Arts Center Update 11.23.2016

Planning and Zoning Manager, Mr. Jason Knudsen has provided Council with the most recent update on the Arts Center Feasibility Study.

The organizational analysis portion of the feasibility study is now complete.  Read more about the components of the study here.

The team is still working on the building analysis.  Both the City Fire Marshal and Building Inspector have inspected the school building. And the team arranged for a certified inspector to do an initial assessment for mold, asbestos, and lead–and they got him to do it for FREE.  They’ve really done some amazing work over the past few months–at no cost to the city. Next up: cost analysis.

Next meeting is Monday, November 28th at 6:30 PM, City Hall.

Read previous reports about the feasibility study here.

Here’s the report, which will (per decision of the Council) also be posted to the city’s website.

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Q&A: “What is Your Vision, Jenn?”

Earlier today I posted this on my Facebook page:

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Tonight, I received a response on that post that asked this: “What is your vision Jenn?”  As with my last response to a Facebook question, I have a little more to say than fits into a Facebook comment box, and I want everyone to have the opportunity to see my response, so I’m posting it here:

First and foremost, I envision the future of the school as a place that is truly for the people, by the people, and of the people. What do the people want? What will most benefit them? How can they make use of the space to improve their lives?

To this end, I think it’s great that Councilman Taylor Graham attended our concerned citizens meeting, recognizing that citizen input is key to determining the best possible usage of that building. I am happy that the city has some sort of plan for focus groups sometime in the future to get citizen feedback.

Regardless of what we decide to do with the elementary school, I firmly believe we need access to the arts for all of our citizens and a stronger commitment to community and cultural programs and services. It is my opinion that the school offers us a unique opportunity as a place that could help us fulfill such a commitment. It’s there. It’s empty. We own it. We need to do something with it. Why not this?

Imagine the school once again alive with the sound of children laughing, playing, learning. And imagine it weren’t just children.

Imagine adults—people of all ages—laughing in the auditorium seats or singing on its stage; drawing, painting, or sculpting in studio classrooms; or browsing halls lined with the work of local & regional artists. Imagine them learning more about Simpsonville’s history during programs like those presented by the Simpsonville Museum of Revolutionary War Museum. Imagine them attending a book reading by a local author.

These are just examples—the specifics of what could and would be offered there would be determined by the people. As I said originally, it would be something that is uniquely Simpsonville—something that encourages community pride for our citizens through arts and culture.

So imagine a place that would enrich all of our lives and our community through a variety of cultural activities, through exposure to the arts, through a shared sense of community. That’s my vision.

And it’s a vision that will yield multiple social and economic benefits to our city. It’s a vision we can accomplish if we’re all working together towards the same goal: one better Simpsonville for all.

Community and Cultural Programs Contribute to Economic Development

In my campaign launch speech, I shared a vision for Simpsonville–a vision that includes making economic development a top priority and committing to community and cultural programs and services.

On community and cultural programs and services, I called for a comprehensive plan that does 3 things:

  1. provides access to the arts for all citizens;artssimpsonville
  2. supports programs that educate, inform, and inspire through a variety of cultural activities;
  3. and contributes to the overall economic development of our city.

Let me share with you a story that illustrates one reason why this is important: Not long ago, I posted on Facebook about an upcoming event sponsored by the Simpsonville Revolutionary War Museum.  Immediately two non-Simpsonville residents responded: “There’s a history museum in Simpsonville? I had no idea! I’m going to have to come down there and check it out!” Community and cultural programs and services draw visitors to a city.  Once here, those visitors check out the rest of the city.  Imagine if there were enough community & cultural programs that people could spend a full day in Simpsonville–visiting the museum, learning about our local history, taking in a show (maybe a play performed on the stage of the old Simpsonville Elementary School).  Imagine they spend the day shopping, eating.  Imagine the revenue that could generate for the city, the positive impact it could have on our small, local businesses.

When we head out to Greenville, Mauldin, or Fountain Inn to take part in community or cultural programs and services, we’re giving them our tax dollars, we’re supporting their local economies.  Why wouldn’t we want to support our own?  And why wouldn’t we want to not just keep our dollars here but also draw in visitors who would spend their money here?  Visitors who would tell their friends: “Simpsonville is a great place to spend a day…or a weekend. You really need to check out what Simpsonville has to offer.”

Again I say, community development is economic development.  A commitment to cultural programs and services contributes to the overall economic development of a city.  It’s time to focus on that.