In the past year, much work has occurred on the Arts Center’s Art Park development. The goal is to have a site plan in place so “dirt” work can begin in early spring 2015. The construction of the park has always been envisioned as phased–the core “floorplan” with infrastructure created first, followed by filling the space with art and programming. Think of it like any house building project, build the house but its just a house until you fill it with life (art, personality and people) and it becomes a home. In this case a home for outdoor creativity, contemplation and conversation in the heart of Jamestown.
Even though the Park is technically owned by The Arts Center by its very nature (outside, open and accessible) it becomes public and the aim is to have the space become part of our community fabric–hence the community has a say in what happens there and to some extent its content. The Park’s location and purpose has great potential for defining (or rather redefining) the character of our community and informing subsequent development of downtown Jamestown.
Having witnessed community development activities in other North Dakota towns, there seems to be a strong need for beauty and uniqueness that is found in other parts of the country. Perhaps it is our harsh winters and conservative roots that have hindered this aspect of community evolution and conversely these attributes make us yearn for more. Today, city-scaping with unique, creative, public spaces, can be very attractive to potential developers and businesses. Our Park plans are already capturing attention as they reflect vibrancy and forward thinking attitudes–tipping points for the attracting newcomers–particularly a creative class–so essential for economic development today.
“Even at this early planning stage, I have already been able to use the art park project as a highlight when swaying a potential developer to consider a downtown location. I am very excited about The Arts Park and what it means for our downtown.” —Katie Anderson, Jamestown’s Mayor during park development meeting on 10/22/14.
So far, we’ve breathed life into the site plan based on lots of community input and planning meetings. We’ve contemplated some of what we can hope to do in the space–scratching only the surface. We wrestle with trying to imagine all the programming possibilities so we can provide the necessary infrastructure in the initial site construction–this is no easy task. Creating programming spaces is a brave new world–eons beyond what it would have been 10 years ago–the technological advancements in audio, visual and virtual are countless, exciting and expensive. How to choose? How do we make sure we provide enough flexibility and opportunity to allow for projects/programs yet to be imagined. Fortunately there are people to help.
In the next month, further community, artist, staff and technical experts will meet and finalize the basic site plan. This document will inform the bidding process for backhoes and earth moving to begin this spring. This plan will also be the basis for discussion about which features can be artist-designed or embellished–opportunities for public art both permanent and temporary–features that will define our community’s shared heritage and pride of place.
Next week look for a discussion on Public Art and I’ll share some insights on how Grand Forks, Bemidji and other regional communities have added public art to their neighborhoods, streets and buildings. This stage of the process is a journey that will reinvigorate Jamestown–so grab a backpack, some sneakers and lets make history–the key to success will be your input and enthusiasm.
The development of the Art Park is funded in part through a Community Innovation Grant from The Bush Foundation with additional support from ArtsLab, a program of Arts Midwest.The Culture Builds Community blog is submitted (almost) weekly by The Arts Center Gallery Manager Sally Jeppson. She would love to hear your comments here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.