Because ArtsPartners is still a relatively new organization and we continue to evolve in various and sundry ways, I'd like to take an opportunity this month to clarify our role in the community.

ArtsPartners receives roughly $100,000 a year from the City of Peoria to promote the arts as a whole-the collective arts as we call it-and not individual arts organizations. Whether it's through a recently published public art catalog, a report on arts spending, or an up-to-date calendar of arts performances or exhibits at our Web site at www.artspartners.net, ArtsPartners creates arts awareness and encourages residents and tourists alike to experience the wealth of local arts available to them here in the Peoria area.

We promote the collective arts through 60 city street banners that encourage city patrons and tourists to discover Peoria arts in music, drama, dance, and exhibits. And because ArtsPartners supports creativity in the arts as a primary predictor of Peoria's future success, we serve as a proud co-sponsor with Peoria NEXT in conducting the popular Discovery Forums on creativity. Further, ArtsPartners assists the entire arts community by offering periodic professional development seminars, as well as roundtable discussions focused on ways to encourage collaborative marketing efforts.

In the past year, ArtsPartners has worked particularly hard in engaging the local media to promote the collective arts. In total, the local media donates nearly $175,000 a year through in-kind donations that showcase and promote arts events and performances. As mentioned in previous columns, some of the very special artspartners include ArtsAlive! magazine, WTVP-TV, WEEK-TV, WOAM Radio, WMBD/WYZZ TV, Cable Access 22, Cable 5, the Peoria Times Observer, the Cue and Arts Entertainment section of the Peoria Journal Star online, and our several new Peoria portals, to name a few.

Further, ArtsPartners works with the Peoria Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the hospitality industry in providing a monthly calendar of arts events and performances so when tourists come to town for various conventions, they know just what's playing in Peoria. Other partners include Bradley University, Illinois Central College, District 150, and the Peoria County Regional Office of Education, where we all work together to conduct Arts Career Day for hundreds of high school students interested in pursuing careers in the arts.

As ArtsPartners begins to explore the feasibility of finding even better ways to serve our arts community, we're hoping specialized funding opportunities might be available for organizations like ArtsPartners, whose business isn't to promote ourselves, really, but the arts community we serve. As we explore new ways to promote the arts as a vital component of our city's cultural and economic development, as well as promote our city as one that highly values artistic and cultural enrichment, we want to reassure the very arts organizations we serve and support that it's never been-nor will it ever be-the intention for ArtsPartners to seek any types of funding that would interfere with their own fundraising activities. AA!