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The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania The Borough of Lansdowne Pennsylvania

Arts Plan

Overview:
Lansdowne Borough is a community that has a history of supporting arts and artists in many creative fields. The reputation of Lansdowne has long been that it is a place where creative people congregate and create their own artistic opportunities. This is not only a perception held by the residents of Lansdowne, but well beyond our borders.

This is evidenced by the successful Fall Arts Festival, Spring Arts and Crafts Festival, the Celebration Theater, the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra, the Lansdowne Folk Club, The Lansdowne Sofa Cinema, The Beach House Concerts, weekly Artists showing at the Farmer’s Market, the upcoming Thursday Night music series, the opening of Cinema 16:9, and other grass-roots arts events that take place in the Borough. Also true is the unusually high number of professional artists that choose to make Lansdowne their home.

Each of the above adds artistic vitality to our small community, makes it a “special” place to live, creates an identity for the borough, and helps to draw regional crowds to Lansdowne on a regular basis.

This trend has not gone unnoticed by the Borough government, or the Lansdowne Economic Development Corporation, who believe that the arts are an excellent means toward catalyzing meaningful redevelopment and revitalization in our community.

While many communities have arts activities and programs, Lansdowne is unique, and shall continue to be unique, by purposefully making its arts offerings stand out from the crowd.

One way of achieving this is looking toward developing “world-class” arts projects that are unique to the region and capture attention,

To that end, this concept document outlines the potential for establishing Lansdowne as An “Arts Destination Community” and sets broad objectives around being an Arts Destination Community. It also makes recommendations on specific projects that can be implemented to support these objectives.

These projects are in no way intended to be an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point for tangible projects that are consistent with the objectives of an Arts Destination Community.


An “Arts Destination Community”:
What is An Arts Destination Community? It is a community that chooses to proclaim itself as a regional hub for the arts, and follows through on that proclamation. An Arts Destination Community serves the greater region with arts opportunities that are of a caliber and integrity that cannot be found elsewhere in the region.

In order to be An Arts Destination Community, it is imperative that Lansdowne set objectives that support this proclamation, and follow through on meeting those objectives.

Objectives include:

  • Develop public policy that considers arts initiatives a priority
  • Recognize the arts as a positive agent of social and economic change
  • Dedicate public funding toward the arts
  • Encourage private investment in the arts
  • Foster the growth of highly-regarded arts programs
  • Develop strategies for creating a sustainable work/live/show environment for artists
  • Create and maintain an active Arts Board to oversee the continued pursuit of the Arts Destination Community objectives

Proposed below is language that can be placed in a resolution proclaiming Lansdowne to be “An Arts Destination Community”.


Whereas Lansdowne Borough is a community that has a history of supporting arts and artists in many creative fields. The reputation of Lansdowne has long been that it is a place where creative people congregate and create their own artistic opportunities. This is not only a perception held by the residents of Lansdowne, but well beyond our borders.

Whereas the above is evidenced by the successful Fall Arts Festival, Spring Arts and Crafts Festival, the Celebration Theater, the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra, the Lansdowne Folk Club, The Lansdowne Sofa Cinema, The Beach House Concerts, weekly Artists showing at the Farmer’s Market, and other grass-roots arts events that take place in the Borough. Also true is the unusually high number of professional artists that choose to make Lansdowne their home.

Whereas each of the above adds artistic vitality to our small community, makes it a “special” place to live, creates an identity for the borough, and helps to draw regional crowds to Lansdowne on a regular basis.

Whereas the Borough government believes that the arts are an excellent means toward catalyzing meaningful redevelopment and revitalization in our community.

Therefore be it resolved that Lansdowne shall proclaim itself An Arts Destination Community and adopt the following objectives.

  • Develop public policy that considers arts initiatives a priority
  • Recognize the arts as a positive agent of social and economic change
  • Dedicate public funding toward the arts
  • Encourage private investment in the arts
  • Foster the growth of highly-regarded arts programs
  • Develop strategies for creating a sustainable work/live/show environment for artists
  • Create and maintain an active Arts Board to oversee the continued pursuit of the Arts Destination Community objectives


Establishment of an Arts Board
In order to accomplish the objectives of the Arts Destination Community, Lansdowne Borough must create an Arts Board who will oversee and administer the activities that support the objectives of the Arts Destination Community.

The Board shall consist of 5-7 people with professional careers the arts representing a diversity of disciplines such as visual art, dance, music, theater, art education, industrial art, etc. These individuals should share the vision of the Arts Destination Community and will aggressively pursue its objectives.

