We recommend that the action steps laid out in this plan are followed, but understand this plan is made as a guide for the cultural community in Spencer. People, organizations, and local contexts will change – that is inevitable. What is most important – and what should always remain – is the understanding that collaboration and co-production is the rising tide that will lift all ships. Sustaining cultural organizations is difficult in cities of all sizes. Successful cultural districts and the organizations contained within them all share a similar trait: a focus on building a stronger creative community.
The Spencer Arts District should evolve over time to always have a seat at the table – as Spencer grows, so should the roles and programs of the district. In the face of long-range, big-dollar development plans, this plan should be seen as the first step towards what’s next – achievable, community-driven wins. By moving quickly, the board and eventual staff of the district will lead by example, guiding the future growth to be unique and authentic to Spencer.
Community buy-in and participation are essential – the leadership team must treat this plan and the rolling up of sleeves to organize and collaborate as inevitable. Even during points of the campaign where issues arise, what will carry this through is the determination and teamwork of the leadership team. And rest assured, with perseverance the support will be found, typically from the most unlikely of sources.
We have been honored to work with you. Thank you for opening your homes, businesses, ideas, and community to us. This is an exciting time for Spencer, and we are very excited to see what the future holds.
The next six months should be focused on answering the important questions of who will help manage the District, what the District looks like, and how the District will be managed. Because there is not an existing board or coordinator, it is imperative you move decisively so momentum and energy from this process is not lost. To that end, the most immediate action steps are detailed below.
IDENTIFY ARTS DISTRICT WORKING GROUP
STEERING COMMITTEE, LED BY REPRESENTATIVES OF THE THREE ANCHOR ORGANIZATIONS AND SPENCER ALLIANCE FOR A CREATIVE ECONOMY
In order to maintain the momentum of the Placemaking process, we recommend the process of establishing the working group take place right away. Representatives of each anchor organization should lead the charge in establishing this group, establishing monthly check-in meetings both on their own programming and the District at large. Meet with representatives of SPACE and the SPACE board to determine possible integration of the two organizations.
DEVELOP PARTNERSHIP WITH “NO BOUNDARIES” PROGRAM FOR INITIAL STAFFING
ANCHOR ORGANIZATIONS, SPACE, CITY MANAGER
The No Boundaries program can provide a great opportunity to devote time and attention to the formation of the District and the first public events prior to a staff person being hired. Each anchor organization should bring on one student to work on the District specifically, and these students should be given distinct tasks for the District, including designing student-led events and social media campaigns. Students would begin working in September.
APPLY FOR IOWA GREAT PLACES RE-DESIGNATION
MAY 1, 2019
ANCHOR ORGANIZATIONS, SPENCER ALLIANCE FOR A CREATIVE ECONOMY
This should be an all hands on deck approach due to the limited time to re-apply. Use the framework of the Creative Placemaking process and the Spencer Steering Committee email listserv to assign roles and clearly communicate on completing the application.
DETERMINE WORKING BOUNDARIES OF THE SPENCER ARTS DISTRICT & LEGAL ENTITY STATUS
ANCHOR ORGANIZATIONS, SPACE, CITY STAFF
Determine if the Arts District will act as a standalone entity or part of SPACE. Hold an open meeting with the community to help determine working boundaries and solicit interest from local businesses and artists for potential District board members, with the goal of establishing the board by September 2019.
APPOINT BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND ESTABLISH SPENCER ARTS DISTRICT WITH KICKOFF EVENT
ANCHOR ORGANIZATIONS, STEERING COMMITTEE, SPACE, CITY STAFF
By this time, the dedicated staff from each anchor organization along with the SPACE board of directors should determine the Board or advisory group to oversee the Arts District and officially designate the District. A District-wide event should take place – even on a small scale – to officially launch the District and to set a date for an annual event which can double as a fundraiser in future years.
RECRUIT RESTAURANT OWNER AND OPERATOR
BOARD OF DIRECTORS, PROPERTY OWNERS
The District should work with the building owner to market the available property and business concept to potential owner/operators. Consider a marketing approach which includes the formation of the Arts District as additional incentive and momentum. Reach out to the Iowa Restaurant Association and other industry groups to best promote and market the opportunity.