Arts and cultural offerings are a big draw for bringing people into the downtowns of their communities. So it’s natural that the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council is focusing its annual conference on “The Art of Downtown Development.”
“Culture is absolutely vital to our success,” says Jennifer Stephany, executive director of Appleton Downtown Inc., a board member of the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council and member of the conference planning committee. “In Appleton we do this really well, with the Performing Arts Center as the centerpiece of our entertainment district, and we have a wide variety of arts and culture. We’re proud to showcase that” when the city hosts the conference.
The statewide advocacy and service organization for downtown development and revitalization will host its 2012 Wisconsin Conference on Downtown Revitalization Oct. 8-9 at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton. Economic development professionals, local and state elected officials, arts, business and civic leaders and anyone interested in the health and well-being of Wisconsin’s communities are encouraged to attend.
Downtown areas face unique challenges in economic development, says Amy Hansen, executive director of Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership, vice president of the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council and also a member of the conference planning committee.
“Specifically, you’re landlocked,” Hansen says. “You have to do revitalization projects, infill projects – things that don’t always ‘make sense’ financially. But we need to protect the histories of our communities and make sure they are livable communities that people want to relocate into.”
The day-long conference will feature established methods of strengthening and growing downtowns of all sizes through the arts and creativity. Speakers include:
» Robb Hankins, president and CEO of Arts in Stark, a Canton, Ohio-based organization that works to create new jobs and healthier communities. Hankins is a Wisconsin native and leader in the arts, arts education, creative economy and downtown revitalization.
» Tom Borrup, author of The Creative Community Builder’s Handbook. Borrup has been a leader in community cultural development for more than 30 years.
The conference also features panels and discussions on public art, creative economy development, market expansion and evaluation, business improvement districts and other topics of interest to Wisconsin’s community leaders.
Conference sponsors include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the City of Appleton, Milwaukee BID #21, Redevelopment Resources, Inc., Vierbicher and Associates, Hitchcock Design Group, Wisconsin Public Service, Appleton Downtown Business Improvement District, Short Elliott Hendrickson and the Platteville Chamber of Commerce.
THURSDAY, OCT. 11
The Paper Hall of Fame’s 18th annual Induction Ceremony will be held at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton. A welcome reception begins at 5:30 p.m. Keynote speaker is Donna Harman of the American Forest & Paper Association. Call (920) 380-7491.
TUESDAY, OCT. 16
The Fab Lab at Fox Valley Technical College will host the second annual Northeast Wisconsin Inventor Night from 4 to 9 p.m. inside entrance 16 at the Appleton campus. The event includes recognition of four local inventors. Visit www.fvtc.edu/newin or call (920) 993-5177.
THURSDAY, NOV. 1
The Power of Positive Leadership – Fall Business Luncheon presented by the Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce in partnership with gold sponsor Menominee Casino Resort will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Menominee Casino Resort Conference Center in Keshena. Reservations are due by Friday, Oct. 26. Call (715) 524-2129 or visit www.shawanocountry.com.
THURSDAY, NOV. 8
The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce’s Event Awards – Celebrating Business Hollywood Nights Style program will be held from 5:30 to 10 p.m. at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. The program recognizes excellent business leaders in the community. Black tie is “admired but not required.” For more information, visit www.foxcitieschamber.com.
A CLOSER LOOK
Wisconsin Conference on Downtown Revitalization
Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, Appleton
Theme: “The Art of Downtown Development”
Registration: $89 for WDAC members; $109 for non-WDAC members.