Reinvest In Gary Plan – Arts and Culture, Phase I Report

Arts/Culture Committee Report
Prepared by Samuel Love, committee chair
15 November 2018

TOPIC: Arts and Culture

SUMMARY OF ISSUES:

Gary is a creative city with many creative people living and visiting here. There exists a great diversity of interests and talents. Yet we are not fully conscious of our cultural history and some tension exists around perceptions of ‘outsourcing’ arts opportunities at the expense of local artists. The closing of Emerson Visual and Performing Arts School and cuts to the public school system are a matter of enormous concern. Another frequently stated concern was lack of communication and disjointed/insufficient promotion of events. Respondents most certainly see a role for the city in hosting their own arts/culture events, promoting school and local arts/culture events, and generally helping local artists gain greater exposure.

NARRATIVE OF PROGRESS:

Gary has a long and distinct cultural history, and the past few years have seen a tremendous array of activity from groups like LiveArts Studio, Calumet Artist Residency, Decay Devils, Paint Gary, Square One Gallery, ArtHouse, the IUN Arts and Design program, Painted Board Studio, Lake Effect, Open House Gary, West Side High School and Theatre, Gary Historical and Cultural Society, Miller Beach Arts and Culture District, and other groups as well as individual working artists. These and other efforts have transformed the cityscape, especially in downtown and Miller. Ecological conservation, urban farming, and Green Urbanism projects add another dimension. Survey results show a citizenry highly interested and engaged with the arts, in the most broad, creative sense.

KEY FINDINGS:

Artists need multiple revenue streams, the city must support and sustain an environment for that possibility. (Meeting places, inexpensive restaurants, promotion of local arts, good roads and infrastructure.)

Most artists expressed their desire for independence, autonomy, and flexibility. But many expressed the need for help with permits, navigating bureaucracy, networking, and exposure.

Most frequently mentioned ways the city could support art: host events (block parties, festivals, showcases); bring greater attention to Gary artists, help them generate more exposure, show us off with mentions and postings on social media.

“Centralization” was a key idea that was expressed in different ways. This could be a central place for residents and guests to learn about upcoming events, an arts district, museum, or center where people could be guaranteed to meet/see/experience artists and their art.

Neighborhoods are key. Gary has distinct neighborhoods. The city can support exposure and better communication between communities.

Murals in downtown and Miller are very popular with young people and are a source of pride. Older residents have mixed opinions, especially with concerns about ‘outsourcing’ arts jobs at the expense to local artists or aesthetic concerns.

Allow the youth to lead the way. Listen to young people. “The kids are ‘up’ on what is good and their ideas are worth the ear.”

Perhaps the most frequently mentioned theme was supporting arts by supporting the schools, especially the public schools, and teachers.

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