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Youngstown State University and Valley cultural group Power of the Arts have teamed up to host several events aimed at connecting local artists and businesses in Youngstown and Warren.
One of those events drew a full house on Thursday at the Raymond John Wean Foundation in Warren as community activists, artists and residents interested in learning how the arts can revitalize cities attended the second of a four-part series. Guest speaker Robb Hankins, president of ArtsinStark, an arts council in Canton, shared how they found success using the arts to generate tourism and revenue in Stark County.
An arts and entertainment district is helping downtown Canton, and Hankins said he hopes those same strategies can work in the Valley.
“What we found in Canton and Stark County was that there were a lot of artists there, but they weren’t connected to the Chamber of Commerce. They weren’t connected to the business community. And people have interesting impressions of artists and business people and politicians. A good arts council becomes the bridge that connects the artists to the greater community,” Hankins said.
Another event in this series will be held this fall focusing on how artists can connect with agents and galleries.
“If you don’t have a lot of money and you want to create miracles, creating miracles through the arts is sort of the theme of my speech and you’ve got to get the most creative people to the table and you’ve got to make them feel welcome and you won’t believe what will happen,” Hankins said.
Renting commercial space for galleries, using art to increase tourism, and creating an arts and entertainment district are some strategies that are working in Stark County.
“Maybe you can lift some ideas from that, re-adapt them, so that’s really all it is, a sharing of ideas,” Hankins said.
Matt Martin, program director at Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, said seeing this framework is helpful.
“There’s a lot of very artistic people here, there’s a lot of exciting things happening around the arts here. We just need to expand the dialogue, get people on the same page that’s all,” Martin said.