Arts Council News: The Element presents progress report

By Anne E. O’Keefe

Executive Director,

Rockford Area Arts Council

A public meeting was held mid-December to present a progress report on the activities of The Element over the past several months. The mission of The Element is “building a community of the creative spirit in the heart of Rockford for artists, entrepreneurs and professionals to live, work and play.”

The value of the arts for restoring and revitalizing communities was the cornerstone of the presentation. We have a strong base of incredibly-talented artists whom the City of Rockford values and wishes to invest in as part of Rockford’s future.

The Element is composed of working groups that set specific objectives. The Real Estate Working Group is working on product development, which entails developing a plan for physical and organizational structures to make downtown Rockford a destination. Marketing Work group works on promotion and, of course, it is pivotal starting with the successful events and working through the development of housing.

The Great Downtown Open House has had three successful events in May, July and November. Collaborative partners include River District Association, City of Rockford and property owners. The November event was in conjunction with the good work of the Live Big Weekend Committee. There were 14 participating properties.

The Rockford Area Arts Council’s ArtScene events have also been a great avenue for increasing awareness of the importance of local artists to all these endeavors. The Brewhouse building has really drawn large crowds at the last two RAAC ArtScenes.

The Artspace-Rockford project is very exciting for our region. The Artspace mission is to create, foster and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations. How do we get there? It starts with the assessment, which happened in February 2009. Artspace deemed Rockford worthy of a project, so the fund-raising began for the survey. The survey will tell Artspace if we have a large enough draw for such a project, at which point the fund-raising will continue.

Get in on the ground floor of something groundbreaking, learn more at

Anne E. O’Keefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.

From the Jan. 13-19, 2010 issue.

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