smART Moves

Story: John Sotomayor

Taking part in the national pARTnership movement, the City of Ocala has paved the way through recent public and private partnerships in our community – from Save the Marion Theatre, the Feel Downtown Campaign, to the Power Plant, to the City Auditorium/Ocala Cultural Center – for local business and art to mutually benefit from each other.

Thank God it’s Friday, right? In this economy, those words could not hold more meaning as we all try to do more with less. But now, Friday nights offer us more relief than ever thanks in part to the Friday Night Art Walk. After a brief summer hiatus, the popular downtown Art Walk returns this Sept. 7th with a few new added features, like extended hours for the after dinner crowd. Since its debut in Feb. 2010, the Art Walk has become an important staple upon the flourishing downtown art scene. Art entertains passersby. More importantly, it draws them in to the business establishments, retail stores and eateries. It turns out art is good for business.

Business leaders like those who comprise the Downtown Business Alliance (DBA) have discovered that partnering with local art groups, such as the Marion Cultural Alliance (MCA) housed in the Brick City Center for the Arts and the Fine Arts for Ocala (FAFO), both of which are members of the First Friday Art Walk Steering Committee, has created a cultural draw to the downtown area, bringing with it much needed foot traffic to attract potential customers into their stores and restaurants. In essence, art moves merchandise. So why not band together? Now that is smart thinking.

We ART not alone

All across the country, a campaign known as the pARTnership movement is sweeping the nation. Locally, we participated in grassroots forms of the movement through the Save The Marion and, more recently, the Feel Downtown campaigns. The partnership movement is the most successful campaign of the Americans for the Arts, a non-profit organization started in 1960 for advancing the arts and arts education. With offices in both Washington, DC and New York City, the Americans for the Arts mission is to “serve, advance, and lead the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America.” As Robert Lynch, author of The Partnership Movement and president and CEO of Americans for the Arts said, “the arts are America’s secret weapon in developing our communities and our cities.”

Read more about the arts in Ocala in our Sept. 2012 issue.

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