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Boreal Community Media

City council hears the Creative Economy Collaborative proposal

Jun 08, 2018 04:00PM ● By Editor
By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - June 8, 2018

Donated art can be a blessing, but where do you put it? How should it be displayed? Who will maintain it?

In the past, some Grand Marais city councils would struggle with those decisions, but help is on the way.

Members of the Creative Economy Collaborative (CEC) met with the Grand Marais city council on Wednesday, May 30 and requested the City of Grand Marais recognize CEC as “an official city advisory body with the mission of strengthening the role that the arts and arts economy play in our community.” 

This request was not made lightly. Two years ago CEC set forth a plan to develop the local arts and culture within the county and listed three major components: “To develop and market the identity and brand of Cook County as a regional, national and global arts and culture destination; To build and support public and private capacity and commitment to common goals to grow the arts and culture sector and; To inventory, identify, prioritize, fund and develop key physical building projects that expand the arts and culture sector.”

About 20 community members, which includes artists, business owners, city and county officials meet the second Tuesday of every month at 9 a.m. in the Grand Marais City Council Chambers to “build and support public and private capacity and commitment to growing the arts and culture sector our community.”

The group has been conducting meetings for more than two years and looked at other communities which have formed arts commissions as a guide for their proposal. 

In Duluth, the Duluth Public Arts Commission “advocates for, promotes and participates in the selection and interpretation of public artwork and art events in the city.” The commission also helps with developing and maintaining the city’s ongoing Municipal Arts Plan.

Nearby Thunder Bay’s Public Art Program is to “value public art as a vital component of culture that visually articulates and celebrates our area’s heritage, evolving community identity, and hopes for the future; and beautifies the city.”

In its quest to improve the quality of life in Thunder Bay, the corporation lays out five parameters: Making the places where we live, work and play more welcoming; connecting community environment; adding dimensions to civic spaces; allowing the community to express its identity and values; and enhancing roadsides, pedestrian corridors, gateways an transportation systems.”

In its proposal to the council, CEC asks that its role include advising the city council on encouragement, acceptance, and placement of public art; research and advise the council on Highway 61 amenities; work with the planning commission on building code changes and future property development; respond to requests from city councilors and staff and EDA; encourage collaborations with Cook County, Grand Portage and townships; and adapting these roles as needs evolve.”

Through a wide range of media, including the Internet, CEC hopes to “Develop and market the identity and brand of Cook County as a regional, national and global arts and cultural destination.”

Art, as defined by CEC, encompasses a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing works that express the author’s imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.

The group has been working with Chamber of Commerce director Jim Boyd and Visit Cook County director Linda Jurek to develop ideas on how to create an authentic and unified brand that invites community ownership.

It is against this backdrop of information that the council approved (on a trial basis) CEC to work as an advisory with the city on art related projects. 

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