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Rogers adopts cultural plan for developing arts

by Janelle Jessen | March 9, 2022 at 7:01 a.m.
Rogers City Hall, April 11, 2016

ROGERS -- City Council members on Tuesday voted unanimously to adopt a city cultural plan to serve as a road map for developing public art, wellness and culinary arts, and music and performing arts.

The plan is the first of its kind in Northwest Arkansas, according to Mayor Greg Hines. It was developed by city staff along with WXY Architecture and Urban Design, and Creative Arkansas Community Hub and Exchange, said Anna Watson, arts and culture coordinator.

Rogers is changing and growing, and planners wanted to respect the community and culture of the past while reacting to future opportunities, Watson said.

"This is a living, breathing document, not static," she said.

The guiding objectives of the 68-page plan are strengthening community and celebrating Rogers' unique character, promoting economic vitality and quality of life, and shaping an inspiring built environment, Watson said. The objectives will not change and will shape all goals in the plan, she said.

Cultural drivers in the city are public art, wellness and culinary art, music and performing arts, Watson said. The plan breaks down immediate, short-, medium- and long-term goals for each area, she said. The strategies for achieving the goals include public policy, building partnerships, programming and capital projects.

City staff began talking about the cultural plan in April 2020 and have worked to engage the public, stakeholders and community groups in its development through surveys, focus groups and research, Watson said.

The city has already implemented several cultural pilot programs, including the murals on the water towers at the Railyard Park downtown and the Railyard Live outdoor concert series last summer, Watson said.

"We are excited to be trying new things," she said, adding the plan is focused on an ongoing dialogue between arts and culture staff and the community.

The plan doesn't request funding, Watson said. Funding requests for 2022 were included in the annual budget and any future requests will be made through the budgeting process, she said.

The City Council approved $270,000 for arts and culture programming and $40,000 for arts and culture professional services in the 2022 budget, according to finance director Casey Wilhelm.

Council member Mandy Brashear said she was very impressed with the diligence the planning team went through to get community input from residents and leverage other studies to create a comprehensive plan. The city needs to spend time working through the plan's governance and management, she said.

"It's very exciting to have a vision we are working toward," she said.

The plan includes a lot of innovative ideas from staff and consultants, Hines said. If a community is going to invest in arts and culture, it's important to have a road map, he said.

Cultural plan vision

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A thriving arts and culture ecosystem that is accessible to all, celebrates Rogers diversity, promotes economic vitality, and shapes an inspiring and connected built environment.

Source: Rogers cultural plan


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