Lafayette-West Lafayette Cultural Plan programs taking shape under TAF leadership

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Cultural Plan for Lafayette/West Lafayette, led by the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, is already listing several successes early in its implementation process.

Papier-mâché art piece 'I Can Has Chainburger?' by Emily Cox, a 17-year-old senior at Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Papier-mâché art piece 'I Can Has Chainburger?' by Emily Cox, a 17-year-old senior at Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Indiana.

TAF officially assumed leadership of implementing the Plan on July 1 of this year, and early accomplishments include:

  • The formation of a formal Arts Facility Needs Assessment Committee to oversee an assessment of the community’s cultural venues. The North Central Health Services’ foundation arm has awarded funding toward this study with additional funds from the Barnabas Foundation. A consulting team of will conduct the Facility Needs Assessment, which is scheduled to be completed by January of 2010.
  • The communities of Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County have officially expressed their commitment and support for the implementation of the Cultural Plan.
  • TAF launched ASAP, After School Arts Program, in August to create more arts activities for youth, teens and young adults as well as make a meaningful difference in the lives of youth in our community.
  • A Cultural Asset Map, designed to provide an inventory of the community’s arts and cultural resources, will be completed in the coming months thanks to a partnership with the Purdue Center for Regional Development.

“Working for tomorrow starts today,” said Tetia Lee, executive director of the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, who is leading implementation of the Cultural Plan for Lafayette/West Lafayette. “The plan, drawn from input from more than 200 local residents and community leaders, is beginning to take shape as a roadmap for action for the next 10 to 15 years and reflects a vision for arts and cultural development in the community.”

The four primary goals and related strategies outlined in the 50-page cultural plan call for:

  • Integrating arts and culture more fully into Lafayette and West Lafayette approaches to community economic development.
  • Engaging children, teens and young adults more fully in the cultural life of the Lafayette/West Lafayette community.
  • Building a broader and deeper countywide audience for arts and culture of all kinds.
  • Strengthening the leadership and resources in support of arts and culture.

“This planning process has been inclusive and the strength of that inclusion has grown as the process moved forward,” the WolfBrown report states in its conclusion. “Planning is not an easy process; it requires attention to various viewpoints and overlapping perspectives. It often puts existing systems and structures into the spotlight and that can be uncomfortable. But the willingness to experience this discomfort is the price of developing a road map that has the engagement and input of a broad section of the community.”

During 2008, WolfBrown associate principal consultant Marc Goldring led three formal public presentations — in June, October and December. WolfBrown conducted surveys, hosted community wide meetings, examined funding options, and determined how the local arts venues, programs and events compare with communities similar in size to Lafayette-West Lafayette.

WolfBrown collaborated with the Tippecanoe Cultural Planning Steering Committee, working with broad-based support from TAF and local arts and cultural groups.

The committee was led by community leaders Jim Bodenmiller and Sonya Margerum, and included a diverse group of 40 people from the arts, entertainment, culture, tourism, education, business and industry, government and other groups.

The committee used $75,000 generated with support from the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, arts and cultural organizations and the Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette to hire Massachusetts-based WolfBrown to launch the formal arts assessment process.

Many of Greater Lafayette’s cultural organizations also provided support for the year-long effort including Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, Art Museum of Greater Lafayette Foundation, Bach Chorale Singers, Historic Prophetstown, Lafayette Citizens Band, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, Long Center for the Performing Arts, Purdue Bands, Purdue Convocation, Friends of Downtown, Round the Fountain Art Fair Committee, Tippecanoe County Historical Association, and Wabash Valley Trust for Historic Preservation.

Building on nearly 500 cultural events held in Lafayette-West Lafayette, the local arts community contributes more than $11 million each year to the economy, drawing visitors from throughout the region to performances and events as well as restaurants and retail outlets. In addition, nearly 1,000 people are employed by the estimated 165 arts-related organizations and businesses in Lafayette-West Lafayette.

The Tippecanoe Arts Federation, which was launched in 1976, is the nonprofit service and advocacy agency for more than 100 local member arts organizations. TAF also is the re-granting agency for state funds to a 14-county area (Region IV) through the Regional Partnership Initiative of the Indiana Arts Commission and regularly hosts, co-sponsors and participates in community events including its annual fundraiser, The Taste of Tippecanoe, a festival of food and fun for the arts held in downtown Lafayette.

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 July 2020