May 14, 1995 in Features

The Arts Need Your Vision

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Four men and five women gathered at Hamblen Elementary last Tuesday night to chart the future of Spokane’s cultural life.

These weren’t your stereotypical purveyors of taste - museum curators, media critics and philanthropists. Rather, they were ordinary residents - a schoolteacher, a sculptor and a selfdescribed “house husband.”

Their observations and predictions were carefully recorded by Spokane Arts Commission volunteers as part of a six-month planning process underwritten by an $11,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant.

Early next fall, the commission will issue a report identifying cultural goals local citizens want the city to pursue during the next decade.

It’s not too late to influence that collective vision. The commission is sponsoring 10 more public forums between now and June 8. Half will focus on particular artistic disciplines - theater, dance and literature, for instance - while the rest solicit comments from various neighborhoods.

So far, attendance has been lower than expected, says city arts director Sue Ellen Heflin. Most meetings have attracted 10 to 20 people, “and we’ve had as few as four.”

Even so, she expects 400 to 600 residents will have contributed to the final report. Suggestions already voiced include a sculpture walk and public market along the river in northeast Spokane’s Logan Neighborhood, more hands-on art programs for youngsters during summer months, and a box on property-tax bills where residents can automatically contribute to the arts.

One month into the project, Heflin says she’s most surprised by participants’ shared sense of optimism about the arts’ ability to build a sense of community.

“People in Spokane are starting to identify with their neighborhoods,” Heflin says, “and they believe the arts can help encourage that trend through neighborhood festivals, exhibits and performing troupes.”

She describes the forums as a rare opportunity for citizens to spend two hours “and have a fairly significant impact” in shaping the community’s future.

Along with suggestions, the forums have generated criticism aimed at municipal policies, corporate funding and media coverage of the arts.

“Some people think Spokane is the victim of a conspiracy,” Heflin cautions. “But it seems to me we’re facing the same challenges that every other community faces.”

The forums, she says, are intended to identify those challenges … and maybe yield some solutions.

ILLUSTRATION: Drawing

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Get Involved in the planning process The Spokane Arts Commission’s public forums continue for another four weeks. If you want to suggest cultural goals the commission should pursue during the next decade, attend one of the following meetings:

Neighborhood forums: May 16, 7 p.m., Woman’s Club of Spokane, 1428 W. Ninth. May 17, 7 p.m., Shadle Park High School cafeteria, 4327 N. Ash. May 31, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral Education Center, 15 N. Madison. June 7, 7 p.m., Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute Fireside Room, 4000 W. Randolph.

Forums devoted to themes: Visual arts: May 18, 7 p.m., City Hall’s Chase Gallery, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. Dance: May 20, 2 p.m., Metropolitan School of Ballet, second floor, 820 W. Sprague. Ethnic and folk art: May 24, 6 p.m., American Indian Community Center, 905 E. Third. Theater arts: June 3, 11 a.m., Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard. Literary arts: June 8, 7 p.m., Auntie’s Bookstore, second floor, 420 W. Main. For more information, contact the Spokane Arts Commission at 625-6050.

This sidebar appeared with the story: Get Involved in the planning process The Spokane Arts Commission’s public forums continue for another four weeks. If you want to suggest cultural goals the commission should pursue during the next decade, attend one of the following meetings:

Neighborhood forums: May 16, 7 p.m., Woman’s Club of Spokane, 1428 W. Ninth. May 17, 7 p.m., Shadle Park High School cafeteria, 4327 N. Ash. May 31, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral Education Center, 15 N. Madison. June 7, 7 p.m., Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute Fireside Room, 4000 W. Randolph.

Forums devoted to themes: Visual arts: May 18, 7 p.m., City Hall’s Chase Gallery, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. Dance: May 20, 2 p.m., Metropolitan School of Ballet, second floor, 820 W. Sprague. Ethnic and folk art: May 24, 6 p.m., American Indian Community Center, 905 E. Third. Theater arts: June 3, 11 a.m., Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard. Literary arts: June 8, 7 p.m., Auntie’s Bookstore, second floor, 420 W. Main. For more information, contact the Spokane Arts Commission at 625-6050.

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