True to our name, ArtsPartners is always interested in developing key partners when it comes to promoting the arts as a vital component of our area’s cultural and economic development. Case in point are our recent discussions with the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (PACVB) regarding the arts as a key driver to attracting tourists to the area.
In conversations with PACVB CEO Bob Marx and his staff, we concur that tourism efforts are most successful when a community focuses on its unique aspects, and one of these unique aspects is invariably a strong arts component.
Unquestionably, the work of area artists gives our community its own look, cultural flair and unique personality. Whether you’re taking a stroll through our downtown, along our riverfront, in our public parks or outside many of our area businesses, you’ll see the work of human hands—the creative efforts of our artists who pour their creative lifeblood into providing one-of-a-kind paintings, sculptures and colorful murals designed to touch the heart, dazzle the eye or fire the imagination.
Like us, the PACVB knows how important the arts are to tourism. That’s why they’ve asked us to provide them with key information regarding our area’s public art and architecture, based on our two publications, In Plain Sight and The Art of Structure, so they can draw upon this information when creating various tour packages and itineraries of scheduled activities.
With such stiff competition in the tourism industry, however, Marx has mentioned on more than one occasion that the Peoria area needs to be way ahead of the curve when creating and pricing our tour packages. If our tours don’t have a “pop and sizzle” factor to them, as Heidi Klum says on the TV program, Project Runway, “You’re out.” Dynamic arts and cultural components must be built-in with overall costs, such as two-for-one dinners, discounts at area arts performances, free museum admissions and other amenities, if they are to convince guests from hundreds of miles away to put us first on their list when planning their conventions, bus tours, business meetings and weekend getaways.
Discussions are underway with the PACVB about creating downloadable “self-tours” which tourists will be able to download onto their iPods and take at their own convenience. Presently, PACVB staff are determining just which downtown arts tours to showcase first, and once they do, Dr. Peter Couri, a local historian and member of our board of directors, has graciously offered to assist with writing the copy for these arts tours.
No doubt, our Peoria area is vitally rich in the arts, as evidenced by the nearly 200 pieces of public art we showcase in our popular public art catalog, and the dozens of seminal pieces of architecture highlighted in our public architecture catalog. Like the PACVB, we’re counting on our arts and cultural tours being such a big hit among visitors that they’ll come back for more. As Rosa Sugranes, one-time Small Business Person of the Year through the Small Business Council of America, has stated so simply and so well, “All great cities of commerce are also great cities of culture—there are NO exceptions.” iBi