Crestwood board eyes establishment of arts task force

Task force would formulate a master plan for arts in city

By Kari Williams

A special task force will develop a master plan for a Crestwood arts commission, pending approval by the city’s Board of Aldermen.

Dan Tierney, deputy director of the Regional Arts Commission, gave a presentation to Crestwood’s Economic Development Commission last week and the commission voted unanimously to establish a committee. A resolution establishing the task force was set to be considered by the Board of Aldermen Tuesday — after the Call went to press.

Citing the success of Crestwood Court’s ArtSpace, Tierney told the Economic Development Commission March 6, “You’d have a vested interest in the arts in this community.”

ArtSpace tenants vacated their Crestwood Court spaces last month in preparation of the mall’s redevelopment.

Tierney said creating an arts committee will bring out a “different flair” in people who can help develop the arts in Crestwood.

“You’re actually going to touch into getting other, different community volunteers, maybe some business owners, maybe some professionals, local artists that you already have in the community, that will then participate and come out and help the community,” he said.

Creating a task force is the first step, according to Tierney, and allows the public to be brought in to the discussion.

“We want the community to be a part of everything,” he said. “In that process, as information is gathered, the task force can build that master plan,” Tierney said.

Nikki Koehnemann, assistant to City Administrator Petree Eastman, said the master plan would be an “overall guiding principle.”

“(The master plan) sets up all the policies to say, ‘what is art,’ ‘who will we accept it from,’ ‘for how long …,'” she said. “Once they come up with that master plan, (the task force) would take it to the Board of Aldermen, who would vote on two issues, adopt a master plan and establish an arts committee.”

The master plan should get everyone involved through talking to businesses and conducting open forums for community input, among other suggestions, according to Tierney.

Ward 4 Alderman Deborah Beezley said an arts commission could be a “tremendous opportunity” for the community and suggested the Route 66 Association could be involved with the project.

“We’re sitting on a small gold mine here with Route 66,” Beezley said.

Beezley also suggested the possibility of an art fair at Whitecliff Park, traditional period art at Sappington House and public sculptures.

Economic Development Commission member Dan Tennessen said he likes the idea of bringing more of the arts to Crestwood.

“There’s a lot of commercial artists and fine artists and professional artists in the area,” he said, “and so I suspect there will be some at least that will volunteer for this.”

However, Tennessen questioned how to keep a commission going without city dollars.

“Frankly, I think for the next three, four years Crestwood’s got its hands full,” he said.

Koehnemann said it could take one to three years for the task force to complete its task of developing a master plan.

“So, funding, by the time we actually get going, there might be a better outlook at that point,” she said.

Tierney said the RAC’s mission is to “foster and encourage the arts,” which is being done, in part, through contacting local municipalities.

“We have 90 municipalities out here, and I think that we can find some avenue if we got arts commissions into all of them, (and the next step) is to then work with them about developing programs in those communities and be a little more cohesive about it …”