Our intrepid culture warrior, Christina Newton (think First Fridays), has released her own version of her just published Back Page editorial in Style Weekly. According to Christina, Mayor Jones’ expansive proposal for a 64 square block downtown arts district ignores the recommendations of the arts community, is poorly drawn and ultimately detrimental. Christina has worked with organizations as diverse as CenterStage and Gallery5, small business owners, galleries and neighborhood organizations. It would be foolish to ignore Christina’s standing and commitment to the downtown arts community. This looks to be the opening salvo in an important discussion on the future of downtown. Here’s a small part of what she has to say.
On the whole, the city’s proposal for creating arts and cultural districts is in opposition to the community’s interests and unusual because it separates the ordinance designating the district from the details of its management. The proposed ordinance before City Council only includes the boundaries, and the area selected encompasses almost the entirety of Downtown. This will be too large to adequately promote especially since there are no dedicated funds to market Downtown as the region’s growing cultural destination – a flaw that undermines the obvious intent of the ordinance. Additionally, the city has chosen a name that excludes venues off the Broad Street corridor, which is in contrast to what the Downtown community wants. Last, it lacks real incentives to entice businesses and organizations to move Downtown or assist those that call the area home.