The Board shall have staggered 4-year terms. The ordinance creating the Arts Board shall list the objectives of the Arts Destination Community, and task the Board with creating, overseeing and administering projects consistent with the Arts Destination Community objectives.

The board shall be given a discretionary budget each year, and can coordinate with the borough on the development of capital projects. In addition, the board shall liaise with the library and recreation department on the development of a comprehensive strategy of arts education and recreation programs offered through the Borough.

Duties:

The duties of the arts board are as follows:

  • Keep in touch with the needs of artists in our region
  • Develop plans to enable Lansdowne to best serve artists in our region
  • Develop specific projects according to the above plans
  • Act as advisor to volunteers, interns, or residents who will assist in completing specific projects
  • Coordinate project planning and implementation with Borough staff and other appropriate parties
  • Translate the community’s arts needs and desires into specific projects

The following sections of this document outline potential specific projects that are consistent with the objectives of An Arts Destination Community and are projects that can be implemented by the Arts Board.

CONCEPT OUTLINE FOR ROLLOUT OF INTERN PROGRAMS

Overview:
College students are always looking for exciting intern possibilities. In fact, it is required at Moore College of Art, that Juniors complete a 10-week summer internship before their senior year. Moore is just one of many area colleges, including the University of the Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute, and art programs at Temple, Drexel, etc. Lansdowne is easily accessible to these students.

Interns can be a valuable resource in implementing projects determined by the Arts Board.

Benefits:

  • Forge relationships with Arts Education Institutions in our region
  • Expose emerging young artists to Lansdowne as a potential place to live and work
  • Provide an excellent educational opportunity to arts students to be actively involved in arts programming
  • Provide much needed “work force” to complete project tasks

Implementation:
At the outset, we can call on Megan Halsey to assist in making initial contact with Philadelphia area universities. Thereafter, it will be the responsibility of the Arts Board to write up specific intern opportunity job descriptions, promote them to students, interview candidates and make selections.

Additionally, as needs arise, we may call on other schools and students with expertise in other areas to assist with projects that may not have a strict arts focus.


CONCEPT OUTLINE FOR ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PROGRAM

Overview:
Lansdowne as An Arts Destination Community is looking to develop world-class arts projects. To that end, here we outline the potential for an Artist in Residence Program—international in scale—that offers the opportunity for professional artists from around the world to do a residency in our community, feed off of our creative energy, and participate in the pursuit of “art for arts sake.”

Rationale / Benefit to Lansdowne:
The reasons that an Artist in Residence program will be beneficial for Lansdowne Borough are several.

It will help to fulfill the mission of bringing highly regarded arts events to our community, and help solidify our standing as An “Arts Destination Community.” Again, it is important for Lansdowne to set itself apart from other communities, in order to really capitalize on the arts as an economic and social agent of change.

The shows and activities that are centered on the artists’ work will result in crowds who will then spend their dollars in Lansdowne, patronizing shops, restaurants, etc. What’s more is that by drawing people into these events, we have a captive audience to market the other cultural events that make us unique. This means, that we can build a clientele of repeat customers, and enable other arts organizations in the borough to benefit.

Beyond the economic benefit, is the benefit of a sense of “vitality.” People are attracted to communities that seem to be “on the move.” An artist in residence program is one more step forward in establishing ourselves as a vital Arts Destination Community.

Finally, an Artist in Residence program helps to build bridges to the greater arts community burgeoning in our region. Artists need a place to live, work and show, and Lansdowne is ready and willing to be that place. One way we can demonstrate this is by implementing an Artist in Residence program, which sends a clear message about our community’s priorities in supporting the arts.

Potential Results of an Artist in Residence Program:
An Artist in Residence Program can deliver the cache of bringing an international professional artist into our border to do his or her work, but can also yield significant pieces of public art to be enjoyed for years. It can also, in time, create a rich archive and history of exhibits.

Any given residency would culminate in a significant show of work. This may be accomplished indoors or outdoors, as individual art pieces, or as an installation of multimedia elements. Whatever the case, the art works shall be a centerpiece of our downtown.

Additionally, archives from the artist’s shows can be put on display in our community buildings.

Finally, the Artist in Residence program can offer a unique opportunity for our residents to become involved in participating in projects. Any show of significant size will need volunteer help to assemble and display works. This provides an opportunity to transfer the mission of the program directly to our residents.

Considerations for an artist-in-residence program:

  • Look for available grants to offset costs, such as travel reimbursement grants, etc.
  • Would require establishment of dedicated residential and work space
  • May require borough to set aside endowment each year to offset some costs

CONCEPT OUTLINE FOR RECRUITMENT OF ARTS-BASED EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION

Overview:
A long-term project may include an Arts-based Educational Institution. Such institutions can exist in many forms, such as schools for children, young adults, adults, professionals, amateurs, and can be intended for the community, or can be a credentialed institution.

