Rockford Area Arts Council launches a cultural plan for the Forest City

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 5:25 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Area groups begin a major initiative that will, hopefully, put the Rockford region on the map of Arts and Cultural hotspots.

At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8, the Rockford Area Arts Council (RAAC) will host the first public meeting for the Rockford Region Cultural Plan at the Riverfront Museum Park in downtown Rockford.

“If you are looking for a photographer for your wedding, or you want to learn how to dance the tango, you can find those things in an art and culture directory so that’s a direct result from something like this,” Mary McNamara Bernsten, executive director of the RAAC, said.

The cultural plan is a first for the Rock River Valley―expected to link between the area’s most creative minds with the rest of the world.

“It’s a guide for us to use to create more access to arts and culture opportunities, it’s a way to create a public art strategy, it’s a way to do some asset and opportunity mapping,” McNamara Bernsten said. The plan will be funded by grants and donations.

Lord Cultural Resources, a consulting group based in New York City, will work with the RAAC and Rockford residents, to create the directory.

“It brings meaning to our lives arts and culture but it also has a tremendous amount of data around benefits in health, in education, in workforce development, in attracting employers,” said Eve Moros Ortega, director with Lord.

Plans like this already show success in cities like Charlotte and Dallas.

“How can we really support arts and cultural organizations and creatives and practitioners of arts and culture to really find their identities in their hometowns and their communities? And make sure that we keep creatives here as it really is such an important quality of life for all residents,” said Tiffany Lyons, a Lord consultant.

Lord has created plans like this for more than 460 cities in 57 countries around the globe.