Friday was the last day for the window art project discussions at the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District offices. The final session was spent constructing an action plan. As with the previous days’ discussions, there was a broad array of topics in the conversation.
The first stage in action planning was to understand the goals of the project. Next, we looked at what actions would need to be undertaken to realize the project. Analyzing this list of actions, we prioritized those actions necessary to start. Finally, there was a discussion of timelines for both creating an event and accomplishing tasks.
The idea the group structured their thoughts on was a gala event at the Momentum space on 11th avenue.
The first step in the action plan was to layout the goals the group wanted to accomplish with a window art project. The group came up with six goals:
1. Increase pedestrian traffic downtown
2. Make Downtown an entertainment destination
3. Develop a greater feeling of safety and a welcoming atmosphere
4. Make downtown more livable
5. Showcase new artists
6. Encourage new businesses to lease empty storefronts
The brain-storming session for actions was quite long. The complexity of re-activating empty downtown spaces lead to all sorts of discussions Friday morning. Eventually,with our list complete, we narrowed down the scope to the primary actions. There were eight primary concerns to resolve before we could begin:
1. Find property owners willing to participate
2. Find artists who want to work on a project
3. Focus on partnerships with non-profits (Regina Food Bank), institutions (University of Regina) and organizations/businesses (Rawlco Radio)
4. Identify the required permits/insurance
5. Know the capacity
6. Decide who to invite
7. Identify a theme for the event/installation/artwork
8. Decide the type of event (formal – come and go)
In some ways the first two were accomplished this week; we spoke to property owners and artists about this concept and received support from both groups. In order to create a window art project, communication with these groups must be continued and sustained.
We discussed, at length, the gala idea, what the theme could be and who was the audience? A point was made that property owners would want to know who was going to be using their space, and assurances about costs, safety and insurance. Likely owner concerns along with the limited size of Momentum meant the group agreed the gala should be invitation only. With a limited audience, decisions on theme, event type and composition of the invitees became more difficult to agree upon.
It seems to me that the crucial question is of leadership. I think there will be creative people who will be able and interested in programing a space. I also believe there would be potential property owners willing, to some degree, have their vacant properties used in some way. The details, unfortunately, without a strong vision to make decisions, are really tough to settle.
The group, for example, wanted to incorporate an anti-poverty theme in the project. This focus, a more somber-political/social issue, seemed to clash with initial desire the group had for a dressy, exclusive art show. Certainly an art show focusing on anti-poverty issues, open to a browsing public would work to raise awareness. But, having an open house may not be accepted by a property owner and thus you’re back to square one. Finding the right blend of programmer, property and audience seems to be a tricky mix.
I hope this week has introduced the concept of window art spaces to artists and property owners, leaving them to imagine potential projects. The greatest asset to creating a window project is the vision and desire to get some idea across or to showcase some amazing space to prospective businesses.
Below are some ideas that the student and/or stakeholders imagined for a window art project on its own or as part of an event:
1. Scarth Street Fashion Show, with a main party/ runway on the mall and other programing in sites nearby.
2. Arts crawl, various venues people move between featuring all kinds of art and spaces.
3. Arts gala opening, using a space for the launch of a project or to introduce an artist.
4. Saskatchewan film feature, screening a film with local ties, while displaying memorabilia from production.
5. Taste of Regina walking tour, using spaces for tastings as people move through the Downtown.
6. Window landscapes, put the image of a landscape onto a window.
7. Athletics, using outdoor spaces (ex,vacant lot) for a skateboarding half-pipe (Summer Invasion promotion) beach Volley Ball and/or winter rink.
8. Cosplay/costume theme, dressing up for a downtown event combining the possibilities above.
Here is a list of inspirations that could shape programing or events that would incorporate window art spaces:
1. Nuit Blanche, Downtown arts festival.
2. Project People, volunteer network helping people with homelessness
4. Creative City Centre, Downtown space for artists
5. Heritage Days, Hudson Bay SK, a popular festival which includes a town dance with start times and music for different age groups.
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