As I posted last night, I attended the most recent Vulcan Talks! lecture focused on the future of our cultural scene. There is no better place to hear about the future of our city’s arts and culture than from the home of it’s most beautiful views. While the Ramblings camera just couldn’t pull off a night shot of the city, we did get a pretty impressive shot of the man himself as he looked over the Magic City at night. If you’d like to see some notes about what happened, please click here to see the posting on the Catalyst website. That post provides some of the highlights of the presentation.
The following institutions provided their plans for the future:
There was a great deal of information about these institutions that would be great to get out to the region’s residents. What impressed the 40+ in attendance the most was the national recognition these facilities have garnered.The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute serves as one of only two African American themed museums accredited in the country. The Zoo serving as one of 210 accredited institutions of its type in the country (there are approximately 2,800 facilities in the country). Having an incredible municipal art museum with one of the most impressive 18th century art collections around. One questions I left with is how do you get locals to recognize their assets. This is not just a problem here but in most major cities; most times people do not pay attention to what’s around them until someone visits or just before they move from the city. Efforts range from activeculture.info on the web to events such as Art on the Rocks attracting new visitors to sites.
This is not to say that Birmingham does not recognize their cultural assets. Kathy Yarborough, executive director of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham, cited both the Catalyst survey and City Center Master Plan as identifying arts and culture as the most important issue. Supporters of our local institutions have spoken and provided them with the tools to explore and in some cases, begin planning and implementation of major expansions. Many studies have shown that people feel that they add to the fabric of any community that they are found in. They provide a space for gathering and community, enabling the attendees to grow closer. This event was a great opportunity to provide this information to interested parties.
All in attendance thanked Jefferson County commissioner Gary White for his continued support of the arts and cultural scene. They pointed out the viewing all of the cultural institutions as equals in the funding process, which they all appreciated. Kathy gave attendees something to look forward to when she announced that 2007 will be the Year of Alabama Arts. She spoke of plans for the Art Train to be visiting the Magic City next year.Yarborough ended the event by presenting common themes based on the panel’s comments:
- Changing lives
- Changing communities
- Inner peace
- Gathering space
These comments and others like them sum up the importance of these institutions currently. Their continued place of prominence should prove important not just to the revival of the city center, but to the success and improved quality of life for the entire city.
Something to consider for future events could be the ability to provide podcasting opportunities after the event takes place. There are some that believe that providing such a service would keep people away from the initial event. Gail Treschsel, Director of the BMA, mentioned that one of the drawing cards for these venues is the chance to be around like minded individuals to be in the same space at that same moment. People will always come to an event to say they were there if they want to be. Providing other opportunities to experience the event, whether by blogging, audio or video podcasting, would provide for the conversations that begin at these events to continue and expand in the community.
Let’s get the word out about these and other institutions throughout our region. Based on what they were saying last night, we need to visit before the rest of the world discovers it so we can say we remember when.
Question: Do you think we support our cultural facilities enough and how else can we expand our support in the future?