You’ve probably seen some of those popular home improvement shows on cable TV like Trading Spaces or Design on a Dime. What ArtsPartners is doing these days sounds just like one of these shows: Creating Spaces, because we’ve been working hard to create spaces that will better serve the arts community.
One of the first spaces we’ve been working on is our new headquarters. When we were told in March that our office space, so graciously donated to us by Jim Thrush at The Prairie Building, would no longer be available, we spent considerable time and energy looking for just the right location that would give us the perfect creative space in which to serve our arts organizations.
As you can imagine, each of the spaces we explored had its advantages and disadvantages, but through it all, one organizational need remained clear: We wanted to be downtown where the arts scene is. Like the song from the 1960s, ArtsPartners wanted to be "in with the arts crowd and go where the arts crowd goes." This crowd includes the likes of the Peoria Art Guild, Apollo Theater, Peoria Symphony, Opera Illinois, Illinois Ballet, Contemporary Arts Center, and WTVP-47, to name a few.
In our search to find just the right creative space, one stood out above the rest-where Pat Sullivan and John Hunt have been doing a lot of creative space developing of their own, right along the riverfront at State and Water streets.
When Pat told us he was interested in holding more outdoor festivals for weekend arts and music activities, his goals sounded uncannily like our own: "To nurture, promote and serve the creative and cultural arts." The more he talked, the more we knew this was the space for us. In mid-July, we moved to Le Vieux Carre, 114 State Street, on the second floor of this growing development complex, in a former banquet room located above Rizzi’s and Kelleher’s restaurants.
Our plans are to use our new office space in multiple, creative ways. First, we’re offering our space to arts organizations after hours and on weekends for:
- board meetings.
- gallery openings.
- art displays.
- volunteer recognition events.
Second, because we’ve been building an ongoing resource library of sorts, we’re inviting smaller arts organizations who may not have access to a computer or the Internet, to use our space for:
- conducting research on the Web.
- exploring grant opportunities.
- using our copy machine for mailings, fliers, etc.
Third, we’re holding our own mini-receptions and brainstorming sessions with arts organizations to discuss ways we can work together to promote and develop the arts. In addition, we’ve produced a video we’re presenting to our arts organizations at our new site, based on our recently published economic report, "The Arts As Big Business," which tells how vitally important the arts are to our area’s economic prosperity.
To ensure people identify with our new location, we’re also holding our annual meeting at our new headquarters from 5 to 7 p.m., August 26. At our annual meeting, we’ll recognize an ArtsPartner of the Year-a person, group, or business that has served as a strong advocate for the arts in the past year.
ArtsPartners is also creating other types of spaces designed to promote the arts, including:
- a display case on the first floor of City Hall so arts and cultural organizations can promote upcoming arts events or concerts. This former bulletin board has been transformed into an attractive four feet by five feet display case, thanks to permission given to ArtsPartners by the City of Peoria.
- a monthly feature that will air on WEEK-TV early this fall. The segment, produced by Professor Bob Jacobs of Bradley University, will focus on the exceptional work of the professional arts organizations in the area.
- a weekly radio segment each Friday on WOAM-1350 during "Breakfast with Royce and Roger." This segment, which airs at 8:45 am, gives ArtsPartners updates and promotes weekend arts and cultural events in the area.
- preliminary discussions with WTVP-47 on ways ArtsPartners can work with the channel in promoting arts events with regional appeal.
- a Welcome To Peoria Sign Project that ArtsPartners has undertaken with the City of Peoria, whereby artistic and colorful welcome signs will be erected at 11 entrances to the city later this fall.
These are just a few of the ways ArtsPartners is creating spaces where the arts can thrive; others are a listed on our Web site at www.artspartners.net. In ways both large and small, the ArtsPartners board and staff look forward to finding even more creative spaces that will draw all of the arts together-and draw the community to all of the arts. AA!