|Project:||Imagine Chattanooga 20/20|
|Organization:||Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga|
|Tom White, Ruth Holmberg, and Tom Wolf|
What is the project?
What can arts and culture do for our community? That’s the question that Imagine Chattanooga 20/20 mobilized the community to answer. Imagine Chattanooga 20/20, Chattanooga’s cultural plan reflects the work of more than 400 members of the community. Through a nine-month process coordinated by Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga, a diverse array of elected officials, community leaders, citizens, artists, students, and arts organizations' staff and board members contributed input resulting in a powerful plan that addresses how arts and culture can impact virtually all aspects of community life.
Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga is a private, nonprofit united arts fund and arts council, established in 1969. It provides a united voice for all cultural organizations and activities in Hamilton County, TN. Four years ago Allied Arts developed a strategic plan and one of the recommendations from the plan was that a new communitywide cultural plan be completed. The last cultural plan for Chattanooga was developed way back in 1990. Allied Arts began to develop a strategy to implement this recommendation from the strategic plan. It also was approached by the Kresge Foundation who had an interest in funding a viability and sustainability study focused on cultural organizations in Chattanooga. Allied Arts engaged consultants WolfBrown to complete organizational assessments of Allied Arts as well as 14 arts organizations and this became phase one of a community cultural plan for Chattanooga.
After this review of organizations, Allied Arts quickly seized the opportunity to move into a full blown cultural planning process. It assembled an impressive group of funders to help move the project forward including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kresge Foundation, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Benwood Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.
The vision for the plan would be to provide a blueprint for the future of the arts community in the Chattanooga/Hamilton County region. The primary goal of the plan was to serve as an action plan that answers "What can creativity, arts, and culture do for our community?" How can the arts become a partner to address and impact community issues such as education, job creation, neighborhood revitalization, crime prevention, and environmental sustainability?
The process took nine months and it was guided by a steering committee composed of 50 community leaders, government officials, business leaders, nonprofit CEOs, foundation directors, and artists with the Chattanooga Mayor and Hamilton County Mayor serving as honorary co-chairs. Allied Arts served as the convener. The process focused on three core areas:
- Explore the strategic placement of the arts to address community issues such as education, jobs, crime, and environment;
- Increase efficiency and productivity of the arts organizations; and
- Expand benefits of the arts to all areas of the community.
The plan was unveiled at a community wide press conference on January 31, 2012.
"Imagine Chattanooga 20/20 engaged the community to see arts and culture as an effective tool to strengthen Chattanooga," says Ruth Holmberg, publisher emeritus of The Chattanooga Times and co-chair with Unum vice president Tom White of the Imagine Chattanooga 20/20 steering committee. "The effort reached out to a diverse group of community members and focused around our unified belief in the importance of the arts and culture to enhance our quality of life." Through the process more than 400 individuals provided input at more than 70 individual and community meetings.
The plan's Steering Committee officially recommended Allied Arts as the oversight agency for coordinating and implementing the plan. During the next six months, Allied Arts will convene working groups for the various initiatives recommended in the plan. In June Allied Arts will report on progress of the plan. Finally, Allied Arts will seek a designated seat on the local Regional Growth Plan steering committee and advocate for a working group on arts and culture. It will continue to identify other important planning initiatives in which the cultural community should have a voice.
Allied Arts President and CEO Dan Bowers noted that consultants helped set the stage for the planning process. He stressed that the planning process was always about how the arts can address community priorities. If we do that, support will follow. It was never about what the community can do for the arts but what the arts can do for the community.
Choosing the right leaders for the steering committee was imperative. You need the highest profile individuals representing as many diverse organizations as possible. Having active and engaged co-chairs to keep the committee energized and moving forward was a plus.
|Organization Contact:||Dan Bowers|