By MELINDA J. OVERSTREET
Glasgow Daily Times
“If at first you don’t succeed, start a petition” is the approach the City of Glasgow is taking to getting an arts and cultural district established downtown.
The city had applied approximately 18 months ago for the certification program offered through the Kentucky Arts Council, but the effort did not get approved. The reason cited, said Mayor Rhonda Riherd Trautman, was that broad-based community support was not demonstrated with the application.
“This is one thing we’re trying to target,” she said, explaining why a petition was started that residents can sign to show their support for the idea.
More than 300 signatures have been collected so far through volunteers having an informational display set up and answering questions from patrons at recent Plaza Theatre events, said Jennifer Moonsong, director of the Plaza.
On Tuesday, the Plaza is hosting a two-hour drop-in event at which community members can stop by the Casablanca Room at the Plaza anytime between 6 and 8 p.m. and get more information and sign the petition if they so choose. Light snacks and beverages will be available, Moonsong said.
A sort of home base for the district has to be designated, she said, and the Plaza would serve in that capacity because it meets the requirements.
If the city’s application is approved by KAC, the city can choose a specific area to designate as the district.
“The benefits are that [KAC] will help you promote your town and they will make available to you grant money that you can apply for, that you otherwise could not …, that goes to the arts and humanities,” Moonsong said.
Trautman said she expects roughly the same boundaries that mark the city’s Renaissance District that was established more than a dozen years ago would be applied for this purpose. That district includes the Public Square and extends outward by a couple of blocks in each direction, she said.
“It’s a nice way for your community to be recognized and even promoted on state websites and that sort of thing,” the mayor said. “It’s expected to promote tourism.”
The Plaza and the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center would be the main anchors for the district, but having restaurants and shopping opportunities in the area contributes as well to drawing people to the downtown area, she said.
Trautman named Berea as an example of the cities that participate in the program.
“I think they all would say it’s been a positive impact on their communities,” she said.
Along with promoting the arts, local businesses, historical sites and local artists and artisans would be supported with this certification, Moonsong said.
She said she has found that a lot of local artists and artisans are selling their products online, and their neighbors may not even realize they have that particular talent; often this is because they haven’t marketed here, and perhaps that’s been because of a lack of appreciation or awareness in the past.
If more artists could start using local buildings, refurbishing them for business purposes, that would eventually increase local sales and commerce, raise property values in the area and beautify the downtown area.
In fact, having a butterfly as part of the logo for the Glasgow Arts & Cultural District is intended to symbolize rebirth and growth of arts in the community, she said.
Trautman and Moonsong both said they don’t believe there would be a lack of support once community members know about the project and its benefits, it’s just a matter of getting out the word better.
Trautman said she wanted to encourage anyone with an interest in supporting the application to drop by on the 18th and sign the petition.
A letter of intent to apply was due this month, she said, and that has already been submitted. The actual application is due April 1, Moonsong said, but she expects it.
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