The development of the downtown Museum and CAT visitor Center would be helpful.
The Committee discussed possible marketing and advertising efforts. The Committee also discussed the merits of meeting Mark Barone. Mark helped create the Paducah program, and is now a consultant working for communities who want to develop similar programs.
The Committee discussed what brings artists to Peoria. An attractive community with lower cost housing and interesting architectural character are some of the strengths. The ICC and Bradley University programs educate a large number of artists, few of whom stay in Peoria. They prefer larger cities with bigger art communities.San Antonio was discussed as a community that has created some good programs.
The next meeting is tentatively set for August 13, 2008 at 10:00 am at Bradley University. City Economic Development staff will try to line up Mark Barone or others familiar with the Paducah programs to discuss their efforts with the committee via video teleconference. Please invite anyone who would be interested and be of help in starting the program. For more information visit: