Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dreaming bold the big dream in the "Heart of the City"... meh

Creative Districts Characteristics
• Are unique to the character, community, and resources available locally.
• Have a significant economic impact on cities—attracting businesses, tourists, and local residents to a central part of the city.
• Can help revitalize neighborhoods and increase the quality of life for its residents.
• Act as a vehicle to assist in the support and marketing of local nonprofit cultural organizations.
• Serve as a focal point to brand a city’s unique cultural identity and embrace its historic significance. - Destination Medical Center Arts, Culture, and Humanities Site Visits Overview*

So, imagine - er, do some visioning - if you will about what happens if the Armory becomes a home for local arts and a hub for the many cultural groups that comprise our city (and note what happens if it does not). Let's check out who cares - surprisingly not who you'd think.

The City's CEO, Patron of the Arts, Champion of Inclusivity, DMCC Board member

The mayor will stand at the Armory's front door cutting a ribbon and reminding us of the local arts award that bears his name and call out the city of compassion we are. He may remind us of the task force under his leadership whose very own study recommended that the Armory might best be used for this very thing.

And if there's no Armory, there are plenty of places for the mayor to say the same things and plenty of times he'll say them. Either way, he's got it covered.

DMC - They put the "Heart of the City" on the map. No, literally, they did.

The DMC Economic Development Agency will hold a function on the Armory's third floor weeks before the center opens sharing their excitement for how this new center brings vibrancy to the "Heart of the City" and testifies to the importance of the arts and how vital the center will be in sustaining an inclusive community for the diverse work force upon which our economic future depends. In it's next report before the DMCC Board, the new center will get a PowerPoint slide and that slide will become a common fixture in subsequent EDA presentations - everywhere. 

To be fair, no matter what happens at the Armory site, the EDA will share their excitement for how this new whatever brings vibrancy to the "Heart of the City" and testifies to the importance of whatever it is and then put it on a PowerPoint slide. So, whatever.

A medical business entity employing more than 30,000 employees at the time of the passage of the DMC legislation making it the only such medical business entity in the State of Minnesota for which a "destination medical center" might be created in the city of Rochester.

Mayo Clinic will begin to include the new center in its Mayo Employee Resource Group messaging as further evidence of how "Rochester embraces the multicultural nature of its residents and celebrates its ethnic diversity...[C]reating a welcoming and inclusive environment." 

Either way they're good.

So, who cares?

The mayor currently opposes this re-use of the Armory and didn't bother to share the task force study recommendation supporting it.

The DMC EDA has taken no position on the re-use of the Armory.

Mayo Clinic has taken no position on the re-use of the Armory.

So, you know, meh.

Now who does that leave who does care? If that includes you, then get your body down to the Council Chambers at the Government Center on Wednesday September 7 at 7pm. Or join the council members for their "dinner meeting" beforehand at the new Bleu Duck Kitchen at 14 4th St. SW at 5pm. Or both.

Sometimes, if you care, you just gotta show up.


* DMC trips to Portland, Seattle, Bellevue, Cleveland, and Indianapolis to no apparent effect. Note this recommendation from the Chateau Theatre Re-use Study:
In addition to making it the heart of the ‘Heart of the City’, make the Chateau the anchor facility of an arts and culture district or trail, one that includes the Armory as a home for Rochester’s small arts and cultural groups and independent artists. There is an acute need for small organization support in Rochester. The Chateau will be able to meet the needs of some of the community’s arts groups, but not all of them. We would recommend that the City give RACC’s Armory proposal significant thought, particularly within context of developing an arts and cultural district in downtown Rochester and the DMC. [ page 90 ] 

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