Muncie looks to learn after being rejected as Cultural District

Muncie may have lost its bid to have areas of the city certified by the state as a Cultural District, but the Muncie community has not lost its hope for next year.

"We are blessed a community as a whole," Cheryl Crowder, director of events for Downtown Development, said. "We have some real treasures here. The Ball State Museum of Art is a great place. When you look at the number of galleries you can see when you visit, it shows we are well on our way to have the fabric as a cultural community."

Muncie applied for the new program through the Indiana Arts Commission in Fall 2009, along with six other communities. The commission certified Bloomington, Carmel and Lafayette/West Lafayette, while passing on Muncie, Vincennes, Wabash and Noblesville.

While the program offers no financial help, it does offer a new way for communities to promote and market the area as a cultural destination.

Crowder said the Muncie community knows it needs to make changes and try new things.
"Now we can go above and beyond," she said. "This can be something the community can be proud of."

To receive the title of a Cultural District by the IAC, Muncie needs to provide a long-term cultural development plan and create strong, lasting relationships with businesses in the community.

The commission said Muncie was on the right track in the review process, with assets such as the Cardinal Greenway. But the community has only goals of moving toward sustainability, something the commission would like to see already in place.

Rex Van Zant, director of marketing and communications for IAC, said the commission encourages communities like Muncie who were not accepted in the first application process to reapply.

He said the IAC likes to see all varieties of cities applying for the Cultural District title as long as they can put together a program to meet the guidelines.

The proposed Cultural District would include Ball State University, Minnetrista, downtown and Heekin Park.

"We want to make sure that, for the state of Indiana, we are being as fair as possible," one IAC commissioner said in an audio recording of the decision-making process. "People are going to visit these districts, you don't want them to get there and say ‘What was the point?'"

Links:
http://www.in.gov/arts/culturaldistricts.htm
Statewide Cultural District Guidelines PDF 


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