If there’s one theme ArtsPartners continues to drive home in 2004, it’s the theme of discovery. In past columns, we’ve addressed how this discovery theme has played out in the new Discover Peoria Welcome Signs at several entrances to the city. Then, we engaged participants in a discussion on ways our community can discover new ways of building a vibrant and culturally rich community at the widely acclaimed Discovery Forum in February. Soon thereafter, ArtsPartners unveiled some colorful Discover Peoria Arts street banners that encourage visitors and residents alike to discover the arts in music, dance, drama, and exhibits.

In short, the discovery theme dominates the ArtsPartners mindset. It remains our mantra, our primary focus to be worked throughout 2004, month after month, angle after creative angle.

The great news is the idea of creative discovery is catching on. To our delight, we’re finding out our community wants to discover a better, brighter community right along with us. Only days after the Discovery Forum, we received an invitation from a local service organization, The Pilot Club, to be a participant in its first "Imagination Celebration!" to be held from 1 to 5 p.m., May 2, at the RiverPlex in downtown Peoria.

Because this service organization believes every individual has the capacity to be creative, the event will provide many opportunities for participants to discover that creative potential. Out of its desire to educate all ages on the unlimited possibilities of our individual and collective brain power, there will be Imagination Stations, which range from musical fun and appreciation to journaling to making memory books to a variety of artistic expressions-even plants that kids can transplant into a small pot they can decorate as a Mother’s Day gift.

We applaud the Pilot Club’s creative idea so much that ArtsPartners will have a presence there. At our display, we’ll give attendees the same opportunity as those who attended the Discovery Forum: a chance to write or draw on huge rolls of paper their vision of a new, creative, culturally rich community.

Yet service clubs aren’t the only groups who’ve jumped on the creative bandwagon and have followed through with implementing some of the creative ideas suggested at the Discovery Forum. Immediately following the Forum, several local businesses indicated to ArtsPartners an interest in displaying and selling local artwork at their facilities and asked us to help facilitate the process by finding willing artists, which we gladly did. Two businesses, Mass Mutual and The Prairie Building, hope to engage patrons in celebrating the wealth of local art that flourishes right before all of our eyes.

As ArtsPartners fosters the theme of discovery this year, particularly in the area of the arts, one thing is certain: We continue to invite any and all of you to discover a better, brighter community right along with us. Whether you share an idea you think may help create the type of community that puts arts and culture on the local map or you wish to serve on a team that puts one of these good ideas into action, please give us a call. We’ll welcome you as a part of the "Knowledge Economy," a term appropriately adopted by Peoria NEXT because it signifies thinkers committed to using their creative brainpower to build a brighter economic future for our entire community.

Yes, we’re looking for a few good dreamers and doers. Actually, we’re looking for lots of good dreamers and doers. Join us in our own world of discovery. Let’s dream it-then do it. AA!