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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2010

Perrysburg Arts Council seeks strategic plan input

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

As it develops a strategic plan, the Perrysburg Area Arts Council hopes to create community interest for a celebration to mark the city's bicentennial.

Forums are being held, including one today, as part of the arts council's strategic-planning process.

A five-year plan would take the arts council through 2015, and would bring the group to the "brink of the Perrysburg bicentennial" in 2016, said Diana Hersch, arts council president.

Community expectations of cultural arts programming will be discussed from 7 to 9 tonight in the Way Public Library in Perrysburg during a forum sponsored by the Perrysburg Area Arts Council's board of trustees.

A forum will be held in the township, but no date or location has been set.

As part of the strategic plan process, Perrysburg area residents are being asked to complete a survey that will help shape future arts programming.

Surveys will be available at the forums and online later at perrysburgarts.org. The survey will give the community a chance to have input in what the arts council is doing now and into the future, Mrs. Hersch said.

Comments will be sought from area arts organizations, business leaders, elected officials, arts patrons, and other Perrysburg area residents.

"What we are hoping people will do is look around and see what is needed," Mrs. Hersch said.

The arts council celebrated 20 years of programming which included an Art Along the River exhibit, musical performances, scholarships, and expanded children's art classes, and Mrs. Hersch said it seems fitting in 2010 to launch a five-year strategic plan to ensure future actions result in sustainable art and the success of the arts council. And, too, it could trigger talk about the city's bicentennial.

"We want to begin to spark the imagination of this community," she said, noting other communities have thrown special bicentennial events, such as a town where bushes were pruned into the shape of a birthday cake.

She said she'd love to see a "creative extravaganza" to celebrate Perrysburg's bicentennial. Communities can get bogged down by the economy, but she's counting on Perrysburg's passion for its community to come forward in a positive way.

Earlier this year the arts council hired Executive Director Valerie French, who, together with Assistant Director Jennifer Solon, has scheduled the organization's summer and fall event lineup, which includes the addition of a July 10 Midsummer ArtFest and Rockin' at RiverPlace.

The art fest will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the evening event will run from 6 p.m. to midnight, featuring The Speds band, at the Shoppes at RiverPlace.

The arts council is conserving its financial resources by forming other partnerships as well, such as with Imagination Station to bring Creation Station art-of-science activities to First Fridays in downtown Perrysburg.

The arts council is funded through the Ohio Arts Council, the City of Perrysburg, Perrysburg Township, corporate sponsors, other community-minded businesses, and through its membership.

To honor the support the organization receives from the city and Perrysburg Township, "we are asking what the community wants, what it wants to see" in the strategic plan, Ms. Hersch said.

"By generating sustained support and appreciation for the arts, we are incubating new talent and creative thinking," she added.

Sustaining arts and cultural activities can be a "difficult task in a daunting economy," she said, but "we want the arts council to survive. We want it to continue. That's where creative thinking comes into play.

"We want to create an environment where culture and art thrive. In turn, it enriches the community economically, aesthetically, and culturally, and enhances education in the community," Mrs. Hersch said.

She described the arts council as a catalyst.

"It drives our creative economy," she said, linking private supporters, nonprofit groups, artists, residents, and the audience.

"Where art and culture thrive, we can create partnerships to make us more successful," she said.



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