The Clark County Arts and Culture Summit was held on March 3, 2012 at the newly renovated and restored Artillery Building at Fort Vancouver. A capacity of 120 people joined in this full day of networking, conversation, panels, listening and sharing their ideas for the future of our arts community. Our facilitator was Anne Stadler, whose guidance ensured that everyone was fully engaged in the day.
The summit opened with a welcome from Vancouver mayor Tim Leavitt. He talked about how arts and culture are essential to a dynamic and prosperous community and described the need for public-private partnerships to support the arts and to encourage their integration in the fiber of our city.
Anne Stadler introduced us to WorldCafé™ conversation method, as she asked everyone to get into small groups of 3 to 4 and spend 20 minutes getting to know each other and sharing ideas of what brought them to the summit, what was important to get out of the day’s exchange of ideas and where we should go. The conversation was lively and energizing.
Midmorning panel discussions began with “Cities Connecting with Arts” and was moderated by Eloise Damrosch, executive director of the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) with panelists Mayor Denny Dole of Beaverton, Mayor Jack Hoffman of Lake Oswego and former Mayor Liz Cerveny of La Center. They each shared how their cities have incorporated the arts into their communities and how the arts has become an important part of what is expected as a public good. Each Mayor shared how their city found a way to incorporate arts into the design and activity of the city and how their city supported the arts through 1% for Art, arts festivals and events, art centers and infrastructure that places art throughout the community.
Three concurring panels discussed arts education, business partnerships and opportunities for arts. Each panelist came to the discussion with their own story and addressed their particular opportunities and. challenges. The one comment most heard among summit attendees was how they wished they could have heard all the panels. The panels left plenty of time for questions and lively discussions between the attendees and panelists and with one another.
Lunch followed the panel discussions and enabled more time for continuing the discussion and networking. Midway through lunch Anne Stadler asked everyone to use paper and markers to doodle an idea, wish, desire and/or concept of what they wanted to happen in our arts community. The doodles were then spread out on tables and everyone was asked to wander through and read the shared ideas. The doodles were later collected and became the basis for a follow-up meeting.
In the afternoon we were introduced to the “marketplace” of ideas where anyone could propose a topic for two breakout sessions. These topics were posted on the wall and people could self-select which session they would like to join. The breakout sessions addressed the many ideas for change that have been a constant in our communities. The discussions went from creating a county-wide open studios event to building a performing arts center to the renovation of the Fort Vancouver Post Hospital and to funding public art that is accessible to all. These discussions were rich in practical ideas to move forward.
A tour of the Fort Vancouver Post Hospital also was available for those attendees who had not yet seen the building. Cara Cantonwine guided the group through the massive building explaining its history as well as the possibilities for such a wonderful space. Planning for the hospital has just started and a public symposium is planned for mid May, 2012, followed by several open house discussions on how the building will be renovated and for what uses.
In our final gathering of the day, Anne asked everyone to come up with a saying defining our day in just a few words. A few were read aloud. Some were funny, others heartfelt but all embraced the ideas we shared through the day.
We ended with passing around the microphone to share thoughts and plans of where we want to go from here—ideas that can lead to a thriving arts community throughout our county. Now we need to make it happen. We identified the desire for significant change and a coming together to make it happen.
The day ended with a social time with more networking, ideas and just good conversation over wine and snacks.