The Palm Coast City Council is moving toward establishing an arts district in Town Center, bringing together key arts and culture organizations through an arts council and dedicating revenue from the Town Center redevelopment zone to match private grants, spur artistic and cultural activity in the district and further encourage economic development.
The arts district has been a council priority for the last two years. But it was only today that City Parks Director Lauren Johnston presented the plan in its most concrete form yet, what was the first of a three-pronged plan that the council will consider and likely approve over the next few weeks. The first prong focused on the district’s broadest outlines–literally (that is, geographically) and philosophically.
The district would take its place alongside the already-established Innovation District and the coming MedNex initiative–the University of North Florida’s local expansion, also in Town Center.
“The Palm Coast Arts District is a place for social gathering and artistic expression,” the project’s vision statement reads. “It will provide va destination for locals and tourists alike and will continue to revitalize the Innovation District in Town Center. The vibrant and humming culture will be fueled by the collaboration of artists with a global outlook, while integrating artistic, residential, cultural and commercial life. Our Arts District will be a hub of activity that attracts a plethora of businesses. It will offer space for the local community to display beauty and artistry of all kinds, whether it be through a perfectly crafted microbrew, a thought-provoking sculpture, or the clean lines of a 1957 Jaguar.”
“We hope that this vision embraces all generations and encompasses that culture” the city is hoping to that we’re hoping to seed, with art galleries, sculpture gardens, the visual arts, live music and the performance arts the driving forces behind the district.
The first legal step for such a district is to draw actual, legal boundaries. That was today’s aim. The boundaries are to be approved by the council at next week’s meeting. Next the council will hear about the council that would operate much like the Tourist Development Council, or the Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs Advisory Council, on which it is partly modeled.
“United We Arts is this council that will be put together in an effort to identify a strategic approach both on a capital level as well as an event level,” Mayor Milissa Holland said, “and see how we cross-promote and cross-market other community arts and organizations in the community, and how we support each other.”
The council’s budgetary authority has yet to be worked through, though that will be discussed at an upcoming council meeting. Holland said that up to 10 percent of the Community Redevelopment Agency’s revenue could be dedicated to the arts district.
Town Center is a so-called CRA, a sort of economic opportunity or redevelopment zone where most tax revenue generated within the zone stays in it. The CRA generated just over $2 million in tax revenue last year. If it weren’t a CRA, $1.3 million of it would have gone to the county. (School tax revenue is not held within the CRA. See a primer on the Town Center CRA here). If 10 percent were drawn from total revenue, the arts district could be looking at an annual $200,000 infusion. If the revenue was drawn only from Palm Coast’s portion of revenue, it would still be close to $80,000–almost quadruple the money the council is set to approve for its annual cultural arts grants. Those grants, ranging between $2,000 and $3,000, are awarded to a dozen local arts and cultural organizations.
The CRA budget is run separately from that of the city, with the city council sitting as a CRA board when dealing with the CRA budget. Next year’s CRA budget calls for spending $20,000 to $60,000 on the arts district.
“What’s exciting is to hear the conversation with the different arts groups about how they’re excited to participate and how they’ve all come together in this moment,” Holland said. Previously, the Auditorium and the Palm Coast Arts Foundation, both with performing arts venues, had kept each other at arms’ length, but no longer. Amelia Fulmer, the relatively new auditorium director, and Nancy Crouch, the executive director of the arts foundation, meet regularly, Holland said. One of the long-term goals of the arts district is an arts facility that various arts groups could use jointly.
The district boundaries are within the existing innovation district, and include the Flagler Auditorium, the Palm Coast Arts Foundation and the city’s Central Park, which has been a hub of cultural activities and festivals.
“This was an initiative that began with thought of how do we bring together and collaborate all the different arts groups in the community,” Holland said, “meaning [City] Repertory Theatre, the Art League, the Auditorium, the Arts Foundation. We’ve had interest [from] the Flagler Playhouse to join in the art district as well.” The Playhouse was born in Palm Coast but migrated to Bunnell over a decade ago. “We have some outliers that want to participate as well, to be collaborative, to not only host different cultural art opportunities in our arts district, like we do Food Truck Tuesday, but have art festivals, those sorts of things.” With the cooprration between arts groups, “for the first time we’re seeing a lot more of that,” Holland continued. “Due to limited funding sources, everyone’s come together, but this will be the first step of many for engaging and offering cultural art opportunities right in our downtown, what Town Center was always meant to be, a gathering sport for our community.”
Keep Flagler Beautiful says
An arts district is a fantastic idea. Palm Coast has the room for large-scale murals, a sculpture garden, and a venue for art, antiques and collectibles shows and auctions. It would be wonderful to say goodbye to COVID and launch this initiative. It could be such a boom to the future of Flagler County in the form of increased tourism. There’s no reason why Palm Coast/Flagler Beach shouldn’t be a destination spot in Florida.
Jim O says
This statue looks to MOCK animals. I find it horrible and very offensive to me. Someone should take it down.
I agree, It’s offensive being the animal is standing on it’s hind legs exposing it’s underside where the animals privates are. Kids walk through that area when there is a festival. Get some covering on the animals.
John the Baptist says
This is nice in concept but lacks in bringing in the jobs that our city so badly needs. Instead of wasting money on this project, the focus should be on changing the image of Palm Coast as a community that is unfriendly to business. The fact is that the City of Palm Coast lost or fired Wynn Newingham the last responsible adult that was handling economic development for our city along with former councilman and Marine Corps Colonel Jack Howell. Howell was left, without any staff support, to pick up the ball and run with it after Newingham’s departure from the city. Just before he resigned from the city council I heard he was working on a project with his friend and fellow Marine Corps Colonel Robert Cabana to see about attracting some of Elon Musk’s or Jeff Beto’s interest in our city. By the way, Colonel Cabana is the Director of the Kennedy Space Center and a former NASA Astronaut. Personally, I think Howell and Cabana could have made something positive happen had it not been for Holland’s misstep with that moratorium crap. It is blatantly obvious that Ms. Holland knowns nothing about business!
Weldon B. Ryan says
Culture brings people thus create jobs and commerce! What’s so hard to understand???
If they want to make an arts district in town center then they might as well build another skatepark, bigger and better than Wadsworth. we won’t even talk about Rymfire, 8 ramps doesn’t count. If they do build this skatepark, to stick with the arts district theme, then they should give people permits to paint murals on the ramps of the skatepark. if they build a nice skatepark I promise it will bring even more people to the area, something that should put Palm Coast on the map.
Pretty offensive displaying animals in that manner. Maybe ar this time statues aren’t such a wise move, may offend others………
Big Neighbor says
Cultures are about people, but also about how they interact in their environment. Do they include or exclude? Pitching art and culture as an economic engine can resemble a detached leadership from the realities of the disenfranchised unless there is a deliberate effort to address those matters that persistently escape our grasp. ..for instance, teen suicide and addiction.
Currently marketing media campaigns spend billions…trillion (??) in data analytics to predict and channel consumer behaviors, which can, and often time does, lead to addiction. How many children would rather find comfort in a gaming console than being forced to hang out with their peers? Since we’re heavy on bootstrapping this to the Nexus enterprise, maybe we should talk more about concentrating some of that “data driven” magic we hear so much about on making our students successful. Let’s use the same deep learning and 360 marketing techniques to channel each student’s interests into personalized learning plans so they’ll want to be a part of the landscape, culture and people. Let’s bring data ethics and digital cultures as an extension of the ARTificial environment (technology) into the equation for innovation and human capital.