Jefferson City developing master plan for community’s art

Jefferson City is looking to tap into the wealth of artists and opportunities to enhance the area's quality of life, and residents are invited to make their voices heard this week.

The Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department and consultant Keen Independent are working together on a cultural arts master plan meant to tap into artistic and cultural opportunities to make the Capital City more vibrant. The plan will be used to guide Parks as it works to bolster art and its use in the community.

Leann Porrello, cultural arts specialist with JC Parks, said the plan would reflect the community and its tapestry from one end to the other -- and to make that happen, she said, the team will be taking feedback and suggestions from residents.

"Parks and Rec has really taken the initiative to kind of dive into the arts and our community to make it better and to really enhance everyone's quality of life through the arts and culture," she said. "We found that there's really a need in our community, and we want to be intentional with our arts, from funding to businesses and community engagement.

"We want to make sure that the arts and culture of Jefferson City really reflect those people within the community."

A public meeting to discuss the plan and meet with consultants is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at McClung Park's indoor pavilion. The event will also feature food and beverages.

"It's an opportunity for businesses and community members to come and meet the firm and give their opinions," Porrello said. "The more information that independent research can get from our community members, the better they're going to be able to put together an arts master plan for us."

Keen Independent, a national research forum focused on arts and culture, equity and economics, has extensive experience with communities of a similar size to Jefferson City. It was selected by the Parks and Recreation Commission to handle the project after putting in a $49,908 bid late last year. Porrello said the group could use the smaller population compared to other capital cities and encourage new creative amenities to the historic town.

In order to complete the study, the firm will conduct background research, engage with the community, examine similar cities and communities, analyze the potential economic impact and complete an analysis of the area's strengths and challenges.

"This is an exciting time for our city and what's really fun about this is that this not only reflects our present but also the future of the arts in Jefferson City," she said. "We want to express and really make sure people understand that their voice is wanted, because this is for them. So the more they can speak up and let us know what they mean. We want to really stress the community engagement and support to make sure that we're representing everyone accurately."

The study launched in January and is expected to wrap up in August.

Outside of the public meeting, input can be provided by visiting the study's website at keenindependent.com/jcculturalarts, calling the study hotline at (573) 340-3988 or emailing the team at [email protected].

A virtual workshop is also available online at https://qrco.de/bdiisS or by visiting the study website through April 3. The workshop takes around 10 minutes to complete, according to a news release.

Porrello encouraged the community to engage with the study, whether art was an interest of theirs or not, to make their voices heard as the process moves forward.

"This is for everyone," Porrello said. "We want this community engagement; that's the only way we feel we can reflect our specific community's culture, by hearing it straight from their mouths. So that's why we're really encouraging the community to participate with us and help us find the future of arts in our city."