Representing the “arts”: City of Decorah and Comprehensive Plan Sarah Frydenlund, of the Driftless Art Collective Board of Directors met with Chad Bird, Decorah City Manager to discuss the language dedicated to the “arts” in the Decorah Comprehensive City Plan of 2012 and how Driftless Art Collective could encourage participation of creative professionals for future city planning in Decorah.

The Plan reads: “Arts Decorah is well-known as a regional center for the arts and for artists. As the home of many professional artists, Decorah is well represented in an annual Northeast Iowa Studio Tour. In addition to the many performing arts and music performances offered by Luther College, there are also several other local stage productions and music on offer for the public to enjoy.” pg 71, City of Decorah Comprehensive Plan 2012.

Frydenlund suggested that the arts community has that offer more than is indicated and that it is a part of the mission of Driftless Art Collective (Dartco) to participate in the education and awareness of and for the creative community. She made it known that Dartco is interested in recommending or providing individuals for future boards, committees, or commissions like that which served the Plan, in an attempt to provide a greater opportunity to this important economic and cultural community to be better representative in order to be integrated into future planning and considerations for development and investment. It was suggested by Manager Bird that a letter was written to the Chair of the Zoning and Planning Commission, as the lead Commission on the Plan, presenting information as a “concept status update” to the current Plan. It is the city’s hope that the Plan is considered a “living” document, and to make updates rather than rewrites regularly, and this update could be considered in the next update.

With this information, Dartco will be hosting a drop in conversation, Wed 15 Oct, 12 – 1 pm, (in a soon to be determined downtown location). Access will also be available online through our website and over social media. The conversation is open anyone (members and otherwise) who wish to make suggestions to this “concept status update” suggestion submission. Also encouraged in this discussion is feedback on the potential creation of a Public Art Commission or Arts and Culture Commission, including the pros/cons of creating a city supported Commission for arts and culture, or remaining an independent Public Arts/Council for the Creative Arts through Dartco. These conversations will continue through Dartco’s Creative Community conversations. A symposium is currently in planning stages for January 2015, lead by creative professionals serving as arts and cultural leaders in the Decorah area and surrounding region.

Community Exhibition Opportunities at Decorah Municipal Building Also at this meeting, Dartco expressed interest in adding the Decorah Municipal Building their list of Community Exhibitions spaces, and this suggestion was positively received. Dartco will prepare information to begin a serious conversation on this collaboration as soon as possible. Due to the conditions of the space, the collaboration will require an investment form Dartco, the facility or a sponsor in order to create a viable, sustainable Community Exhibition Space with City Hall. This is in line with recent pledges to contribute to existing Community Exhibitions host spaces (including Decorah Public Library and Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce) in conjunction with the development of a Community Exhibitions Coordinator (applications currently being accepted).