Kaitlin Gerby, Chronicle-Tribune
The LaFontaine Arts Council has devised a plan to bring an arts district to downtown Huntington.
During their last City Council meeting, arts council members presented their plan to establish artist spaces and galleries to provide a place to call home for local artists and those foreign to the county alike.
The plan uses the acronym LOVE to highlight the four areas of interest for improving downtown. The arts council is focusing on livability, opportunity, vitality and education. They decided on these four areas through brainstorming sessions with community members that began in March. After collecting data from the conversations, they spent the summer creating their strategic plan to take on downtown and uplift the local community with art.
Arts Council board member Sam Garcia explained their idea of collaborating with current businesses to create a studio for painters, sculptors and the like, as well as utilizing space available in the new community art center that will be available in the remodeled United Brethren building.
Garcia further explained that the comprehensive plan will further efforts in beautification, building entrepreneurial opportunities for artists, locating the history and natural beauty in local neighborhoods and fostering education for K-12 students and adults.
Katy Strass, Indiana University fine arts graduate and Huntington native, said her heart pounded at the idea that the place she grew up in would be investing in creative spaces for artists.
“Art has always been a huge part of my life and I find myself grasping at opportunities to be involved and encourage others to participate and express themselves,” she said. “My heart raced at the idea of a lively arts community right here in my city.”
Adam Drummond, director of professional learning for the arts council, said bringing art into the downtown community strengthens quality of life and inspires people.
“The goal through this community arts plan is to make Huntington City a destination in northeast Indiana for the arts, encouraging people to come here and make this place home,” he said.
The UB building is expected to be finished in 2019, but there has been no official confirmation on what businesses will occupy the first floor. Drummond and others at the council meeting indicated that downtown has a healthy variety of businesses and event spaces to host artists and potential classes for visiting instructors, saying that “collaboration is the key” to success in the project.