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What’s The Plan For Fort Worth Culture?

by Jerome Weeks 20 Jun 2014 3:18 PM

The current city arts plan is 12 years old, and a number of its goals have been met – like establishing a percent-for-arts ordinance. So Fort Worth has set out to find new some ones.


arts planning1Matt Lehrman, grey shirt and tie, leads a community meeting brainstorming Fort Worth’s new culture plan. Photo credit: Jerome Weeks

Fort Worth’s often called a city of ‘cowboys and culture.’ But what’s ahead for that culture? Fort Worth last issued a strategic arts plan in 2002. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that plan was successful enough, the city’s set out to devise a new one. They need some new goals.

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Some twenty people are sharing ideas and sticking up post-it notes on flip charts in the art gallery of Artes de La Rosa. That’s the Latino arts venue on Fort Worth’s Northside, and this Thursday night meeting is the first of eight community gatherings the city’s Arts Council is holding. They’re designed to get public input on what the city should do next – now that a number of items on its wish list from 12 years ago have been checked off.

Jody Ulich is president of the Arts Council of Fort Worth. She says, “We had some successes. The public art program was established, the Fort Worth Community Arts Center was established. But during the discussion about the funding model for the Arts Council, it was suggested by the mayor and city council that we should re-visit the 2002 plan.”

Tonight is a classic brainstorming session designed to generate some thinking outloud. Matt Lehrman is an audience-development specialist from Audience Avenue hired to lead the meetings. He’s encouraged everyone to think big. And not judge or reject any notion.

So the ideas vary widely. More parks and bike paths along the Trinity River, more mass transit, better arts education from grade school to graduate programs. Other suggestions involve artists directly – like affordable live-work spaces.

Arturo Martinez is a graphics designer. He says he came to listen but there’s one issue he’s passionate about: “I really wanted to raise awareness about diversity and multi-culturalism, and not so much dividing us but bringing us a centralized area where we can all come together.”

The participants this evening seem pleased with the meeting, but when all ideas are welcome, there’s not much friction. There’s not been much debate, for instance, about what’s practical, what’s not. That hard work lies ahead, after these eight community meetings are held (the first round of four concludes this weekend, the next round of four comes in July). There are interviews with Mayor Betsy Price, area CEOs and arts leaders. Then there’s the executive committee meetings and the steering committee meetings.

But the hope is to present the new plan to the city council in December.