Establishment of an Arts-based Educational Institution brings with it activities and exhibitions that are inherent to an institution of its kind, and also attracts people who are either involved in teaching or learning arts.

The effects of an Arts-based Educational Institution can be felt in many ways, including the way it serves the community, the people it draws to the community, the teachers it employs in our community, and the establishment of an identity for our borough.


CONCEPT OUTLINE FOR RULES REQUIRING DEVELOPMENT PROJECT ALLOWANCE FOR ARTS PROJECTS

Overview:
Philadelphia has a long successful 1% for art rule that requires development projects to dedicate 1% of their funding to public art. Lansdowne can develop a similar type of program, or come up with another unique inducement to commercial developers to participate with our community in promoting the arts in the Borough.

This program would help to further the Arts Destination Community objectives, and invest developers in our community in the Lansdowne Arts scene.


CONCEPT OUTLINE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF COMMUNITY BLACK BOX THEATER AND REHEARSAL FLEX SPACE

Overview:
Essential to any comprehensive arts strategy is having a place where artists can practice their craft. Therefore Lansdowne should look to establish a black box theater space co-op that is owned by the artists and the Borough collectively, and makes the space available for the above stated purpose.

Lansdowne has a multi-purpose space in the 20th Century Club, and there are spaces such as church halls, etc, that can be used for workshops, practice, and performances of theatrical works. That said, none of these spaces are primarily used to support artists and their activities. These spaces can never offer what a dedicated black box flex space can provide, which is a turnkey space that is a neutral room with infrastructure such as an overhead grid, bleacher seating, floating floors, integrated sound system, stage lighting, dressing/storage accommodations, etc.

This idea, should of course, be considered along with the planning that is taking place at the Lansdowne Theater. The Historic Lansdowne Theater Corporation (HLTC) has a similar objective to develop this type of space, and their plans should be considered when establishing this space.

Rationale / Benefit to Lansdowne:
A black box theater, placed centrally in our downtown, can act as a hub of arts activities, and can be a space dedicated specifically to the needs of performing artists.

Consistent activity in the space, including performances, staged readings, concerts, recitals, workshops, etc adds vitality to our community, and bring feet on the street into the downtown.

What’s more is that it is another step in demonstrating to the surrounding area that the arts are a priority, and that Lansdowne is dedicated to truly
Meeting artists’ needs by developing first-class accommodations

Implementation Strategy:
Work through Borough RDA and LEDC to develop concept and identify appropriate real estate.

Work with contractor/developer and Arts Board to design space needs and complete development

Fund-raise among grant-givers and private individuals to bring about funding needed.

Liaise with HLTC around project planning.


INVENTORY AND MARKETING OF REHEARSAL SPACE TO THEATER COMMUNITY

Overview:
In our Working Artists’ Forum in 2008, it was made clear by several who work in theater, that good rehearsal space is needed, and that Lansdowne is a viable location to service Philadelphia-based artists in need of rehearsal space.

That said, artists are looking for specific things in their rehearsal space.

  • Appropriate square footage
  • Room to store some props, sets, etc.
  • Cleanliness
  • Affordability

We also know that there are spaces in the Borough that are currently available to fulfill this need. Pastor Anderson from the Lutheran Church, and Pastor Braneky from the Baptist Church have both stated that accommodating rehearsals would be great activities for their church spaces. The Borough will have some space come online with the 20 Lansdowne Ct project and 20th Century Club; the Historic Lansdowne Theater has the possibility of rehearsal space as part of their business plan.

To that end, a relatively simple project would be to inventory these locations, perhaps develop a small web-presence about the sites, and then market them to the greater Philadelphia area. Such promotion would include a target audience of theater troupes, music schools, and other performing arts groups, and would include making the case for easy rail access, numerous affordable spaces, and most of all, a desire to have artists in our community practicing their craft.

Rationale / Benefits:
The rationale for this project is to pick some low-hanging fruit, start to bring artists to Lansdowne to add vitality to the community, fill underused church spaces, and to help put Lansdowne on the map with performing artists.

The benefits of this project will be to continue the momentum of making Lansdowne an artist-friendly community.


INVENTORY AND MARKETING OF GALLERY SPACE

Overview:
The Arts Board can work with LEDC in inventorying and marketing Gallery Space. Similar to the project above, it will be important to identify the unique needs of an appropriate gallery space, and to implement targeted marketing.


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