In 2002, after careful study by a national consulting group, Fort Worth adopted a strategic plan focused exclusively on the city’s art and culture.
Twelve years later, much of what was proposed in the “2002 Cultural Plan” had been adopted, including transforming the old Modern Art Museum building into the Community Arts Center, creating a new grant program that supplements arts education, developing the Public Art Master Plan and forming the Neighborhood Arts Program, which has funded more than $3.3 million to arts groups since 2003.
Last year the city commissioned the same consultants, WolfBrown, to come up with a new comprehensive plan. The results were presented to the City Council this week and praised for their attention to detail and their visionary, yet practical, recommendations.
Robert Benda, co-chair of the steering committee overseeing the plan, told council members Tuesday that consultants had conducted 65 individual or group interviews (interacting with more than 500 people in process) and held public meetings in each council district.
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What resulted was an in-depth study that produced six overall goals, 28 specific initiatives and 80 action steps to keep Fort Worth moving aggressively — with a degree of caution — while focusing on the stated vision: “Arts and culture are central to the values, traditions, economic vitality and aspirations of our community.”
Among the goals are coordinating arts education resources to support kindergarten through college curricula; economic development/urban revitalization that suggests more investment in arts and cultural amenities and facilities; and funding for arts and culture, which could mean, among other things, creating a “cultural trust” or endowment to receive public and private funding.
The plan also calls for more diversity and inclusion in the arts.
The consultant’s study is just a starting point, which means there is a lot of work to be done, more research to be gathered and more consultation needed between elected officials, the arts community and local residents.
But the fact that Fort Worth leaders keep arts and culture in the forefront rather than on the back burner is a great sign.
Mayor Betsy Price called the new plan “an impressive body of work.”
It is indeed, which means it shouldn’t be put on a shelf and forgotten. It must be acted upon, like its predecessor was.