Arts and cultural institutions such as theaters, museums and galleries as well as public art installations are an important part of creating livable communities. They add unique flavor and nuance to each community, enhance civic vitality, and invigorate our lives and public spaces.
Earlier in December, I moderated a panel that focused on financing to sustain Ohio’s arts and cultural ecosystem, held at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus. More than 160 “keepers of culture” from around Ohio attended this first-of-a-kind conference dedicated to finding ways to enhance the state’s quality of life through the arts.
The panelists included David Alexander, commercial banking relationship manager at US Bank; Jason Rittenberg, director of research and advisory services at Council of Development Finance Agencies, and Hugh Grefe, senior executive director at Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
Two of the organizations highlighted are Finance Fund partners:
- Franklinton Development Association (FDA) Executive Director Jim Sweeney described how FDA is
encouraging the link between art, community and innovation through such projects as the Columbus Idea Foundry, the Franklinton Urban Scrawl festival and the development of artists’ life/work spaces.
- Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. was represented by Executive Director Tim Tramble, who described their work in Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood to support housing and commercial development, along with art- based community building initiatives.
Other highlights of the day-long session included a keynote presentation from Jamie Bennett, executive director of ArtPlace America. This Cleveland native is a recognized leader in community based arts projects that are transformational. Also on the podium was fellow Buckeye Matthew Fluharty, director of Art of the Rural, a nonprofit group in St. Louis that works to support arts projects in rural America and expand the rural arts and humanities network.
Throughout the day, one facet of every conversation was very clear: as communities seek ways to stand out, progress economically and attract more businesses and residents, many are turning to the arts to transform public venues, reinforce culture and regenerate places to live, work and play.