City officials are seeking insights into residents’ creative lives as they draft a master plan for the arts. They want to know how residents participate in the arts now and what future opportunities they would like.
It’s information that will help develop a 10-year plan for how the city can best support the arts, a goal that includes increased participation in the arts, encouraging artists and arts organizations, and increasing the economic benefits of the arts.
Jerry Bolas, director of the Office of Raleigh Arts, said that participating in the arts if you weren’t a professional painter or musician used to be defined as buying a ticket to a play or spending the afternoon in a museum.
Now planners take a broader view, one that includes the art experiences residents have outside a concert hall or gallery, he said.
Sing in a church choir? Have a craft room? Watch movies on your phone? The city wants to know about it.
City staffers plan to complete a draft plan this summer, then invite public comment before sending it on to the city council this fall. As part of the process, they’re seeking comments online, in surveys and at community meetings through the month of March.
“I think the city of Raleigh has found itself in an enviable position,” Bolas said. “There’s positive growth that brings with it different ideas.”
The meetings include informal gatherings, which residents can sign up to host, as well as more structured public meetings.
Bolas said the information will also help inform two key aspects of the plan: how to adapt to changing demographics, especially how young people experience the city, and how to expand the art scene beyond downtown.
Sarah Powers, executive director of Visual Art Exchange and a member of the volunteer master plan steering committee, said the “community conversations” have already yielded new ideas she is excited about. Participants have talked about how they would like to see more workshop spaces where people can learn skills or video game production opportunities.
They’ve also discussed ideas such as showing people how to book bands for local festivals so neighborhoods can celebrate with music that represents them. “We want to hear from everyone,” Powers said. “You never know what’s going to stick.”