COORDINATE PROGRAMS & EDUCATION
To begin, the Spencer Arts District should focus on a few annual district-wide events, while at the same time monitoring the programming and education being offered in the district to understand where offerings can be expanded. Long-term, the District can introduce new programming where gaps exist and should work towards operating new cultural facilities. Shifting towards revenue-generating programs will decrease reliance on fundraising while at the same time be steered by representatives of the local arts organizations to make sure the District is not negatively impacting any of those organizations.
MONITORING EXISTING PROGRAMMING
The District Coordinator (or, before this person is hired, the Board of Directors) should establish clear communication with the range of organizations in the Arts District, including:
- Arts on Grand
- Spencer Main Street
- Clay County Heritage
- Spencer Community School District
- Clay County Fair
- Spencer Community Theatre
- Spencer Community Library
- CAIM Creative Co.
- Other groups
With activities listed on a shared calendar and regular meetings established, the Arts District can be a clearinghouse of information, and the Coordinator will be able to encourage rescheduling of programs to maximize attendance. Be creative with rescheduling: two events on the same night could be a win-win if the times are staggered and participants can purchase tickets to both through one mechanism.
The Coordinator will also develop and test out cross-promotional activity under the umbrella of the Spencer Arts District. These will include:
- Dinner and a show – reduced meal price at participating local restaurants before or after productions at Spencer Community Theatre
- Cross-promotions through social media
- Dual opening nights at Clay County Heritage and Arts on Grand with street performers in between
In addition, building on the Community Visioning results from this Action Plan, the Coordinator will determine gaps in programs and work with participating organizations to develop new programs to fill those gaps.
A consistent theme during visioning sessions was the desire for more arts education classes for all ages. Upon further interviews and research, it became apparent that many people in Spencer do not know of the existing arts education offerings, be it private music lessons, painting classes at Arts on Grand, or other classes. Similar to the approach to District programming, the Coordinator will ensure all existing classes are included on marketing materials. The Coordinator will also identify gaps in the existing programming and determine which District organization can help translate those gaps into new programming.
INITIAL ARTS DISTRICT PROGRAMMING
The District should introduce at least one annual event which can act as a fundraiser for the operations of the District. This can be guided by the Board of Directors to ensure too much overlap with existing fundraising events is avoided.
In addition, to begin with the District can facilitate low-risk, low-investment events which can grow over time. An example of this would be the FIRST FRIDAYS event in the Crossroads District in Kansas City, where arts organizations, galleries, and local businesses all feature local art and entertainment on the first Friday of the month from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Started in 1995 with a small group of attendees and galleries, the event now sees up to 10,000 attendees each week.
LONG TERM ARTS DISTRICT PROGRAMMING
Over time, the District will have the capacity to expand programming, working with District organizations to determine which events the District will run, and which events the organizations can take on. The long-term program plan of the District will fall into three categories
- Co-productions with member organizations, where each organization brings different strengths to the table
- District-wide events (such as First Friday) which provide equal exposure to member organizations and the District at large, and which can not only fundraise for the District but create a shared pool of resources to be allocated within the District
- Independent events not within the capacity of member organizations
- *A Cultural Districts Event Guide is available in Appendix J
RE-GRANTING / PROFIT SHARE AGREEMENTS
The District should work the city, county, and local funders to determine programs for which the District can act as a re-granting organization for arts and culture grants. This can range from public art grants to capacity building grants for organizations.
National grants specific to nonprofit collaboration, city- or neighborhood-wide initiatives, or larger event series which would normally not apply to specific Spencer organizations should be a primary focus for the District fundraising. This work will help ensure local resources are not being diverted away from existing organizations – instead, this is widening the potential pool of funding resources.
In addition, over time as public events grow the revenue from large-scale events can be pooled and allocated proportionally to all organizations within the District.
MURALS & PUBLIC ART
With the recently approved mural ordinance, the Arts District can be both the vehicle through which artists are selected and the public can provide input, as well as the launching place for the mural program. Consider high-profile walls which could be identified for murals, such as the Heritage Center facing south or the north-facing non-historic wall of Gary’s. A mural could also double as wayfinding and gateway signage for the Arts District.
The city should designate future mural funding to be at least partially allocated towards the Arts District. Should city funding not be available, a mural resource guide in Appendix K can provide more ideas for potential funding sources.
SPACE should work closely with the Arts District director to act as the facilitator of public art, raising SPACE’s profile and body of work and bringing in additional collaborators.
Complete online calendar and undergo event audit to determine gaps
Once all organizations are using the shared online calendar, refer to Community Visioning results and Cultural Facility Budgets (in Appendix O) to determine programming gaps and potential new programming.
Launch First Fridays event
Spencer Arts District, all participating organizations
Determine timing and programming for First Fridays events. Solicit buy-in from local restaurants and shops to stay open late one day a month from May – September for year one. Launch marketing for First Fridays event by February 2020.