Public forum continues arts-cultural assessment effort

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Tippecanoe Cultural Planning Steering Committee will seek input from the community in a public forum at 7 p.m. Monday (Dec. 8), as an important next step for assessing the contributions as well as short- and long-term needs for Lafayette-West Lafayette’s arts and cultural community.

Marc Goldring, associate principal of Massachusetts consulting firm WolfBrown, will moderate the forum, which will take place at the Tippecanoe Arts Federation building, 638 North St., in downtown Lafayette. Leading members of the Cultural Planning Steering Committee, which is working with broad-based support from TAF and local arts and cultural groups, also will be on hand.

The format will be similar to the public forums, held in June and October to full houses at TAF’s offices. WolfBrown officials will unveil the final report in mid-January.

“During this third public forum, the community will begin to see the picture being painted of the arts and local culture in Lafayette-West Lafayette,” said Sonya Margerum, co-chairman of the Tippecanoe Cultural Planning Steering Committee. “The discussion from the first two sessions was lively and instructive. We invite more from throughout the community to come forward to help us continue setting short- and long-term priorities for the types of events, types of facilities, and types of education and outreach programs we would place on a wish-list for the arts/cultural community.”

The committee, led by Jim Bodenmiller and Margerum, is using $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 WolfBrown and launch the formal arts assessment process. Tetia Lee, director of TAF, also has provided support for the seven-month assessment process.

The Cultural Planning Steering Committee has met for several months with support from TAF, representatives of the arts and cultural organizations, the Lafayette-West Lafayette Development Corp., local government and other groups to chart what steps are needed to engage a consultant to help develop a plan to ensure local arts/cultural organizations are healthy, vibrant and sustainable for the future.

WolfBrown has led, conducted surveys, hosted communitywide meetings, examined funding options, and determined how the local arts venues, programs and events compare with communities similar in size to Lafayette-West Lafayette, Bodenmiller said.

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.

With offices in Cambridge, Mass., San Francisco and Washington, D.C., WolfBrown has worked in the field of arts education and cultural planning for decades. Clients have included national service organizations, local coordinating agencies and individual arts education providers. Services include comprehensive research (including parent and student surveys), program design and the development of community wide systems for service provision involving scores of organizations and agencies.

The Tippecanoe Arts Federation, which was launched in 1976, is the nonprofit service and advocacy agency for more than 100 local member arts organizations.

Working from its offices in the Wells Center in downtown Lafayette, 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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