ArtsinStark Chair Wants to Connect All Downtowns to Village

Click here to listen to the WKSU interview http://wksu.org/post/arts-stark-picks-new-chairman

At its annual meeting, the ArtsinStark board elected Emil Alecusan, CFO of Brewster Cheese, as the chair of its 45-member board. It also brought on these new board members: Barry Adelman, Adrian Allison, Marty Chapman, Duncan Darby, Ron Ponder, Alan Rodriguez, and Kay Sanders. “Our downtowns are using the arts to reinvent themselves and to connect to the exciting dreams of the Hall of Fame Village,” says Alecusan. “Making our downtowns super creative places filled with live music and the arts is key to getting young professionals to live there, and visitors to the Village want to come experience them.” For the past 10 years downtown revitalization has been one of the County Arts Council’s primary strategies, not only in Canton but all across the county. Alecusan also noted that research shows that stronger downtowns contribute to stronger surrounding communities economically.

ArtsinStark has worked with the Special Improvement District to build the Arts District in downtown Canton, to install public art everywhere, and to host more than 100 First Fridays. In downtown Minerva, ArtsinStark and the Village of Minerva have spent the past five years creating “Market Street,” with the Art Spot Gallery, Roxy Theatre, and Hart Mansion. In Louisville, the City and ArtsinStark have been creating “Constitution Place” which includes the Ahh Gallery and Uptown Joes. In Alliance, the University of Mount Union and ArtsinStark are partnering to transform the old downtown into “The Crossing” with The Troll Hole, Jupiter Studios, and the Cat Museum. “Our support for the Massillon Museum and the Lion’s Lincoln Theatre is helping that downtown prepare for more tourists,” says ArtsinStark CEO Robb Hankins, “and we’ve provided grants to North Canton, Hartville and Canal Fulton, among others, to start filling their downtowns with public art, special events, and festivals.”

The County Arts Council has also been working with Visit Canton to develop more cultural tourism experiences. They’ve hosted together “Live Music Downtown” grants to support more musical series downtown. They’ve partnered on a plan to develop and rebrand the 100 acres around the Cultural Center as “North Market” and seamlessly connect it to the Arts District to the south. “This is different from regular tourism,” says Alecusan, “because cultural tourists are so passionate about arts and history — that they stay longer and spend more money — which is exactly what we all want.”