The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Editorials

May 15, 2014

Arts could fuel progress

The Danville area enjoys a wealth of arts organizations in music, visual arts and theater. The variety and depth of local talent provides area residents with a wide scope of productions and presentations to enjoy.

But what if elements of all of those organizations could be brought together in a central place not only for performances and exhibits, but to serve as an attraction for visitors?

Residents in Terre Haute, Ind., plan to discuss such an idea during a community conversation at 5 p.m. EDT May 27 in the Hilton Garden Inn. The city’s Cultural Arts District Community Planning Team recently received a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission to consider developing a downtown cultural district. The meeting will include representatives from downtown business owners, students, community leaders, artists, arts organizations and the public.

Danville already has a wonderful structure — the Fischer Theatre — that could serve as an anchor for an arts district. Imagine the possibilities if a renovated Fischer could be coupled with the Federal Courthouse building — of which local officials are trying to gain ownership — across the street along with the Vermilion County War Museum and the Danville Public Library just to the north.

The corridor would serve as an excellent venue for performances — at the Fischer and the Federal Courthouse where, with a bit of renovation, courtrooms could be turned into small stage areas — exhibits, films, concerts and other arts programs.

Such activity would bring even more vitality to downtown, especially during the evenings, and encourage the development of even more businesses in the area to cater to those attending the arts activities.

Such a project would be a significant undertaking, but one that holds enormous potential for the community. It might be worth paying attention to how Terre Haute’s efforts proceed, with a thought toward using that city’s project as a template for a similar one here.

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