Signal to Noise: Amplify Columbia Wants to Create a Cultural Plan for the City. What Does That Mean?

From the Free Times – July 4, 2018

by Patrick Wall, Photos by Thomas Hammond

Back in January, at the public unveiling of Amplify Columbia, the effort to create a unified cultural plan spearheaded by the city and the city-backed arts nonprofit One Columbia for Arts and History, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin opened his address by reading a poem: William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus.” Translated from Latin, invictus means “unconquered,” and its most famous couplet — “I am the master of my fate: / I am the captain of my soul” — is a well-worn mantra for communicating importance and purpose.

“We stand here by choice, not by chance,” the mayor said on the steps of the Township Auditorium, the historic concert hall whose history is uniquely intertwined with the city’s. “[W]e’re going to direct Columbia in being what we believe and know it can be: the most talented, most educated, most entrepreneurial, the strongest cultural asset that America can possibly have. Amplify will make sure that that happens.”

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Announcing Upcoming Town Halls

One Columbia for Arts & History, which advises, amplifies and advocates for the unified arts and history community, announces that it will host more meetings with cultural and community organizations and members of the public this summer. The public is invited to attend the next Town Hall meeting to hear some of the early findings from interviews, online surveys and previous group and Town Hall meetings.

Amplify’s Town Hall meetings offer an opportunity to collect extensive input from the community, so that the steering committee can consider this feedback when reporting on findings and developing recommendations that advance the arts and cultural sector in the region. Town Hall attendees will be provided an update on the process and participate in the substantive discussions that will help increase public participation in the arts.

Amplify has scheduled three more Town Hall meetings open to the public that will focus on arts learning and arts education for members of the public interested in sharing ideas about how the arts impact long term growth and success for our region.

Amplify Town Hall Discussions:

The Town Hall discussions are facilitated and led by members of the Amplify steering committee and Margie Reese, an arts advocate and arts management professional. In earlier Town Hall discussions with the public and targeted groups, Reese and the Amplify committee have identified five emerging themes and needs for arts growth in Columbia:

  • Space for cultural expression, art making
  • Leadership that nurtures diverse ideas, perspectives.
  • Investment that refreshes the arts infrastructure systematically.
  • Increased value for artists.
  • Arts learning, including exposure and mastery, for children and young people.

The Amplify steering committee invites public participation and responses to help in develop a robust cultural plan for Columbia and the region.

The City of Columbia’s office of Planning and Development Services is initiating development of a Comprehensive Plan for all aspects of Columbia’s future. Amplify will serve as the arts and culture piece of the plan. Members of the public can also provide input on arts and cultural planning in Columbia through Amplify’s online survey.

Upcoming Public Town Hall Meetings

Amplify will begin hosting several meetings with cultural and community organizations this spring. Two of the meetings are town-hall discussions and members of the general public are encouraged to attend.

Amplify Town Hall Discussions:

Each town hall discussions will be facilitated and led by Margie Reese and artist facilitators. Attendees will discuss answers to questions like:

  • Do the arts and cultural resources in the Columbia area impact regional growth?
  • Which arts programs are exceptional in our community?
  • When considering the possibility of providing more access to the arts in your neighborhood, which are the three most important factors to be considered?
  • How can the arts help Columbia stand out as a city that values creativity?

With responses from attendees of these discussions and other scheduled discussions with arts, history and philanthropic organizations in the area, the Amplify steering committee will develop recommendations for celebrating and strengthening arts and cultural programs in our area. Having these meetings represents a significant step in creating a cultural plan for our region.

What is Amplify?

You’ve heard the buzz. You’ve seen the news. You’ve completely stumbled into this.

Columbia is an exciting hot spot – the Real Southern Hot Spot, some would say. And, because there is so much happening in Columbia, it’s time we get organized and make a plan.

One Columbia for Arts and History is collaborating with government, non-profit and corporate partners to create a comprehensive cultural plan for Columbia and the surrounding area. The Midlands of South Carolina are experiencing significant growth in population and economic development. The planning process that we’re taking on includes an assessment of the creative landscape and broad community input to develop a focused strategy with long-term vision that enhances livability and drives future cultural tourism.

This 12-18 month effort will result in a plan that takes into consideration current trends in the development of arts and culture at a national level, advances the growth of the local and regional creative community, and considers ways to expand access to the arts for the region’s culturally diverse and growing population and align with city planning efforts. We need your input, ideas and voice.

This site is only the start.